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Communities of Song: Performing Sung Poetry in the Modern World

April 2, 2015 - April 3, 2015

The affinity of music and poetry is so intuitive that we often fail to pause and notice the pervasive presence of so-called “sung poetry” as a genre across cultural contexts. In fact, the studies of music and poetry that exist provocatively explore the formal challenges of giving voice to verse. This focus on poetics, while vital to many writers’ and musicians’ own fascination with the project of sung poetry, ignores the centrality of sung poetry in culture—among audiences, in public discourse, and as a means of negotiating collectivities. With “Communities of Song: Performing Sung Poetry in the Modern World” we convene a conversation about sung poetry not only for its poetics but for its association with social memory. By singing poems, musicians and other social agents transform poetry into cultural performances. Repertories of sung poetry frequently play a critical role at moments of community formation, be these collective national, ethnic, postcolonial, or otherwise. In practice, sung poetry is instrumental for social action as well as for marking and sculpting geography.

Thursday, April 2 — Person Recital Hall

Panel 1, 2:00–3:40 pm

Chair: GerShun Avilez (UNC)
Meredith Schweig (MIT), — “Bringing the Old-School ‘Song of Everlasting Regret’: The Poetic Politics of Taiwan Rap”
Joshua Tucker (Brown), — “‘I’ll Break your Neck, I’ll Wring Your Neck’: Courtship, Competition, and Indigenous Memory in Andean Peru”

Keynote Address 3:45 pm

Glenn Hinson (UNC), “Signifying Style: Ecologies of Social Critique in African American Poetics

Opening Reception @ Tru (114 Henderson Street), 5:00–6:30 pm

Friday, April 3 — Hyde Hall, University Room

Panel 2, 10:00–12:30 pm

Chair: Tim Carter (UNC, Music)
Afroz Taj and John Caldwell (UNC), “‘Baat Niklegi’: How Jagjit Singh Cornered the World Ghazal Market”
Andrea F. Bohlman (UNC, Music), “Inspiration, Nostalgia, and the Avoidance of Dissent in Sung Poetry from Poland”
Farzaneh Hemmasi (UToronto), “Poetry Above All?: Politics, National Identification, and the Contemporary Mediation of Iranian Sung Poetry”

Panel 3, 2:00–3:40 pm

Chair: Lauren Jennings (UNC, Music)
Michael A. Figueroa (UNC), “Oral Performance and Literate Media: The Meanings of Sung Poetry in Israel”
Kaley Mason (UChicago), “South Indian Rock: Vernacular Vitality and the Poetics of Song”


Keynote Address, 4:15 pm

J. Martin Daughtry (NYU), “Posthuman Bards, or Vocal Scenes from the Anthropocene”


April 2, 2015
April 3, 2015
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James and Susan Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall
135 E. Cameron Ave
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 United States
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