University of Wisconsin–Madison

Course Spotlight: Sound & African Modernity

Course Description

This course examines sound and technology as tools of cultural invention and identity in contemporary African life. How do music and its mediums construct national belonging in Africa and the diaspora? What are the embodied senses of these? Posthumanism, new media and globalization are examined against competing theories of modernity through the writings of Achille Mbembe, Yvonne Daniels, Alexander Weheliye and others. Music subcultures in which dance elements are essential are theorized as mediums for Black social and technological modernity. We also examine digital production and media distribution techniques for sound cultures including, pop music, podcasts, radio, and online mediums such as Spotify and YouTube. Literature primarily comes from African Studies, New Media Studies, technology and sound studies, with special attention to street dance cultures and ‘neotraditional’ dance practices in Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and USA (Chicago/NY/Atlanta/Bay Area).

Course Details

African Languages and Literature 605: Sound & African Modernity: Digitizing the Body & Soul of the Nation
3 credits
Tues./Thurs., 2:30-3:45PM
375 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2018

Sample Texts

Africa in Stereo by Tsitsi Jaji
Sounding New Media by Frances Dyson
Living the Hiplife by Jesse Weaver Shipley
Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music by Jacye Clayton

About the Instructor

Reginold Royston is jointly-appointed in the School of Information (formerly SLIS) and the Department of African Cultural Studies. His research interests include New Media and innovation in the African Diaspora. He does ethnographic research in Ghana, the U.S., and the Netherlands, examining Ghana’s digital diaspora. As a researcher, developer and professor of information and technology studies, I have produced and designed dozens of new media apps and campaigns with my students and collaborators. He’s worked for 15 years as a reporter, graphics designer, and cultural critic for Knight Ridder, Village Voice Media, and National Geographic.com. He has been active in community organizations in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Oakland, CA. His teaching and research interests include: Africana Cultural Studies; New Media and Sound Studies; Philosophy and History of Information and Communications Technology; Diaspora and Transnationalism; Black Studies; Anthropology; Online Education; Civic Technology for the Public Good.

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