• Julie Napolin

    Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities


    My work participates in the emerging field of sound studies, focusing on discourses of listening in 20th and 21st-century literature, philosophy, media, and music.  I am interested in American and British modernism, the work of Faulkner and Conrad in particular, and what practices and philosophies of listening in the 20th century and beyond can tell us about the modernist novel as form.  I am also interested in the intersections of narrative theory and the digital humanities as an emerging field, asking how new media practices can represent the movements of sounds and voices in text. I am a radio producer, practicing musician, and core-collaborator of “Digital Yoknapatawpha,” an online mapping of the works of Faulkner. 

    My book-in-progress, The Fact of Resonance, theorizes "narrative acoustics" in the modernist novel, studying the ways that voices and sounds move in fictional spaces. The book argues that “sounding” is an activity by which a text’s social, ethical and aesthetic positioning is conveyed to a reader. It considers how words on a page become imaginary voices and sounds, how textual images relate to textual sounds in reader response. Bringing aural phenomenology to bear upon narratology and psychoanalysis, the book captures and enhances ambient sounds in works of modernist literature, sounds that are clues to heterogeneous experiences hidden in the acoustic unconscious of texts. I call this fact “resonance” and work toward a prose and method of critical reading that might attune itself to such sounds. Working with aural phenomenology as both theme and method, the book theorizes sounds in the work of Conrad, Faulkner, Freud, Benjamin, Fanon, Du Bois, Hemingway, Woolf, Toomer, Ellison, and Glissant. The major thrust of the book is to work with those texts that strive for a kind of audibility, whose techniques bend the silent experience of reading towards an auditory imaginary, one that is, nonetheless, physical and vibratory in its effects. 

    Research fields

    • Sound studies
    • 20th-century American literature and culture
    • Transatlantic modernism
    • Narrative theory and the novel
    • Psychoanalysis and theories of the subject
    • Critical race theory
    • Film theory

    Office Hours:

    Thursdays, 4-5

    Degrees Held:

    B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, Hampshire College
    M.A., Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
    Ph.D., Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

    Professional Affiliations:

    • Joseph Conrad Society of America (Trustee)
    • William Faulkner Society
    • Modern Language Association
    • Society for the Study of Narrative
    • American Comparative Literature Association
    • Black Sound and the Archive Working Group, Yale University 


    Recent Publications:

    Blues Speaker [for James Baldwin]: A Dialogue with Mendi + Keith Obadike, Current Musicology (special issue in race, sound, and technology), forthcoming.

    “On Banishing Socrates’ Wife: The Interiority of the Ear in Phaedo,” Poesies, eds. Nathan Brown and Petar Milat, Centre for Expanded Poetics, 2017.

    “Elliptical Sound: Audibility and the Space of Reading,” Sounding Modernism, eds. Julian Murphet, Penelope Hone, and Helen Groth, Edinburgh UP, 2017.

    “The Fact of Resonance: An Acoustics of Determination in Faulkner and Benjamin.” Symploke, vol. 24, no. 1-2, 2016, pp. 171-186.

    “Scenes of Subjection: Women’s Voices Narrating Black Death." Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog, 19 December, 2016. Web. 

    “‘A Sinister Resonance’: Vibration, Sound, and the Birth of Conrad’s Marlow,” qui parle, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 53-79. Awarded the Bruce Harkness Young Scholar Prize by the Joseph Conrad Society of America.

    Awards And Honors:

    Mellon Fellow in the Graduate Institute of Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought, 2014-2015

    The Joseph Conrad Society of America Bruce Harkness Young Scholar Prize, 2013

    Jacob K. Javits Fellow, 2001-2005

    Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in the Humanities, 2000-2001

    Current Courses:

    Independent Study

    Ind Senior Project