Njelle Hamilton Book Launch

Friday, September 20, 2019 4:30 PM
Minor 110


Phonographic Memories is the first book to perform a sustained analysis of the narrative and thematic influence of Caribbean popular music on the Caribbean novel. Tracing a region-wide attention to the deep connections between music and memory in the work of Lawrence Scott, Oscar Hijuelos, Colin Channer, Daniel Maximin, and Ramabai Espinet, Njelle Hamilton tunes in to each novel's soundtrack while considering the broader listening cultures that sustain collective memory and situate Caribbean subjects in specific localities. These "musical fictions" depict Caribbean people turning to calypso, bolero, reggae, gwoka, and dub to record, retrieve, and replay personal and cultural memories. Offering a fresh perspective on musical nationalism and nostalgic memory in the era of globalization, Phonographic Memories affirms the continued importance of Caribbean music in providing contemporary novelists ethical narrative models for sounding marginalized memories and voices.


Panel includes:

Njelle Hamilton, AAS/English, UVA

Njelle W. Hamilton specializes in 20th and 21st century Caribbean literary and cultural studies, especially the impact of orality, music, and trauma on the Caribbean postcolonial novel. Her first monograph, Phonographic Memories: Popular Music and the Contemporary Caribbean Novel (Rutgers, 2019), investigates how Caribbean subjects turn to nation music when personal and cultural memory have been impacted by time, travel, or trauma. Her current project, tentatively titled Caribbean Chronotropes: The Politics, Physics, and Poetics of Time in Contemporary Fiction, reads recent time-bending novels through the lens of physics, phenomenology, and Caribbean theory. She serves on the editorial board of Caribbean in Transit: An Arts Journal, and her essays on sound studies and trauma theory have appeared in Anthurium, Journal of West Indian Literature, Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women’s Literature, and SX Salon. 


Carolyn Cooper, Professor (Emerita), University of the West Indies Mona

Carolyn Cooper is a recently retired professor of literary and cultural studies who taught at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica for thirty-six years. She is the founder of the University’s embryonic Reggae Studies Unit, and the author ofNoises in the Blood: Orality, Gender and the ‘Vulgar’ Body of Jamaican Popular Culture (Duke University Press, 1993) and Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Professor Cooper frequently contributes to debates on cultural politics in the local and international media. She currently writes a weekly column for the Sunday Gleaner which she irregularly translates into the Jamaican language for her blog, Jamaican Woman Tongue. Professor Cooper is a public intellectual committed to broadening the audience for vital conversations about culture and identity across the Caribbean region and beyond.


Norval (Nadi) Edwards,  Senior Lecturer, UWI Mona (Literatures in English)

Nadi Edwards teaches in the Department of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He is a member of the editorial collective Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, and has published articles on Caribbean literature and criticism, travel writing and Jamaican popular culture.


Carter Mathes, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Rutgers University (English). 

Carter Mathes is a specialist in African American Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, and African Diaspora Studies. His first book, Imagine the Sound: Experimental African American Literature After Civil Rights (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) focuses on the relationship between sound and literary innovation during the 1960s and 1970s.  Currently, he is working on a second book project that examines practices of improvisation and formations of black radical thought in literature and music as they move between Jamaica and the United States during the second half of the twentieth-century. He has published essays in Small Axe, Contemporary Literature, Callaloo, and African American Review.


Jack Hamilton, Media Studies/American Studies, UVA 

Jack Hamilton is a cultural historian who studies sound, media, and popular culture, and his other areas of interest include film, sports, television, and journalism. His first book, Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination (Harvard UP, 2016), received Honorable Mention for the Woody Guthrie Award (Outstanding Book) from the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, won a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Award, and been chosen as one of the three best non-fiction books of 2016 by Splice Magazine. In 2017 PopMatters named Just around Midnight one of the “10 Conversation-Shifting Books about Music” of the past ten years. Prof. Hamilton is currently working on a book about music and technology since the 1960s. Since 2013 he has also been the pop critic for Slate magazine where he writes about music, sports, and other areas of culture, and in 2016 he hosted the Slate podcast series “Pop, Race, and the ‘60s”. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, NPR, ESPN, Transition, L.A. Review of Books, and many other venues.