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avatar for Karen Tongson

Karen Tongson

Karen Tongson is Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, and the author of Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (NYU Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in Public Culture, Social Text, American Quarterly, GLQ, and Novel: A Forum on Fiction, as well as in The Believer, Public Books, Sounding Out!, You Offend Me You Offend My Family, Bully Bloggers, and Velvet Park, among various other venues. She is currently the series editor for Postmillennial Pop at NYU Press, and an associate editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies. She has two books in progress: Normal Television: Critical Essays on Queer Spectatorship After the "New Normalcy," and Empty Orchestra: Karaoke in Our Time. As her Instagram attests, she likes food, cats, bourbon, and karaoke (though not necessarily in that order). Twitter: @inlandemperor

“Roundtable: Queer DisEmbodiments: Voice, Sexuality, Synchronization”
Though most of us can readily admit to hearing “sexy” voices, fewer of us go out on a limb to divine the sexuality behind that voice, to vocally recognize—and in effect synchronize—the sound of someone’s voice with our expectations about the bodies who are its sources. This roundtable discussion considers the many ways in which bodies resound queerly, as well as how queer voices leave bodies behind altogether by inhabiting other bodies, and creating dazzling asymmetries between source, sound and sex(uality). From the ethereal as well as irritating murmurs of Kate Bush’s The Ninth Wave (Halberstam), to Sia’s ventriloquial automatons, including her dancing child avatar, Maggie Ziegler (Kessler); to the dispassionate, polyamorous disco rapture of Grace Jones’ voice (McMillan); to the breathy, helium seductions of nerdy, androgynous crooners like Green Gartside of Scritti Politti and Michelle Chamuel from NBC’s The Voice (Tongson); to the British dance band Years and Years’ uncanny channeling of black women’s voices (Nyong’o), this roundtable moves in and out of bodies in an effort to understand the technologies of queer vocalization. We invite everyone to hear queerly with us and, in the words of a recent exhibit curated by Jeanne Vaccaro at Cooper Union, to “Bring Your Own Body”—even if it isn’t yours.


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