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Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler is a PhD candidate in comparative literature at the UC Irvine, where she is completing a dissertation on ventriloquism in contemporary popular culture. Her writing on art, film, and media has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, In These Times, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Public Books, and Sounding Out!, among other publications. Her article “Puppet Love,” on the documentary film work of the English ventriloquist Nina Conti, is forthcoming in Camera Obscura (Duke). Twitter: @moveablejaw

“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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