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‘Ringing out on a dark night’: The Voice of the People as the Voice of God in Mid-Nineteenth- Century Russia

Gabriella Safran
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 17:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)

Russian right- and left-wing populisms arose in the 1840s, among thinkers who drew attention to the voice of “the people” and to their own remarkable ability to hear, record, and amplify it. This paper considers Russia’s internationally influential populist discourse from a sound studies perspective, reflecting on the ways that the voices of lower-class people were situated in a soundscape containing bells, shots, silence, storms, and other aural phenomena that conveyed both secular and transcendent messages.
Gabriella Safran, a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Stanford, is also the Eva Chernov Lokey Professor in Jewish Studies. An expert on Russian and Yiddish literatures, she is working on two book projects: a sound studies analysis of mid-nineteenth-century Russian Populist discourse, focusing on scenes of interclass listening, and a transnational prehistory of the Jewish joke.