Listening in the Caribbean

Thu, Oct 26, 2023
3:00 pm EDT - 4:30 pm EDT

This panel will explore cases of music-making and listening in the eighteenth-century Caribbean. Callum Blackmore will discuss the growth of the theater industry in Saint-Domingue against the backdrop of a number of cataclysmic events in the colony (pestilence, drought, fire, tectonic activity, and global warfare), and the boom-and-bust economics associated with running a commercial enterprise amid such catastrophic events. Devon Borowski will discuss descriptions of Black and enslaved music-making in histories of Jamaica and the attempts of historians to universalize and naturalize the elite musical traditions of Europe. Henry Stoll will discuss how Afro-diasporic communities used music, specifically song, to communicate the news of the Haitian Revolution, ultimately fostering a space for public memory and traditions of radical political activity throughout the region. Maria Ryan will serve as moderator and respondent.

Presenter bios

Callum Blackmore is a graduate student in historical musicology at Columbia University studying French opera in the long eighteenth century. His dissertation, “Opera at the Dawn of Capitalism: Staging Economic Change in France and Its Colonies from Rameau to Cherubini,” explores representations of economic life on the operatic stage in the lead-up to the French and Haitian Revolutions.

Devon J. Borowski recently received his PhD in music history and theory from the University of Chicago, where he was supported by a Predoctoral Fellowship for Excellence through Diversity at the University of Pennsylvania and an Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship through the American Musicological Society. His dissertation explored eighteenth-century singing cultures and colonial discourses of voice, humanity, and history in late Georgian Britain and considers how marginal actors engaged with the musical voice (through singing, listening, teaching, and documenting) and defined their relationship with empire and nascent constructions of whiteness. He is currently serving as a Teaching Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

Henry Stoll is Assistant Professor in the Department of Musicology and postdoctoral fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. His book manuscript, The Unsung Revolution, explores how the people of Haiti, having fundamentally altered their Atlantic world, used music to express the joys, concerns, desires, and ambitions of their nation. He has received grants and fellowships from the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the John Carter Brown Library, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the Camargo Foundation. His most recent publication, “‘So All the World May Know It’: The Literary Value of Nineteenth-Century Haitian Song and Opera,” will appear in the forthcoming collection, The Cambridge History of Haitian Literature.

Maria Ryan is an assistant professor of musicology at Florida State University where she teaches courses on Black feminism, music and colonialism, and music and slavery. Maria is currently working on a book provisionally titled Ambivalent Listening: Race, Music, and Slavery in the British Colonial Caribbean. In addition to her work on music in the colonial Caribbean, she is interested in Black feminist theory, the intellectual history of Black music, and book history and archive studies. She is a senior fellow in the Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography.


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