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Vortrag im Oberseminar

Am Montag, den 1. Juni 2015 hält Prof. Dr. Richard Wolf (Harvard University) einen Vortrag über: The problem of agency in creative non-fiction: Writing The Voice in the Drum in South Asia

01.06.2015 um 18:00 Uhr

Referent: Prof. Richard K. Wolf, Ph.D (Harvard University)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Frank Heidemann (LMU)

The problem of agency in creative non-fiction: Writing The Voice in the Drum in South Asia

This presentation is concerned with the question of whether and how one, as a writer, can both create and channel forms of agency for others, even if those others are virtual, fictional, or quasi-fictional. The work in question is my recently published book, The Voice in the Drum, an ethnomusicological study of South Asian drumming couched delicately in the form of a novel. The plot unfolds with sensory detail, following the life of the Indian journalist Muharram Ali as he pursues a musical fascination that grew from events in his own biography. It presents actors whose lives trace some of the religious and cultural tensions that have persisted in the wake of the partition of India and Pakistan. Analytically, the work suggests new ways of framing the relationship among rhythm, melody and the voice.


What does it mean to be an agent in a work that straddles “scientific” ethnography and creative writing? What can a fictional character accomplish, both literarily and ethnographically that the original researcher cannot? What are the limits of a piece meant both to make a direct academic argument and convey indirect messages through the nuance of character dialog and plot? Specific attention will be devoted to one of the ethnographic subjects of the book, the (real) drummer Pappu Sain. Pappu Sain’s subjectivity is particularly complex: he is a Sufi drummer in service to faqir-dancers and an ecstatic follower of the Sufi path himself. Though he is a classically informed drummer, he views his performances at shrines as generated by the saint’s agency and not his own. His original words, in discussions with the author, are reframed as interactions with the protagonist of the novel. The presentation will consist of reflections on and readings from the book.

Für die Teilnahme ist eine Anmeldung per Email erforderlich.

Wann?     Montag, 1. Juni 2015 , 18 Uhr
Wo?         Center for Advanced Studies, Seestr. 13, 80802 München


Für die Veranstaltungsreihe hat Herr Prof. Dr. Frank Heidemann in diesem Semester ein vielseitiges Programm mit interessanten Themen und ReferentInnen zusammengestellt.

Mehr Informationen über Vorträge und Tagungen am Institut für Ethnologie für das Sommersemester 2015 finden Sie unter  „Veranstaltungen".