November 17, 2019

Phonographic Memories by Njelle W. Hamilton

Phonographic Memories: Popular Music and the Contemporary Caribbean Novel
by Njelle W. Hamilton

About This Book

Phonographic Memories is the first book to perform a sustained analysis of the narrative and thematic influence of Caribbean popular music on the Caribbean novel. Tracing a region-wide attention to the deep connections between music and memory in the work of Lawrence Scott, Oscar Hijuelos, Colin Channer, Daniel Maximin, and Ramabai Espinet, Njelle Hamilton tunes in to each novel’s soundtrack while considering the broader listening cultures that sustain collective memory and situate Caribbean subjects in specific localities. These “musical fictions” depict Caribbean people turning to calypso, bolero, reggae, gwoka, and dub to record, retrieve, and replay personal and cultural memories. Offering a fresh perspective on musical nationalism and nostalgic memory in the era of globalization, Phonographic Memories affirms the continued importance of Caribbean music in providing contemporary novelists ethical narrative models for sounding marginalized memories and voices.

Njelle W. Hamilton's Spotify playlist to accompany Phonographic Memories:


“Njelle Hamilton’s Phonographic Memories explores how a set of Caribbean novelists has foregrounded music as a locus for memory, nostalgia, and selfhood. Her study attests to the importance of music in the region in both personal and national senses of identity and suggests original ways of interpreting its representation in fiction.”

 ~Peter Manuel, author of Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae.

“Njelle W. Hamilton’s Phonographic Memories is a resonant and remarkable contribution to the fields of Caribbean studies and literary sound studies. Her substantive interdisciplinary work interweaves critical insights from neuropsychology, ethnomusicology, and literary studies with meticulous close-reading and close-listening analyses of musical styles, performance genres, and recording technologies in a multiplicity of Caribbean contexts. In harmony with the practice of liyannaj that Hamilton relates in her analysis, this important and impactful work will appeal to audiophiles and bibliophiles alike."

~Julie Huntington, author of Sounding Off: Rhythm, Music, and Identity in West African and Caribbean Francophone Novels.

Here's the link for Phonographic Memories @ Rutgers University Press:


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