The Mediated Voice: Yours in Sisterhood (EVENT)

The Mediated Voice, 2020-21 Centre for Screen Cultures, University of St Andrews

From Michel Chion’s The Voice in Cinema to more recent work by scholars such as Rey Chow, Pooja Rangan, and Jennifer O’Meara, film and media studies have been heavily invested in understanding and theorising the voice through their analyses of what Chion terms cinema’s “vococentrism.” In 2020-21, the Centre for Screen Cultures will host two events that are connected by their shared attention to the mediated voice. We invite participants to respond to two recent documentaries: in Semester 1, Yours in Sisterhood (Irene Lusztig, 2018) and in Semester 2, Expedition Content (Ernst Karel and Veronika Kusumaryati, 2020). These works draw on sonic and epistolary archives, and both ask us to consider what’s at stake in the acts of voicing, listening, and silencing that are at times implied, and at other times made explicit, through their processes of (re)mediation.


As So Mayer has described of Yours in Sisterhood, the film “delves into the archive and renews the word, bringing neglected letters into the circulation they sought, and changing their unpublished pasts into public futures where their voices are heard. It uses the letter as a form of time travel, and even teleportation.” In the making of the film, Lusztig searched through about 2,000 letters to Ms. magazine, the first feminist magazine in the United States now housed at the Schlesinger Library. She selected 300 and then filmed people reading out the letters in what has been described as a performative, participatory documentary.


On Wednesday 11 November at 7.30pm (via Teams) we will be joined by the director, Irene Lusztig, co-editors of a recent In Focus dossier entitled “Re-voicing the Screen” published in the Journal of Cinema and Media StudiesJennifer O’Meara, Tessa Dwyer and dossier contributor Jaimie Baron.  Responding to Lusztig’s film, Tessa Dwyer will discuss the documentary’s reversed dubbing dynamics, as related to concepts of acousmatic voice and vocal aura. Jennifer O’Meara and Jaimie Baron will address issues related to gender and “vocal remediation.” Film historian Shruti Narayanswamy will respond to Yours in Sisterhood by discussing her own experiences of archival research into women’s experiences of Bombay cinema in the 1930s and 40s. To attend, please register here.


Yours in Sisterhood will be streamed online in advance of the event and screened at The Byre Theatre, St Andrews on Wednesday 4 November at 7pm [register here].

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