Associate Professor of English and Chair of Film and Media Studies, Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA
Duration of stay:
May – June 2022
In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Hediger
Pooja Rangan is a documentary scholar based in Amherst College, where she is Associate Professor of English and Chair of Film and Media Studies. Rangan is the author of the award-winning book Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke UP, 2017) and co-editor of Thinking with an Accent: Toward a New Object, Method, and Practice (forthcoming from UC Press, 2023). She is currently completing a book titled On Documentary Listening, and co-authoring a book with Brett Story on abolitionist documentary.
Research project title:
On Documentary Listening
On Documentary Listening argues, contra the popular (and scholarly) refrain that documentary films “give voice” to silenced social perspectives, that documentaries don’t just receive and attend to the world; that the genre’s most common oral and aural conventions model normative listening habits and practices that actively filter, arrange, design, and build reality. The book frames documentary listening as a political act that distributes attentional and material resources, and contours relational and political prospects. The four chapters of the book (“The Documentary Audit”; “Listening with an Accent”; “Listening in Crip Time”; “Listening like an Abolitionist”) each reflect on the implicit values and comportments embedded in common documentary listening habits, in pursuit of unlikely origins, forgotten chapters, and oppositional itineraries. Throughout, I listen otherwise for counterhabits that remain open to what is difficult, different, or radically strange.
“Inaudible Evidence: Counterforensic Listening in Contemporary Documentary Art,” in Deep Mediations, edited by Karen Redrobe and Jeff Scheible (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2021; awarded Best Edited Collection by Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 2022)
“Four Propositions on True Crime and Abolition,” co-authored with Brett Story, World Records (Special Feature, 2021)
“Auditing the Call Center Voice: Accented Speech and Listening in Sonali Gulati’s Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night (2005),” in Vocal Projections: Voices in Documentary, edited by Annabelle Honess Roe and Maria Pramaggiore (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), 29-44.
Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke University Press, 2017) (2019 Harry Levin Prize for Outstanding First Book from ACLA; PDF links to Introduction)
June 7: Lecture – “Listening in Crip Time: Toward New Forms of Documentary Trust”
June 13 & 14: “Contested Forms. A Workshop on Documentary, Trust and Conflict”