Harpur Edge Book Club

Harpur Edge Book Club

Each year a text written by a Harpur College alumna/us or faculty member is selected and read and discussed by a group of students.

We are excited to announce the Harpur Edge Book Club selection for spring 2022 is:

The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Culutral Politics of Listening

by Associate Professor Jennifer Lynn Stoever

Sonic Color Line


Race is a visual phenomenon, the ability to see “difference.” At least that is what conventional wisdom has lead us to believe. Yet, The Sonic Color Line argues that American ideologies of white supremacy are just as dependent on what we hear—voices, musical taste, volume—as they are on skin color or hair texture. Reinforcing compelling new ideas about the relationship between race and sound with meticulous historical research, Jennifer Lynn Stoever helps us to better understand how sound and listening not only register the racial politics of our world, but actively produce them. Through analysis of the historical traces of sounds of African American performers, Stoever reveals a host of racialized aural representations operating at the level of the unseen—the sonic color line—and exposes the racialized listening practices she figures as “the listening ear.”

Using an innovative multimedia archive spanning 100 years of American history (1845-1945) and several artistic genres—the slave narrative, opera, the novel, so-called “dialect stories,” folk and blues, early sound cinema, and radio drama—The Sonic Color Line explores how black thinkers conceived the cultural politics of listening at work during slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. By amplifying Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, Charles Chesnutt, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Ann Petry, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Lena Horne as agents and theorists of sound, Stoever provides a new perspective on key canonical works in African American literary history. In the process, she radically revises the established historiography of sound studies. The Sonic Color Line sounds out how Americans have created, heard, and resisted “race,” so that we may hear our contemporary world differently.

How to participate

Harpur College students are eligible to participate in the Harpur Edge Book Club.

Book Club participants will receive a FREE copy of The Sonic Color Line AND an invitation to a discussion with author, Associate Professor Jennifer Lynn Stoever on April 12 (noon to 1pm). 

  • Open to first fourteen Harpur College students to register
  • Participants must be able to attend the virtual discussion on April 12
How to join:
  • Come to Harpur Edge Zoom office hours or the Harpur Edge office (Library North 1105)
  • Sign up on B-Engaged and mark your calendars or the meeting on April 12!
  • Receive your FREE book (compliments of Harpur Edge)!  You can pick up the book at the office or we can mail it to you if you are remote. 
Previous Harpur Edge Book Club selections:
  • Fall 2020: The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History by Anne C. Bailey
  • Spring 2019: Morning Altars: A 7 Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit Through Nature, Art and Ritual. by Day Schildkret ‘00
  • Fall 2018: The Feminist Revolution: The Struggle for Women's Liberation by Bonnie Morris ‘MA ’85, PhD ’88 and D-M Wither
  • Fall 2017: Find Your Whistle by Chris Ullman ’86
  • Spring 2016: Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses by Distinguished Service Professor Libby Tucker
  • Fall 2015: The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant MA'75
  • Spring 2015: The Laws of Gravity by Liz Rosenberg