English Professor and Graduate Students to Present Keynote Panel

From left to right: Stephany Bravo, Emery Petchauer, Vanessa Aguilar

Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor in the Department of English, will virtually present a keynote panel, “Breaking and Making: Hip-Hop Aesthetics Across Place, Sound, and the Moving Image,” along with graduate students Jared Millburn, Vanessa Aguilar, and Stephany Bravo as part of the Sound Studies, Writing, and Rhetoric Conference.

The graduate students were part of Petchauer’s BreakBeat Lit: Hip-Hop Generation Sounds and Stories course, which focused on the aesthetics of hip-hop as they appear in stories, poetry, music, sound, and dance.

“My panel introduction is a DJ set and explanation of ‘the break,’ Petchauer said. “Stephany is performing a testimonial about Compton, her hometown. Jared is showing an excerpt of a film he made with commentary. Vanessa is presenting her paper on duende in Funkadelic and Childish Gambino. The common element across all presentations is a focus on hip-hop aesthetic.”

Flier for the BreakBeat Lit seminar held in December 2019

The Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing Conference gives scholars the opportunity to present and analyze sound-based creative works and research. The keynote panel will take place on Saturday, October 3.

“I floated the idea to some students in class that we extend some of our seminar work into this conference since it fits,” Petchauer said. “After it was accepted, we met every few weeks to check in on progress, give one another feedback, and get ready to present. We tried to keep working together rather than apart — just like in the seminar.”

Throughout the course, Petchauer challenged his students to think critically as a presenter, with questions such as “what’s the groove of your paper that the public might feel?”

Dr. Emery Petchauer

For her project, Aguilar looked to Tara Betts’s poem, “Life is Good,” for inspiration. Here, Aguliar focused on the spiritual power of dunde and how to experience it in music.

“What makes my project unique to me is that I was able to apply two concepts together to analyze two funk songs, Funkadelic’s ‘Good to Your Earhole’ and ‘Riot’ by Childish Gambino,” Aguilar said. “This is the first time I have presented music and sound studies. I was able to engage with music not just by analyzing the lyrics, but by feeling it.”

Despite complications from the ongoing pandemic, Petchauer and his students were able to persevere in order to present their projects by maintaining collaboration and sticking together as a team.

“We have worked together as a unit,” Aguilar said. “It has been a space where we have shared ideas, asked for opinions, and cheered each other on.

Written by Alec Parr