Alex Murphy

Clockwise from left: Fumiko Kawabata, Eiga no Tomo (July 1938), flyer for Zenkoku Nomin Sogo Taikai (April 1935), in-studio session for JOAK program ‘santo no bunka wo kataru (1933), promotional image for NHK Tokyo station JOAK.

Alex Murphy (PhD Student, EALC)
“The Era of the Voice: Performance, Technology, and Politics in Japan, 1918-1942”
Wednesday, February 14th, 4:30-6:30pm in CEAS 319
Discussant: Nicholas Lambrecht (PhD Candidate, EALC)

Please join us Wednesday (2/14) from 4:30-6:30pm as we host Alex Murphy (PhD Student in EALC). He will present a draft of his dissertation proposal, which he summarizes as follows:

The 1920s and 30s in Japan witnessed a striking degree of attention converge on the voice in poetry, theater, and popular music. Alert to recent advances in radio, commercial recording, and sound film, artists, intellectuals, and activists sought to reckon with the human voice both as an increasingly powerful medium of public self-expression as well as a material and aesthetic object of mediation itself. For poets and musicians in turn, sound technology seemed at once to enliven new modes of vocal expression while ironically threatening the very sense of immediacy and authorial presence that drew many to the voice in the first place. At the same time, the transit of voices and bodies on records and radio waves across the Pacific and throughout Japan’s heterogeneous empire invited unruly expressions of subjectivity across audible markers of race, gender, and culture. By addressing this historical moment as an ‘era of the voice,’ then, my dissertation project explores how these discursive and technological currents manifested in embodied vocal practice, and how an attunement to these sounds might help to rethink the culture and politics of interwar Japan.

The paper is available directly below, or at this link. If you have not received the password, or have questions about accessibility, please feel free to contact Helina Mazza-Hilway ( or Susan Su (


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