Derek Baron

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Historical Musicology, New York University

2022 to 2023
Research Fellow

The Biopolitics of Voice: Speech Sciences and the Articulation of Race in Nineteenth-Century America

This dissertation project addresses the emergence of the voice as an object of scientific inquiry in the American nineteenth century, arguing that the study of speech and voice has always been deeply imbricated with the shifting racial knowledges of early American governmentality. To investigate this, I look to a range of different domains of voice: philology, anthropology, “general” linguistics, elocution, and phonetics. In each of these domains, which make up my dissertation’s five body chapters, the voice is approached as bearing some kind of truth about the identity––racial or otherwise––of its speaker. By showing the American speech sciences to be fundamentally racialized, I offer an intervention on both the understudied field of the history of linguistics as well as the emerging field of voice studies.