In November 2018, I happened to come across a flyer for the WNYC podcast accelerator at the Werk It! Women’s Podcast Festival. Hosted by Kathy Tu (Nancy), the winner would receive two weeks of access to WNYC facilities and sound engineer support to produce a podcast pilot episode, with the potential for a full WNYC series. I was an avid podcast listener and had dabbled in audio production but had never attempted to produce a podcast episode before, let alone a whole show; I jumped at the chance purely out of interest.
Amazingly, I was named one of five finalists invited to pitch my show on the festival main stage. The show I pitched, SevenSevenThree Pod, is a historical and cultural examination of the Greater Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s Southside. I was born and raised in West Englewood and have sought ways to nuance narratives of this space my entire professional life. In my pitch episode, I interviewed my mom about the closure of Harper High School, the subject of a two-part This American Life series about urban violence and our neighborhood school of which she is an alumna.
Though my show did not win the accelerator, I was overwhelmed with support from audience members who connected with the show and my story. I was also fortunate to score a meeting with WBEZ producers after the festival. SevenSevenThree is currently paused, but I do plan to circle back and produce a full audio series on this topic.
I was the 2019-2020 Mellon Editorial Fellow at Northwestern University Press in Evanston, IL. During my fellowship I explored a variety of acquisitions-related marketing projects for the press, looking for new avenues to get NUP books in readers’ hands. Incidental Noyes, a joint podcast with 2020-2021 fellow and Northwestern Ph.D. candidate Iván Pérez-Zayaz, grew out of a solo audio project I’d played around with earlier in my tenure. This podcast paired backlist titles with forthcoming press titles and saw us discussing themes and connections between the two from our multifaceted perspectives (as scholarly publishing trainees and literature scholars working in different languages) , and we also planned to interview our editors and press authors about their work.
We were able to produce a test episode on Raúl Zurita’s Sky Below: Selected Works (Curbstone, 2016) before my fellowship ended, and we agreed that neither one of us could fully support producing the show on our own and without full financial support from the press (I was no longer an employee). Incidental Noyes is not in production, but both of us learned quite a bit about audio storytelling, show production, salvaging tape*, and scaffolding creative work in an underfunded industry. To be podcasting novices, we produced a pretty good episode too!
* The browser-based podcast recording software we used, which shall remain nameless, just didn’t save Iván’s 55 minute audio track. We just happened to be on FaceTime with each other while recording, and for some amazing and beautiful reason my mono track picked up all of Iván’s audio through FaceTime.
As part of my Mellon Editorial Fellowship at Northwestern University Press, I presented on a panel with my fellowship cohort about the future of scholarly publishing. After the panel, I was invited by Yelena Kalinsky at Michigan State University Press to write my remarks as a guest post in Feeding the Elephant. This collaboration between Humanities-Net and Michigan State University Press is “a place for conversations about scholarly communications in the arts, humanities, and social sciences,” and I offered comments on how I felt scholarly publishing could actionably change based on my fellowship experience.
For the past four years, I have been working on my doctoral dissertation tentatively titled Dirty Computer Data: Black Data Poetics. Over time, I have thought more and more about how my research connects with and has been deeply influenced by communities other than my own.
My project argues that Black women offer innovative ways of interacting with data surveillance and the surveillance state, and I consider the ways social media and data-based hardware bring high-level data analysis into our everyday lives. Increasingly, I cannot think about our tech future without thinking of our climate future, and I cannot think of our climate future without thinking of Indigenous futurity. In lieu of a more traditional and personal acknowledgments list and/or an Indigenous land acknowledgement, I decided to write a short piece acknowledging the fact that my education and research has been shaped by Indigenous genocide, and how our climate and therefore our tech futures are tied to Indigenous cultural restoration. Thinking deeply about cross-cultural and climate concerns in my research is a relatively new development, but it is important to me both that my project stakes a claim and is clear about where it is lacking.
As part of a recent audio production workshop application, I decided to play around with turning my acknowledgements into a short audio narrative. This is a roughly-edited draft of an early-morning second take, but from it I am excited to see how this piece can grow outside of my dissertation.
Intro & Outro Track: “Crescent Moon” by Purrple Cat [source]