Voicing Gender in Hispanic Letters, Theater, Cinema and Other Media
In her 2003 A Più Voci Filosofia Dell’espressione Vocale (For More than One Voice: Towards a Philosophy of Vocal Expression), Adriana Cavarero claims that in affirming the ideal of a disembodied vision, Western metaphysics and other long-dominant discourses have historically turned a deaf ear to the embodied voice. It is no secret that vision and rationality were for centuries gender-coded as male. Cavarero reminds readers that the spoken, inflected, affect-laden voice (as opposed to the thinking, silent voice) has been linked predominantly to female bodies. Systematically excluded, some women found ways to insert their singular voices in these otherwise soundproof discourses. Much of Cavarero’s book is a record of this counterhistory.
Although Cavarero’s emphasis on the singularity of vocal expression opens up new ways of looking at women’s voices in writing, in the theater, films, or other media, the silencing of women’s voices and the need to reclaim them has long been recognized as a reality by feminist thinkers and continues to be the subject of study in multiple disciplines. In their award-winning Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, historians Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry (2010), propose new methodologies for finding women’s voices in the archives, even if doing so might require reading archival documents “against the grain”. Yet women were not the only group whose voices were distorted or suppressed because they were deemed irrational, irritating or dangerous.
Voices not perceived as falling within the literal or metaphorical vocal range traditionally assigned to a particular gender have also suffered a similar fate. As our association has expanded its purview to include masculinity studies, queer studies and transgender studies, we hope this topic will encourage participation from colleagues and students working with queer authors and filmmakers as well as queer theory in relation to Hispanic texts, films and other media.