"I sing the body electric", Hull, 3 June 2014

“I sing the body electric”, Hull, 3 June 2014

“I sing the body electric”. Body as Voice from a Musicological, Technological, and Religious Studies Perspective

Research seminar

Body and being embodied is the fundamental mode of our existence. We rely on body to interact with each other and our environment through body language or sensations. As bodies, we also communicate with our voice – or the lack thereof. Voice extends body, embodies body outside of itself. While voice usually cannot be seen, it must materialize. It requires the material to be heard and through the material it can be felt or cause bodily sensations. Can voice as in/visible and im/material, then, be seen as a symbol for the condition humana? We are bodies, yet strangely we also must become bodies; we are embodied beings yet at the same time ephemeral. [expand title=”Continue reading…”]

As embodied beings, we use technology to extend the reach of our voice beyond the time and space. This technological extension of the voice can also be seen as a technological extension of body. Technology separates voice from bodily organs and doing so, it replaces body, it takes the body’s place. How do we as embodied beings, then, translate the disembodied voice into an embodied imaginary? And how does this translation- and imagination-process work when the original source of voice is technology itself rather than (a) body?

In a religious context, body, voice, and technology are crucial, too. One could argue that religion is intertwined with technologies and techniques of body and voice. “To sing is to pray twice” is an old saying suggesting that singing expresses bodily joy or sorrow, resonates with and emerges out of bodily sensations and experiences. The voice of God is thought of as trembling like thunder and Jesus, the Word of God, becomes body but also has performative qualities: through the Word all things were made. Visions of divine realms are often characterized using technologies that (re)produce voices and sound.

In the research seminar, we will discuss the relationship between body, voice, technology, and religion from an interdisciplinary perspective using approaches from musicological, technology, and religious studies. The aim is to discuss the current state of research, explores further areas of inquiry, and discuss what the imagined relationship between body/voice/technology/religion might tell us about the conditio humana.[/expand]

Program, Tuesday 3 June 2014

9.30 – 10.00: Opening, Welcome, Introduction

Alexander Darius Ornella
University of Hull

10.00 – 11.00: The Embodied Voice of God in the Hebrew Bible

Johanna Stiebert
University of Leeds

11.00 -11.30: Coffee break
11.30 – 12.30: “This voice has come for your sake” (12:30): Seeing and Hearing in John’s Gospel

Claudia Setzer
Manhattan College, NYC

12.30 – 14.00: Break
14.00 – 16.30: Voicing the Technological Body. Musicological and Philosophical Reflections.

A conversation with Stefan Sorgner (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Florian Heesch (University of Siegen)

Our Speakers:

Dr. Florian Heesch

Lecturer in Popular Music at the University of Siegen. His research interests include the influence of myths on heavy metal music and the relationship between music, gender, and sexuality.

Dr. Claudia Setzer

Professor for Biblical Studies at Manhattan College, NYC. Her research interests include he New Testament and Christian Origins, the tHebrew Bible and early Judaism, North African Christianity, and women interpreter of scripture.

Dr. Stefan Sorgner

Lecturer of Medical Ethics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. His research interests include the philosophy of music, bioethics, and meta-, post- and transhumanism.

Dr. Johanna Stiebert

Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Leeds. Her research interests include emotion terminology of the Hebrew Bible; ideological sub-texts of prophetic Hebrew Bible literature; father-daughter relations; reading Hebrew Bible texts in the light of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.


Registration is now closed.


Wilberforce East Lecture Room 32 (1st floor), School of Social Sciences, University of Hull.

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Dr. Alexander Darius Ornella
Lecturer in Religion, School of Social Sciences, University of Hull


Download the program as PDF.

Download the Seminar Poster as PDF.