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This chapter develops a theory of Black cacophony as an aesthetic of noise within language, at its limits. Black cacophony is black sonic radicality and resistance expressed via textual enactments of screaming, wailing, blabbering, moaning, howling. Reading cacophonous moments in literary depictions of New World slavery and its afterlives, this chapter pursues two critical objectives: 1) to illuminate the ways in which dissonant, evocative sound registers the affective dimensions of black experience, while complicating racial epistemologies and conventional narratives of racial harm, and 2) to show how language, when divested of its primary purpose of communication, is objectified and made available for scrutiny and for imaginative design. At the edge of discourse, or in its exhaustion, are the sonic resonances of form. Black cacophony is a technique of textual representation that marks the superfluity and the insufficiency of language for capturing exploited or discarded subaltern life while insisting, in its sentient soundings, that such life matters.

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