Michael J. Price Lab for Digital Humanities

Paraphonotext in the PennSound Archive

Paraphonotext in the PennSound Archive

Orchid Tierney

PhD Candidate, English


Al Filreis, Kelly Family Professor of English; Director, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing; Faculty Director, Kelly Writers House; Co-director, PennSound

Funding Period: 
September, 2017

The paraphonotext—the prefatory and interruptive remarks appended to a poetry reading—is often vital for understanding poets in whose performances the poem and its contextual information bleed into one another. These unplanned or improvised remarks can not only situate and localize the reading but they are often a rich source for cultural information, such as a poem’s history and influences, and the poet’s social network and praxis. More, these paraphonotexts provoke a host of questions: Have the durations of introductions to poets become longer or shorter over time? How do identity and venue markers such as gender, age, fame, and reading series affect the poet’s paratextual content and patterns? And is it possible to identify social networks between poets in the PennSound archive by tagging who introduces readers and who is mentioned in paratextual remarks during the performance of a poem? By taking a closer look at the recordings in the PennSound archive, it may be possible to draw valuable new insights into the relationships between the paratext and the poem, the poet and his/her social network. 

Orchid Tierney received her MA at the University of Otago (NZ), MCW at the University of Auckland (NZ), and is currently PhD candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in new media studies, technoculture, and contemporary poetry and poetics with a particular interest in media archaeology, digital humanities, and waste studies. She is currently a reviews editor for Jacket2 and co-edits the annual Supplement anthology, published by the Creative Writing Program and the Kelly Writers House at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. Her work has appeared in Jacket2, Journal of Modern Literature, and elsewhere.