Professor Capetola works at the intersections of queer, black, sound, affect, and performance studies. She is interested in how both sound and feltness complicate ocularcentric notions of representation. Her book project explores how two different groups of black pop stars in the 1980s (Janet Jackson, Grace Jones, and Prince) and in the 2010s (Blood Orange, FKA twigs, and Janelle Monáe) used femmeness to navigate their historical moments of protest and pandemic. Mobilizing vibration as an analytic, she utilizes sound’s feltness, or affective charge, to trace aesthetic and historical connections between both groups of artists. Through proposing that femmeness is a sonic, affective, and vibrational configuration, the book project seeks to expand on work in gender & sexuality and black studies that describes femme identity in terms of visuality. Writing reflectively from the moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, she additionally makes connections to the assaults on black lives (and people of color more broadly), women and femmes, and queer and trans people during the Reagan administration’s willful neglect of the AIDS epidemic in the early to mid-1980s. In the process, Professor Capetola posits that lingering with vibration’s oscillations might move us to organize in solidarity across lines of race, gender, and sexuality in the political and cultural uncertainties of 2020s America.
As an Andrea W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Fellow, Professor Capetola is organizing the Synth Sounds of the Texas Triangle symposium, which will take place at the University of Texas at Austin in April 2021. As a series of performances at the statue bases where the confederate statues were removed in the middle of the night from the UT-Austin campus in August 2017, these performances by electronic music artists from Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio will accentuate how anti-black racism and white supremacy more broadly continue in both Texas and America even after monuments come down. In a similar vein, the Synth Sounds Summer 2020 Series will explore how music can be a space for anti-racism and solidarity building.
Professor Capetola is also a music writer. She has written music criticism for Bitch Media and blogs about contemporary pop/r&b on her website, www.christinecapetola.com.
“Finding a Home in House: Tracing Vibrations of Black Queer Femmeness from Camille to Robin S. to FKA twigs” (forthcoming Fall 2021), Oxford Handbook of Electronic Dance Music, Luis-Manuel Garcia and Robin James (editors), Oxford.
“‘Gimme a Beat!’: Janet Jackson, Hyperaurality, and Affective Feminism” (forthcoming Winter 2020), Journal of Popular Music Studies.
“Future Sounds: Janelle Monáe and Cyberpunk Synthetics,” Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture (Fall 2019), Lars Schmeink, Anna McFarlane, and Graham Murphy (editors), Routledge.
“Starting Something: Synthesizers and Rhythmic Reorientations in Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean,’” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society 21:1 (Summer 2019): 77-95.
“Gimme a Beat: Janet Jackson’s Induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is Finally Here,” Bitch Media (Spring 2019). https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/janet-jackson-rock-roll-hall-fame