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(En) Corps Sonore: Jean-Luc Nancy’s “Sonotropism”

Hickmott, Sarah (2015) '(En) Corps Sonore: Jean-Luc Nancy’s “Sonotropism”.', French studies., 69 (4). pp. 479-493.


This article offers a critical, feminist, and interdisciplinary account of the question of listening in Jean-Luc Nancy's 2002 text, À l'écoute. Nancy's text is at once an auditory counterpart to his larger philosophical project; an articulation of the specifically sonorous subject; and a more expressly musicological contribution to his other work on the literary and visual arts. While Nancy's — among others' — attempts at steering philosophy away from or beyond a visual bias proliferate, considerably less commentary has been devoted to the way in which inherited ideas about aesthetic ‘objects’ — in this case music— already inhabit certain conceptions of the senses. By paying close attention to the characterization and inclusion of music in the corps sonore, and by tracing the genealogies of Nancy's thought on music (and sound), this article will finally offer a rereading of Nancy's oto-iconographical reading of Titian's Venus and Cupid with an Organist; one that highlights the ethical and political dimensions of Nancy's position. I shall argue that problematic and preconceived notions about the supposed nature of music abound in Nancy's philosophy of listening, revealing a metaphysical (sono)tropism that is all too familiar.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:07 January 2021
Date of first online publication:18 September 2015
Date first made open access:07 January 2021

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