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

Hickmott, Sarah

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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.


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

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 18, 2015
Publication Date 2015-10
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 7, 2021
Journal French Studies
Print ISSN 0016-1128
Electronic ISSN 1468-2931
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 69
Issue 4
Pages 479-493
Publisher URL https:/


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Copyright 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.

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