Dakota Darwin

2024 Oral/Performing Arts Symposium Winner

1st Place: Music, Art, Literature, Theater, History & Philosophy I Category

Sonic Futures: Janelle Monáe’s Afrofuturistic Soundscapes of Queer Liberation

Faculty Mentor(s): Prof. Sika Dagbovie-Mullins & Prof. Karina Vado

Abstract: In the dynamic realm of contemporary music, artists often transcend their roles as mere entertainers, becoming conduits for cultural reflection and societal critique. Janelle Monáe, positioned at this nexus, occupies a creative oeuvre that uniquely explores the intersection of queerness, identity, and Afrofuturism. This research endeavors to delve into the nuanced exploration of queerness and Blackness as imagined by Janelle Monáe in her emotion picture Dirty Computer, with a specific focus on the role of Afrofuturism as a narrative tool. By addressing the limited discourse surrounding the intersection of queerness, identity politics, and Afrofuturism in contemporary literature, this research provides a disruption to the prevailing silence and ultimately amplifies marginalized voices and fosters a more inclusive discourse within cultural studies.