What Are The Sounds of the Lower Frequencies?


The Lower Frequencies is the podcast that grew out of the African American Studies Department at Yale University and is written and hosted by graduate student Nicholas Forster. First produced in 2013, The Lower Frequencies attempts to bridge the gap between academia and the broader public, examining the lives of academics, artists and activists.

Too often the processes behind educational institutions and graduate school are hidden and mythic. For those outside of the academic institution, the avenues and motivations can appear invisible and unclear. The long process of becoming a professor, a journey which is as intellectual as it is personal, is shielded exclusively by a scholar's work. The Lower Frequencies started in part as an attempt to reveal some of those pathways and explore the histories of scholars, artists and a variety of figures related to academia. Behind any act of creation, whether the writing of a book or the production of a painting, there is always a process. We try to listen to the roots and routes of such an act. After all, every historian has his or her own history.

The Lower Frequencies, at its foundation, takes seriously the fact that many have no idea how a professor acquires knowledge or how autobiography feeds into the desires and forms of one's work. If you've never known an academic, it may very well seem impossibly complicated or confused. At a time when the academic job market appears more perilous than ever, it is important to know what is behind a scholar's output. Equally important is making that process of professorship legible and understandable rather than mystical. What does it mean to devote yourself to such an intellectual pursuit? Where do the personal and the professional collide? How are one's scholarly contributions informed by their personal trajectory? Who makes up the Ebony and Ivory Towers of academia?

Informed by the lives of those in and around African American Studies, The Lower Frequencies probes into the lives behind book jackets and underneath painted canvases. With our ear to the ground we try to listen to those too-seldom heard stories, we try to amplify the lower frequencies.

For inquiries, information contact Nicholas [dot] Forster [at] yale [dot] edu


The Lower Frequencies is recorded at the Yale Media Broadcast Center in New Haven, Connecticut.



Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?
— Ralph Ellison