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Sound at SCMS 2013


SCMSlogo-roundFor the 2013 Society for Cinema and Media Studies meeting in Chicago, Sounding Out!  enlisted one of our favorite guest writers, radio scholar Neil Verma (whom you’ll remember from our excellent Tune Into the Past series from summer 2012).  When we heard the news that his recent book Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics and Radio Drama (University of Chicago Press) won this year’s SCMS first book prize  we were ecstatic. . .and not surprised in the least. It’s brilliant–for a taste read Neil’s SO! blog post from June 2012, “Radio’s “Oblong Blur”: Notes on the Corwinesque”). So, please join us in congratulating Neil, and then,  join Neil for a thoughtful preview of sound studies at SCMS 2013.  He’s one of the reasons why it’s such a great year for the field. —Editor-in-Chief, Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman

For the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), this year may mark the point at which sound studies became – likely temporarily, and perhaps distressingly – normal. That’s something to ponder at this year’s annual conference of the Society, which takes place from March 6th to the 10th at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

SCMS last came to the Second City in 2007. A glance at the panels from that year highlights how quickly the conference has expanded. If you exclude ads, this year’s program is 80 pages longer than its counterpart six years ago. Back then, SCMS featured 323 panels and workshops. This year there are 456. And sound studies work has grown disproportionately. In 2007, by my count, there were just 13 panels with two or more papers featuring sound as an “analytical point of departure or arrival,” to borrow language that Jonathan Sterne has recently used to characterize the field. This time we have 31 such panels.

That’s a lot of foot traffic. And it’s extremely good news for the field. But if these trends continue, it is also true that visitors focused on sound may only be able to attend a fraction of all panels and papers on the subject. As a result, sound has transformed from one possible pathway through SCMS into a field of many possible itineraries. Not only is the durability of that situation tenuous, but its intellectual ramifications are as unclear as they are promising.

Sound Art Installation in Downtown Chicago, Image by Flickr user meironke

Sound Art Installation in Downtown Chicago, Image by Flickr user meironke

A Conference in Transition

As it grows, the SCMS conference is restructuring. In a move sure to stir controversy, for instance, the Society has taken the experimental step of dramatically scaling back its slate of screenings, citing poor attendance at such events during recent conferences in Boston and New Orleans. Seen in conjunction with other developments – a focus on social media (follow @SCMStudies on Twitter), expanded online video, and a marvelous new podcast sponsored by Cinema Journal – the reduction of screenings represents a small step away from the cinema as a privileged object of study and experience.

That idea is borne out by the offerings. This year’s conference features as much exciting work on Call of Duty as on The Clock, with more papers on Girls than on Godard, along with compelling offerings on topics ranging from Rancière to Revenge, from Warhol to Lego, and home movies to Grindr. The word “television” appears on 58 pages of the current catalog; back in 2007 it appeared on just 14. As Barbara Klinger points out in her introduction to the program, this year truly elevates the “M” for “Media” in “SCMS.”

Skeptics may see a conference drifting from its raison d’être, while optimists will see an increasingly capacious meeting that is willing to undertake the experimentation for which many members have long been calling. As the conference grows, both sides can expect perhaps less intimacy than in previous years, with more of the action localizing around Caucuses and Scholarly Interest Groups (SIGs).

Neil Verma's Theater of the Mind (University of Chicago Press)

Neil Verma’s Theater of the Mind (University of Chicago Press)

That’s true for sound. This year marks the debut of a new Radio Studies SIG, recognizing an area of scholarship that has been growing steadily for decades. Congratulations to Bill Kirkpatrick and Alex Russo, among others, for bringing this about. Readers interested in the radio SIG should hop over to Antenna to read Kirkpatrick’s terrific piece on the emergence of radio studies at SCMS this year (and be sure to catch his paper on disability and radio on Saturday at 1:00).  In conjunction with the Sound Studies SIG, which has been driving a sound agenda since Jay Beck and Tony Grajeda helped form it in 2007, the Radio SIG is sure to be a magnet for future presenters and an advocate within the institutional SCMS structure.

The Radio SIG’s inaugural workshop features leading scholars to explore critical approaches (9:00 – 10:45 on Saturday), and that should be at the top of the agenda for SO! readers. I’m pleased to report that the Radio SIG’s first official meeting (9:00-10:45 on Sunday) will feature special guest Johanna Zorn, founder and Executive Director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival. The Sound SIG, meanwhile, helmed by Norma Coates and Tim Anderson, will hold its annual meeting on Friday (12:15-2:00) with an exciting presentation by John Corbett and Terri Kapsalis, who will speak about Sun Ra and his place in the history of Chicago sound and visual culture. Beyond these marquee events, these two SIGs together will sponsor a total of 13 panels this year.

That’s already quite an itinerary. Now let’s look deeper.

Further Highlights

In her SCMS post last year, Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman called for an effort to reimagine sound studies in the larger architecture of SCMS. She wrote,

Very few panels engage with sound as a primary modality and there are far less individual papers threading sound into panel discussions not explicitly about sound.  We need more of both kinds of scholarly engagement […]

Image by Flicker user pbeens

Image by Flicker user pbeens

Indeed. While many problems persist, including an uneven focus on music – it’s odd to see so little on music in a city rich in its history, from Bronzeville to Bloodshot Records – this year’s offerings also show great progress. Panels that engage sound as a primary modality have fresh takes on established subjects (Hollywood film music, voice narration in documentary, archiving, etc.) but many also raise subjects that SCMS might have been wary of in previous years, such as earth-sensing, sound in film noir and video game sound. And there is tremendous creativity in individual papers, with scholars engaging topics from sound in Yiddish Cinema and Russian pop to the Black audio film archive and player pianos in education, all sprinkled among panels considering other issues. There are not one but two papers about sound in Terrence Malick’s films, in two separate panels, neither of which is about sound.

What other goodies can you find this year? I’m glad you asked. Here are some highlights

  • There are a couple of terrific panels on gender and sexuality this year. I’d recommend starting off your visit to SCMS by attending a panel on film music that Norma Coates is hosting on Wednesday (10:00-11:45), and following up with Jennifer Wang’s panel “Gender Trouble across the Dial” on Friday (9:00-10:45).
  • On Thursday (from 9:00 to 10:45) I’m pleased to be chairing a panel with Jacob Smith, Mary Ann Watson, Shawn VanCour, and Alex Russo considering radio writer Norman Corwin as a transmedia author, continuing a project that we started on this blog last summer. Those interested in sites of overlap between radio and other media institutions should also check out “Radio in Transition” (Friday, 11:00-12:45), chaired by Cynthia Meyers, and “Economies of Media Industries” (Saturday, 3:00-4:45), featuring Jim Lastra and Douglas Gomery.
  • The panel “Earth-Sensing” (Wednesday, 2:00-3:45) looks compelling, with work by Lisa Parks on broadcast infrastructure and Google Earth, as well as a presentation by Janet Walker on audiovisualizations of sea level rise. It might pair well with a panel on deep history later that day (4:00-5:45) which will feature, among other topics, Mack Hagood speaking on the work of Irv Teibel.
  • Another great pairing is available on Friday. Try attending “Sounding the Radio Archive” (12:15-2:00), with projects from junior scholars and a response from Debra Rae Cohen. Then check out “Live Sound in Film and Television” (2:15-4:00), featuring exciting work on rockumentary by Michael Baker and sound in situation comedy by Foley artist Vanessa Ament-Gjenvick. Together, these panels should give newcomers a good sense of the future of sound studies.
  • One theme that has emerged this year is a renewed interest in processes of adoption and incorporation of sound technology. For that, consider attending “Transitional Soundtracks” on early Hollywood film music (Thursday, 3:00-4:45), “Channeling Stereo Histories” (Saturday, 5:00-6:45), and “Rethinking Technologies of Audiovision” (Sunday, 9:00-10:45).
  • There are two panels on sound in the mass media in Japan, each in a different period: “Archeologies of Intermediality in Prewar Japanese Cinema” (Friday, 2:15-4:00) and “Japanese Celebrity Cultures” (Saturday, 5:00-6:45). Only one is sponsored by Sound Studies, so the appearance of both may be a fortuitous coincidence.
  • Another cluster of panels forms around issues of voice, talk, and orality. On Wednesday, there’s “Orality and Storytelling” (10:00-11:45), followed by “Speech, Music and the Sound of Film and Media” (12:00-145). On Thursday, there’s “Spectators: Sound and Talk” (1:00-2:45) and “Vocal Projections: The Disembodied Voice in Documentary” (5:00-6:45). Then on Saturday there is “The Actor’s Voice” (1:00-2:45) and “Cinema Sound, Music, and Voice” (3:00-4:45).
  • Don’t forget the workshops! There’s great stuff this year on platform studies, spreadable media, and close reading, as well as several meetings on teaching and job searching. Attending these will give you a chance to hear from Mary Ann Doane, Michele Hilmes, Henry Jenkins, Peter Krapp, Jason Loviglio, Jason Mittell, Elena Razlogova and Jonathan Sterne, to name just a few.

That’s a lot of material, and it’s not even everything, which is precisely my point. For maybe the first time, SCMS has far more sound studies material than you can feasibly attend.

So is it time to indulge the pernicious scholarly habit of naming a moment of change and uncertainty as one of emergence? Should we declare that sound has come of age at last, a cliché that, as Michele Hilmes has pointed out, sound studies has been using for a hundred years?

Let’s not and say we did. There’s much more to do in terms of diversifying objects and cultures for sonic exploration. And rather than seeing papers that study sound in new ways, I’d love to see future presenters using sound in innovative ways to think about objects and events well outside the perimeter of sound studies, drawing experimental modes of listening in to the conference experience and challenging how scholarship itself is fashioned and displayed.

Chicago-based artist Nick Cave's "sound suits," Image by Flickr User Jeremy Zilar

Chicago-based artist Nick Cave’s “sound suits,” Image by Flickr User Jeremy Zilar

As well as being a point of analytical departure and arrival, after all, sound is also a way of traveling between points. Sterne is right when, in the introduction to The Sound Studies Reader,  he argues that sound studies should be a place where sonic imaginations are “challenged, nurtured, refreshed and transformed” (10),  but sound studies can do that for other kinds of imaginaries, too. Sound is a medium to be studied, but it is also a way of doing media studies, and that is a property that should be highlighted in a scholarly society open to transition.

Or, to put it another way, as sound scholarship worms its way ever further into the mainstream of SCMS, let’s do our best to keep it weird.

Note: Below I’ve listed times for panels that I’m guessing will be of most interest to SO! readers, plus special events and a few sessions that touch on professional matters. This year, SCMS has not released the room assignments on the PDF circulated prior to the event, so attendees will have to find that information in the printed catalog. I’m sorry for any errors or omissions. If your panel is missing or I’ve made some other mistake, please email me at and I’ll be happy to amend this post. 

Neil Verma is a Harper-Schmidt Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago, where he teaches media aesthetics. Verma works on radio and its intersection with other media, and has taught subjects including film studies, sound, art history, literature, critical theory and intellectual history. His book, Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama, is published by the University of Chicago Press and is the winner of the 2013 SCMS First Book Prize.

Chicago-based artist Nick Cave's "sound suits," Image by Flickr User Jeremy Zilar

Chicago-based artist Nick Cave’s “Sound Suits,” Image by Flickr User Jeremy Zilar

Jump to WEDNESDAY, March 6
Jump to THURSDAY, March 7
Jump to FRIDAY, March 8
Jump to SATURDAY, March 9
Jump to SUNDAY, March 10


Session A 10:00 – 11:45 a.m.

A19. Film Music: Gender, Sexuality, and Taste Formations


Jack Curtis Dubowsky, ACADEMY OF ART UNIVERSITY,  “Louisiana Story, Homoeroticism, Hollywood, and Americana Music”

Landon Palmer, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON, “Pre‐existing Film Music as Traveling Text: The Case of 2001: A Space Odyssey”

Zhichun Lin,  OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY,  “Presenting Her through Music: The Theme Music of the Chinese Film Version of Letter from an Unknown Woman”

Norma Coates, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO , “‘5% of It Is Good’: Leonard Bernstein, CBS Reports, and the Cultural Accreditation of Rock Music”


A22. Orality and Storytelling


Kester Dyer,  CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY, “Storytelling and Testimony: Archiving Melancholia in Alanis Obomsawin’s Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance”

Katherine Brewer Ball,  NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “The ‘Brainwashing’ of Patty Hearst and Sharon Hayes: Forging Alliances and Forgetting the Lines”

Yifen Beus, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, HAWAII,  “Deterritorializing Essentialism: Narrating Place and Space in Filming the South Seas”

Sheila Petty, UNIVERSITY OF REGINA,  “Spaces in‐Between: Zahra’s Mother Tongue as Performative Documentary”


Session B 12:00 – 1:45 p.m.

B19. Speech, Music, and the Sound of Film and Media


Nishant Shahani, WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY, PULLMAN,  “‘I Have a Voice’: Speech, Silence, and the Redemption of Empire”

Eric Dienstfrey, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “New Methods of Multichannel Surround Sound Analysis and Contemporary Film Aesthetics”

Brian Fauteux, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “Satellite Sounds and the Transnational Circulation of Music”

Heather Warren‐Crow, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MILWAUKEE, “The Phonetics of Early Video Art”


B21. Workshop on Publishing on Digital Platforms

Chair: Christopher Hanson,  SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY








Session C 2:00 – 3:45 p.m.

C4. Character and Performance

Chair: Matthew Solomon, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Ganga Rudraiah, INDEPENDENT SCHOLAR, “Singing and Dancing like an ‘Aravaani’: Emerging Articulations of Transgender Performances in Contemporary Tamil Cinema”

Kim Wilkins, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY, “Cast of Characters: The American Eccentrics and Pure Cinematic Characterization”

Elizabeth Alsop, WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY, “The Imaginary Crowd: Neorealism and the Uses of Coralità”


C20. Earth‐Sensing: Media Above and Below the Surface

Chair: Nicole Starosielski, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY


SANTA BARBARA, “Moving to Higher Ground?: Documentary Film and (Other) Scientific Audiovisualizations of Sea Level Rise”

Lisa Parks, UNIVESITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA, “Signal Territories: Studying US Broadcast Infrastructure Using Google Earth”

Eva Hayward, UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO, “Technologies of Migration: Conservation Science and Whale Media”

Nicole Starosielski, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “Sensing the Seafloor: Undersea Observatories and the Contours of Media Distribution”


C21.Workshop on Platform Studies: Debating the Future of a Field

Chair: Caetlin Benson‐Allott, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY






Session D 4:00 – 5:45 p.m.

D12. Deep History II Insight from Artifacts


Kyle Stine, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, “Cybernetic Movie Machines: Norbert Wiener’s Cinema Integraph and Richard S. Morse’s Data Soundtracks”

Sindhu Zagoren, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA‐CHAPEL HILL, “We Want the Airwaves: Early Radio and the Struggle for Airspace”

Mack Hagood, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, “Nixon, Mobster, Bigfoot: The Performative Audio Media Forensics of Irv Teibel”



SANTA BARBARA, “The Role of Spanish Language Radio in the United States”

B7. Brian Gregory, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, “Packaging Sound for Schools: Selling the Player‐Piano and the Phonograph to American Education”

C12. Matthew Malsky, CLARK UNIVERSITY, “Early CinemaScope Sound Experiments”

D4. Lauhona Ganguly, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY “Production Cultures and Cultural Re‐Productions in a Global Television Industry: Rethinking Global Cultural Economy with Indian Idol”

D7. David Harvey, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA,  “Rethinking Voice in the Essay Film Form”


Special Events Wednesday Evening

6:00 – 8:00 pm

Caucus/SIG special event

Remembering the Life & Legacy of Alexander Doty

Grand Ballroom, Lobby Level


6:00 – 9:00 pm

Caucus/SIG special event

Public Media 2.0

A Conversation on the Future of Urban Documentary and Social Change

Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Avenue

Crown Fountain, Millennium Park, Chigaco, Image by Flickr user blg002

Crown Fountain, Millennium Park, Chigaco, Image by Flickr user blg002


Session E 9:00 – 10:45 a.m.

E9. Sounds and Silences

Chair: Charles Kronengold, STANFORD UNIVERSITY

Chelsey Crawford, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Sound Off: Absolute Cinematic Silence and the Unconscious”

Manuel Garin, UNIVERSITY OF POMPEU FABRA, “Silent Film Gameplay: Keaton, Mario, and the Misadventures of Visual Freedom”

Charles Kronengold, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, “Puzzling Interfacing, Musical Thinking, and Multisensory Experience”


E16. Workshop. Scholarly Social Media: Successes, Failures, and Future

Chair: Elizabeth Ellcessor, INDIANA UNIVERSITY







Session F 11:00 – 12:45 p.m.

F22. Norman Corwin and Transmedia Authorship


Jacob Smith, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “Norman Corwin’s Radio Realism”

Mary Ann Watson, EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY, “Norman Corwin and the Big Screen: Artistic Differences”

Shawn VanCour, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, “Corwin on Television: A Transmedia Approach to Style Historiography”

Alexander Russo, THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, “Sonic Legacy: Exploring the ‘Corwinesque’ in Radiolab”


Session G 1:00 – 2:45 p.m.

G13. Spectators: Sound and Talk

Chair: CarrieLynn Reinhard, DOMINICAN UNIVERSITY

Leo Rubinkowski, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “‘When You Know the Words to Sing . . .’: Sing‐Along Exhibition and Participatory Audiences”

Annie Dell’ Aria, THE GRADUATE CENTER, CUNY, “Doug Aitken’s Song 1: Cinema‐in‐the‐Round”

Carter Moulton, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MILWAUKEE, “Reading Accents: Subtitles and Spectatorship in Multiplex Cinema”

CarrieLynn Reinhard,DOMINICAN UNIVERSITY, “Answering the Whats, Hows, and Whys of Film Spectatorship: An Empirical Investigation and Comparison of Film Reception”


Session H 3:00 – 4:45 p.m.

H16. Transitional Soundtracks: The Vicissitudes of Hollywood Film Music, 1927–1933


Lea Jacobs, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “Words and Music: Dialogue Underscoring in the Early Musical”

Michael Slowik, KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY, “From Presentational Aesthetics to Narrative Absorption: Film Music in Warner Bros. Part‐Talkies, 1927–1929”

Jeff Smith, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “What Exactly Is a Partial Cue?: Jurisdictional Conflict in Warner Bros. Films of the Early Sound Era”

Katherine Spring, WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY and Maggie Clark, WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY, “Trading on Songs: The Emergence of the Musical Genre in the Trade Press”


H23. Workshop on Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture.







Session I 5:00 – 6:45 p.m.

I7. Vocal Projections The Disembodied Voice in Documentary


Shilyh Warren, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS, “Documentary Attunement and Earthly Crisis”

Maria Pramaggiore, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, “‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’: The Disembodied Voice in Rock Documentary”

Jean Walton, UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND, “Animating Voices, Onscreen and Off, in Kathleen Shannon’s Working Mothers”

Respondent: Jason Middleton, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER


I22. Off Beat
Music/Film Mismatches


Caryl Flinn, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, “Christopher Plummer Learns to Sing”

Kathryn Kalinak, RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE, “How the West Was Off‐Beat: Howard Hawks, Dimitri Tiomkin, and the Score for The Big Sky”

Krin Gabbard, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY, “‘What Is This Music?’: Jimmy Knepper with Charles Mingus and Tom Cruise”

Respondent: Kay Dickinson, CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY


I23. Workshop on Success and Survival in the 21st Century: Career Strategies for Under‐
or Unrepresented Graduate Students and Early Career Faculty in Film and Media Studies

Chair: Theresa L. Geller GRINNELL COLLEGE









E20. Mark Hain, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, “Visualizing the Great American Songbook: Queer Archiving, Class, and Memory”

F3. Joan McGettigan, TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY, “Play This Movie Loud: Sound and Silence in Terrence Malick Films”

F4. Michelle Cho, BROWN UNIVERSITY, “K‐pop, YouTube and ‘Pop Cosmopolitanism’ in the Digital Age”

F7. Diego Zavala, MONTERREY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND HIGHER EDUCATION, “Voice, Testimony, and Reflexivity in Werner Herzog ́s Documentary Films”

F11. Shannon Mattern, THE NEW SCHOOL, “Echoes and Entanglements: A Sonic Archaeology of the City”

F13. Colleen Montgomery, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, “Pixarticulation: Vocal Performance in the Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Franchises”

G5. Steven Rybin, GEORGIA GWINNETT COLLEGE, “Beyond the Voice: Patterns of Performance in Terrence Malick’s Films”

URBANA‐CHAMPAIGN, “Noise in Chinese Neorealist Cinema: A Temporary Reverse Hierarchy (TRH) Model and Political Statements”

G20. Hannah Hamad, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, “Musical Moments of Women’s Work and Affective Labor on Contemporary British Television”

H4. Regina Arnold, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, “Hardly Strictly Utopia: Race, Space, and the American Rock Festival”

H22. Maura Edmond, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE, “Here We Go Again: Making (and Remaking) Music Videos After YouTube”

I3. Melissa Click, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, “Making Monsters: Lady Gaga, Social Media, and Fan Culture”

I9. Vanessa Chang, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, “Audiovisualizations: Musical Screens and the Sound Image”

I12. Rachel Haidu, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER, “Triangulation and Transmission in the Works of Black Audio Film Collective, James Coleman, and Steve McQueen”

I17. Desiree Garcia, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Everything Old Is New Again: The Sing‐Along Musical Film”


Special Events Thursday Evening

5:30 – 7:00 pm

Youth Film Festival—Competition

DePaul University, Downtown Campus, 14 E. Jackson


8:00 pm


Rediscoveries in the Phil Morton Archive

Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State Street


9:00 pm

Chicago Symphonies: Nontheatrical Shorts from the Chicago Film Archives

Cinema Borealis, 1550 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 4th floor

(Please note: there is no elevator)

Seating is extremely limited. (Reservations Martin Johnson (

Frank Gehry-designed sound system at the Pritzker Music Pavilion in Millennium Park, Chicago, Image by Flickr User anita 363

Frank Gehry-designed sound system at the Pritzker Music Pavilion in Millennium Park, Chicago, Image by Flickr User anita 363



Session J 9:00 – 10:45 a.m.

J12. Gender Trouble across the Dial: Disrupting Conventions of Women’s Mediated Representation in Radio and Television, 1930–1960


Jennifer Wang, INDEPENDENT SCHOLAR, “‘Recipe for Laughs’: Comedy While Cleaning in Housekeeping Radio Programs”

Kathryn Fuller‐Seeley, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, “‘What Are You Laughing At, Mary?’: Transgressive Women and Gender Performance on the Jack Benny Radio Program”

Catherine Martin, BOSTON UNIVERSITY,  “Adventure’s Fun, but Wouldn’t You Rather Get Married?: Gender Roles and the Office Wife in Radio Detective Dramas”

Joanne Morreale, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, “Dreams and Disruption: The Fifties Sitcom”


J18. Workshop on Surface Tension: The Stakes and Fates of Close Analysis


Co-chair: Karl Schoonover, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK






J19. Sound in Video Games and Interactive Media


Chris Russell, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “The Atari VCS and the Making of Digital Sound”

Costantino Oliva, UNIVERSITY OF MALTA, “Soundmarks in Digital Games Soundscapes”

Lori Landay, BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC ,“Sound, Embodiment, and the Experience of Interactivity in Video Games and Virtual Environments”

Respondent: Benjamin Aslinger, BENTLEY UNIVERSITY


J23. Workshop on Digital Humanities and Film and Media Studies: Staging an Encounter


Co-Chair: Jason Mittell, MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE






Session K 12:15 – 2:00 p.m.

K14. Sounding the Radio Archive

Chair: Ian Whittington, MCGILL UNIVERSITY

Katherine McLeod, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, “Acoustic Archives: Listening to the CBC Radio Archives of Anthology”

Melissa Dinsman, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME, “Clogged Networks: The Theoretical and Practical Difficulties of Radio Archivization”

Ian Whittington, MCGILL UNIVERSITY, “Tracing the Voice: Una Marson and the Ethics of the Radio Archive”



* Meeting of the Sound Studies Schoarly Interest Group *

12:15 – 2:00 pm

The Club International Room, Lobby Level


Session L 2:15 – 4:00 p.m.

L4. Live Sound in Film and Television


Co-chair: Randolph Jordan, SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

Benjamin Wright, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ,“We’ll Fix it in Post: The Professional and Creative Constraints of Production Sound Mixing”

Vanessa Ament‐Gjenvick, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY,  “Mad About You: Production Sound Challenges in 
the Television Situation Comedy with Live Studio Audience”

Randolph Jordan, SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY, “Hearing the Cinematic City: Location Film Sound and Soundscape Research in Acoustic Ecology”

“The Sound of Rockumentary: Location Recording and Documentary Sound Practice”


L11. Archeologies of Intermediality in Prewar Japanese Cinema


Keiko Sasagawa, KANSAI UNIVERSITY, “Silent Films with Popular Music: The Intermediality of Kouta Films, 1896–1929”

Michael Raine, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO, “A Revolution in Film Accompaniment: Record Playback Systems in Japanese Silent Cinemas”

Chie Niita, WASEDA UNIVERSITY, “Japanese Cinema and the Radio”

Johan Nordström, WASEDA UNIVERSITY, “Songs that Bind: Connections between the Early Japanese Sound Cinema and the Record Industry”


L14. Genre Studies: Variations on the Musical


Paulina Suarez, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “Stage, Backstage, Everyday Life: Scenes of Transition in the Cabaret Picture”

Sean Griffin, SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY, “‘And Then I Wrote . . .’: Enshrining the American Songbook in the Postwar Musical Biopic”

Amanda McQueen, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “Songs and Shadows: The Question of the Classical Film Noir Musical, 1941–1958”

Frances Smith, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK, “‘(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life’: The Afterlife of Dirty Dancing (Ardolino, 1987) in the Contemporary Romantic Comedy”


L16. Workshop on Graduate Education in Film and Media Studies

Chair: Masha Salazkina, CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY








J9. Anastasia Saverino, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “Liveness Ever After: Popular Music and the Aesthetics of Referentiality”

J14. Richard McCulloch, UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA, “‘When Camp Goes Mainstream?’: Eurovision Audiences, Ironic Appreciation, and the Production of Comedy”

L5. Martha Shearer, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, “‘Don’t You Realize a Big City Like this Changes All the Time?’: The Hollywood Musical and the Rise of Cold War New York”


Special Events Friday Evening

4:15 – 5:30 pm

Awards Ceremony

Grand Ballroom, Lobby Level

Noise Canceling Tunnel at the Illinois Institute for Technology, image by Flickr User Zol87

Noise Canceling Tunnel at the Illinois Institute for Technology, image by Flickr User Zol87


Session M 9:00 – 10:45 a.m.

M6. “Hot‐Jazz in Stone”: 
The Urban Landscapes and Soundscapes of Film Noir


Michael Dwyer, ARCADIA UNIVERSITY, “It Takes the Village: The Neighborhood outside Hitchcock’s Rear Window”

Jans Wager, UTAH VALLEY UNIVERSITY, “From Paris to Ishpeming: Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and the Landscape of Noir”

Richard Ness, WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY, “Killer Riffs: Music as Cultural Identifier in Contemporary Neo‐Noir”

Michele Schreiber, EMORY UNIVERSITY, “David Fincher1s San Francisco as Neo‐Noirscape”


M17.  Workshop on Strategies for the Academic Job Market

Chair: Ashley Elaine, York UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA






M23. Workshop
 on Critical Approaches to Studying the Radio Industries








Session N 11:00 – 12:45 p.m.

N1. Networked Media

Chair: Patrick Jagoda, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

Doron Galili, OBERLIN COLLEGE, “Networked Media Fantasies and the Project of Networking the World”

Max Dawson, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “‘It’s the Network!’: Broadcasting, Cellular, and the Politics of Networks”

Patrick Jagoda, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “Between: Network Aesthetics and Networked Games”

Respondent: Wendy Chun, BROWN UNIVERSITY


N4. Radio in Transition, Past and Present


Kyle Barnett, BELLARMINE UNIVERSITY, “Rethinking Radio’s Rise through the Phonograph’s Fall”

Cynthia Meyers, COLLEGE OF MOUNT SAINT VINCENT, “Radio with Pictures: How the Ad Industry in the 1940s Debated the Transition from Radio to TV”

Andrew Bottomley, UNIVERSITY OF
WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “The Liveness of Internet Radio: Streaming, Sociability, and the Experience of Radio in the Convergence Era”


Session O 1:00 – 2:45 p.m.

O15. The Actor’s Voice


Kelly Kirshtner, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MILWAUKEE, “Actor/Microphone: Acoustic Presence in Sound Collection Practices”

Yiman Wang, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ, “Speaking in a ‘Forked Tongue’: Anna May Wong’s Linguistic Cosmopolitanism”

Katherine Kinney, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE, “The Resonance of Brando’s Voice”

Katherine Fusco, UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO, “Voices from Beyond the Grave: Virtual Tupac’s Live Performance at Coachella”


O23. Workshop on
Cinema and Media Studies in Higher Education: Perspectives from Administrators









Session P 3:00 – 4:45 p.m.

P11. Cinema Sound, Music, and Voice


Babak Tabarraee,  UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA “A Pragmatic Approach to the Metaphor of Silence in the Oeuvre of Abbas Kiarostami”

Paula Musegades, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY, “I Don’t Think We’re in the Nineteenth Century Anymore: Copland’s Establishment of Atmosphere in Golden Age Hollywood Films”

Nilo Couret, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, “The City Listened: Ethnography, Vernacular Speech, and Niní Marshall’s Vocal Stardom”

Kate McQuiston, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII, MANOA, “Germanic Yearnings and Musical Dreams: Rehearing Stanley Kubrick”


P12. Remixing Hip-Hop Film and Visual Culture

Chair: Michele Prettyman‐Beverly, MIDDLE GEORGIA COLLEGE

Lauren Cramer, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, “‘What Does Keepin’ It Real Look Like?’: Examining the Visual Language of Hip‐Hop Album Covers”

Charles Linscott, OHIO UNIVERSITY, “DJ Spooky’s Hip‐Hop Time Machine”

Michele Prettyman‐Beverly, MIDDLE GEORGIA COLLEGE, “Beautiful, Dark, and Twisted: Kanye West, Genius, and Madness in Hip‐Hop Film and Visual Culture”


P18. Economies of Media Industries


Josh Shepperd, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “The Emergence of the Non‐Monetary Economy of Public Broadcasting at the Allerton House Seminars, 1949–1950”

Colin Burnett, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, “Rethinking the Culture‐Style Conundrum in Film Studies: Marketplace, Language, Artistry”

James Lastra, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “The Economies of Modern Sound Design”

Douglas Gomery, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND/LIBRARY OF AMERICAN BROADCASTING, “Economies of Scale in Mass Media: The Case of Radio Broadcasting”


Session Q 5:00 – 6:45 p.m.

Q11. Japanese Celebrity Cultures

Chair: Colleen Laird, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

Junji Yoshida, OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY, “The Works of Samurai Legend in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Restoring the Voice of Silent Humor in Horo Zanmai”

Kyoko Omori, HAMILTON COLLEGE, “In Occupied Japan, A Radio Star is Born: The Role of the Allied Powers in the Creation of an Anti‐governmental Political Satire Program”

Colleen Laird, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, “AKB48’s Tears of Surprise: Teen Idol as Fetish and the Consumption of Star Image”

Forrest Greenwood, THE COLLEGE OF ST. SCHOLASTICA, “A Spectral Pop Star Takes the Stage: Hatsune Miku and the Materialization of the Ephemeral in Contemporary Otaku Culture”


Q18. Channeling Stereo Histories The Shaping of Innovation in Film and Television Sound


Helen Hanson, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER, “Invention, Innovation, and Compromise: The Shaping of Multi‐Channel and Multi‐Speaker Film Sound in Hollywood’s Studio Era”

Jay Beck,  CARLETON COLLEGE, “Theorizing Stereo: The Growth, Decline, and Rebirth of Multi‐Channel Film Sound”

Katherine Quanz, WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY, “Canadian Films’ Slow Transition to Multi‐Channel Sound”

James Lyons, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER, “‘You Don’t Need Stereo TV for Laverne and Shirley’: The Development of American Stereo TV Broadcasting



M15. Paul Reinsch, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY, “Song(s) of the South: Country Music in/and Exploitation Cinema”

M16. Terri Francis, YALE UNIVERSITY, “Baker’s Burlesque: The Ironies and Erotics of Josephine Baker’s Celebrity”

M21. Jennifer Porst, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, “The Sound Track Ban: The American Federation
of Musicians’ Role in Excluding Feature Films from Television before 1955”

P13. Kristen Galvin, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE, “Jem: Girlhood, MTV, and Technological Transformation in the 1980s”

P19, Olufunmilayo Arewa, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA,
 IRVINE ,“Making Music: Copyright Law and Creative Processes”

O6. Akil Houston, OHIO UNIVERSITY, “Unrequited Love: Hip‐Hop Culture and 1970s Black Cinema”

O14. Bill Kirkpatrick, DENISON UNIVERSITY, “Voices Made for Print: Disabled Voices on the Radio”

O17. Barbara Klinger, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, “From Theaters to the Airwaves: Classic Hollywood Films and Transmedia in the 1940s”

Q9. Isabel Huacuja Alonso, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, “Censoring Film Music in All‐India Radio and the Case of a Failed Auditory Utopia”

Q15. Assem Nasr, INDIANA UNIVERSITY–PURDUE UNIVERSITY, FORT WAYNE, “Reliable Sources: Oral Cultures and News Media in Lebanon”

Q22. Sarah Kessler, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE, “I’m Your Puppet: Nina Conti’s Her Master’s Voice”


Special Events Saturday Evening

8:00 – 11:00 pm

SCMS Screen Test

Live the Warholian Experience at a Multiple‐Projection Event

Featuring “Screen Tests” of attendees shot by legendary Chicago filmmaker Judy Hoffman

Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago, 400 s. Peoria Street


8:00 pm

With a Voice Like the Lake

New Experimental Media Work from Chicago

The Nightingale Theater, 1084 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Signs designating public performance areas, downtown Chicago, Image by Flickr User romanaklee

Signs designating public performance areas, downtown Chicago, Image by Flickr User romanaklee



Session R 9:00 – 10:45 a.m.

RI. Meaning and Multiplicity in Game Environments

Chair: Nina Huntemann, SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY

Lyn Goeringer, OBERLIN CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC, “Beyond Guitar Hero: Sound Shapes, Sonic Inclusivity and Peer‐to‐Peer Musical Experience”

Ian Peters, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, Batarangs, and Dark Lords of the Sith
in Miniature: Videogame Feelies, Diegesis, and the Tangible Gaming Experience”

Benjamin Aslinger, BENTLEY UNIVERSITY, “Unlocking Kurt: Celebrity Likenesses and Ludic Music”

Nina Huntemann, SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY, “Foul Play v. Fair Use: Likeness Licensing Litigation in Sports Video Games”


R20. Rethinking Technologies of Audiovision


Jonathan Crylen, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Ciné: Humpback Whale Recordings and Film Sound”

Hannah Frank, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “Beyond Mickey‐Mousing: American Animated Cartoons Learn to Talk, 1926–1933”


Respondent: Steve Wurtzler, COLBY COLLEGE


* Meeting of the Radio Studies Scholarly Interest Group*

The Club International Room, Lobby Level



R5. Kate Newbold, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “Sounding TV History: Boundaries of the Archive, Memory, and Personal Media Histories in the Case of Phil Gries’s Archival Television Audio”

R12. Mika Turim‐Nygren, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO, “Tevye: Language, Sound, and the Resonance of Ritual in the Late Yiddish Cinema”

R19. Christopher Cwynar, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN‐MADISON, “In a Town This Size: The Vinyl Café, the CBC, and the Nostalgic Mythos of Small‐Town Canada”

S1. Theodora Trimble, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, “When All Boys Become Men: Russian Pop Music and the Global Ethnographic Idiom”

S4. Mark Lynn Anderson, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, “Roads to Ruin; or, the Woman’s Voice in Late Silent Cinema”

S11. Sushmita Banerji, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, “Band‐Baaja in the Background: Manmohan Desai’s Music”

Chicago Blues Festival, 2008, Image by Flickr User Janet and Phil

Chicago Blues Festival, 2008, Image by Flickr User Janet and Phil

Interested in checking out the last few years of “Sound at the SCMS”?  Peep  the following links:

“Sound at SCMS 2012,” 26 March 2012

“Sound at SCMS 2011,” 28 February 2011

Sound as Art as Anti-environment


When I performed at the 2012 Computers and Writing Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, I looked around during my fairly abstract 10-minute long improvisation  featuring feedback loops, glitches, silences, and circuit-bent instruments, and I noticed the audience’s sometimes visible restlessness, discomfort, and even anxiety.  This is a fairly common occurrence when I perform experimental sound art, particularly in contexts in which audiences expect “music” (you can hear my work at 38:30 in the video below).  However, for an experimental sound artist to take offense to such reactions is, in my estimation, missing the point of the exercise. That sound art disrupts, agitates, and even offends is a powerfully reaffirming reminder that sound art transcends music and sound; it is a method of revelation, an act that surpasses logical communication, instead challenging the very nature of sound and perception.


As an artist, scholar, and fan, I am drawn toward sound and music that lures me into a new world, an unfamiliar way of being and knowing. Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, I learn  that the rules of my world no longer apply.  This happened when I heard J Dilla’s Donuts album, and when I heard Madlib’s Medicine Show #3: Beat Konducta in Africa, when I heard Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. An artist that continually draws me down the rabbit hole is Walter Gross, an experimental sound/beat artist out of Los Angeles. His work changes the way I usually interact with sonic art, both in terms of his sound and in his approach to physical collage and handcrafted cassette packaging,   Gross departs from the comfortable and familiar listening imparted by polished hi-fi 3-minute tracks with definitive beginnings and ends and discernible melodies. Gross instead propels listeners into very unusual (and pleasantly discomforting) soundscapes that demand attention. Almost counter-intuitively,  Gross’s  visual representations of his work intensify that experience. Consider his 2010 work, Dopamine:


Dopamine is likely a challenging piece for audiences, at least in terms of violating the dominant structures of music. The piece opens with disorienting use of panning, deliberately obscuring degraded audio, largely indiscernible movements and patterns, and so on. His video work likewise presents a fitting yet relatively unusual juxtaposition of youth and destruction, celebration and danger. In terms of both sound and sight, Gross’ work disrupts dominant musical sensibilities, challenging the very patterns and structures within which we can express ideas. He violates tradition, shakes off the canonical baggage carried by prevailing paradigms of Art and Music, and plunges audiences into unfamiliar sensory experiences that require metacognition, reflection, and examination of what sonic art is, and more importantly, what sonic art can be. Gross, in other words, seems to transcend the musician moniker and reach something else entirely. In what follows, I’d like to explore a (very brief) history of such artists, and begin to think about how to frame sonic art as immersion in what Marshall McLuhan called anti-environments: the unconscious environment as raised to conscious attention.

Sound as Art

There exists a strong tradition of experimental noise and sound art, particularly in 20th-century Western avant-garde movements. Futurists were arguably the first to consider noise as music in the European tradition, and were certainly influential in asking artists and audiences to become more aware of the changing social and sonic surroundings . In his 1913 manifesto-of-sorts titled “The Art of Noises,” Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo proposed an orchestral configuration that more aptly represented the range of sounds available to contemporary listeners, namely those sounds that accompanied industrialization and urbanization. The sounds of the Futurist orchestra would include “rumbles, roars, explosions, and crashes.”  Russolo built devices called intonarumori to mechanically achieve and manipulate these sounds. His brother, Antonio Russolo, also enacted this new philosophy of modern found sound and composed Corale and Serenata.

Luigi Russolo and Ugo Piatti with the Intonarumori, 1913

Any inquiry of art as anti-environment would be incomplete without a discussion of the great anti-art movement, Dada. Like the Futurists before them, Dadaists used found sound and technology-as-art to violently disrupt conventions of art, beauty, and authorship within the white avant-garde community. Marcel Duchamp’s famous work, “Fountain,” is likely the most familiar Dadaist artifact to contemporary readers, yet the sound poetry of Kurt Schwitters and other Dadaist and Dada-inspired sound pieces such as Erwin Schulhoff’s 1922 work In Futurum (the middle movement of which contains only a rest and the notation “with feeling,” an undoubtable precursor to John Cage’s 4’33”, written 30 years later) created sonic spaces of innovation and strangeness that changed the way audiences listened to both voices and silences. The Russian Cubo-Futurists, especially zaumniks such as Alexei Kruchenykh, made similar ventures into anti-environments. Kruchenykh developed the sound art zaum, which he understood as a transrational language that undercut existing language systems in which the “word [had] been shackled…by its subordination to rational thought” (70). Zaum was a sort of linguistic anti-environment, one rooted in the notion that meaning resided first and foremost in the sound of a word rather than the denotative symbol system that emerged alongside the proliferation of print/visual culture. One could also not underemphasize the work of John Cage, from his prepared piano to his work with organic instruments.

John Cage and His “Prepared Piano,” Image courtesy of Flickr User William Cromar

The list of artists, genres, and movements engaged to some extent in the enterprise of anti-environment architecture could go on and be debated indefinitely: Free Jazz, Turntablism/Nu Jazz, Experimental Hip-Hop,Fluxus, Circuit Bending, Prepared Guitar, ProtoPunk, Punk, Post-Punk, New Wave, No Wave. . . in all of these diverse movements, the sonic artists share the tendency to create strange new worlds via sound; worlds that reveal social and technological environments that most people seem unaware of in the moment. This is why media theorist Marshall McLuhan called the artist “indispensible,” because the artist can tell us something about ourselves that we cannot know via ordinary means of perception. Sonic artists expose audiences to auditory phenomena, structures, juxtapositions, etc. that are to various extents hidden, obscured, or ignored as “noise.” The sonic artist is more than just a clever selector and (re)arranger of sound; s/he is a revelatory agent, exposing what is inaudible.

Art as Anti-environment

Anti-environments, however we might define and classify them, are vital not only to artistic communities themselves, but they are also vital to a society of fish in water. In his 1968 text, War and Peace in the Global Village, McLuhan asserts (among other things) that humans remain largely unaware of their new environments, likening them to fish in water: “one thing about which fish know exactly nothing is water, since they have no anti-environment which would enable them to perceive the element they live in” (175). In other words, humans seldom possess or practice a sense of awareness regarding their surroundings because there’s nothing against which surroundings may be contrasted. The “water” to McLuhan represented the various environments (physical, psychological, cultural) shaped by technological innovation, but we can—and should—extend the water metaphor to a range of hegemonic frameworks: constructions of gender, race, ability, and so on.

This essay is certainly not an attempt to generate some sort of evaluative rubric by which to judge artistic or sonic expression objectively. Rather, we might use the concept of anti-environments as a way to frame our subjective experiences and encounters with all sound, and begin listening to unfamiliar sounds as psychedelic (from Greek psyche- “mind” + deloun “reveal”) keys to illuminate the patterns and structures in which listeners exist. We must work to understand our environments and our place in them; if we are to engage critically with our culture, we must first understand existing (yet invisible) patterns and structures that surround us. And we are aided in this effort, in great part, by humanity’s great seekers of pattern recognition, the sonic-psychonautical messengers: the sonic artists.

Sound Artist Performing at Circuit Bending Workshop in Dayton, Ohio in 2009, Image Courtesy of Flickr User Vistavision

To return to the sound that inspired this meditation, Walter Gross (among others) is in many ways participating in and propelling the discourse of Leary and McLuhan, Schwitters and Schulhoff, Kruchenykh and Cage,Davis and Sun Ra, Madlib and J Dilla. Gross performs the sonic anti-environment, enacts the revelation of obscured sonic paradigms. For me, Gross can act as a sort of lens through which ordinary sonic patterns and structures become visible. I hear Flying Lotus, Bob Dylan, and The Minutemen differently after Gross. I hear my office, my home, my family’s voices differently after Gross. I hear patterns that weren’t audible before. After Gross, I become aware of how I am continuously trained to expect certain things from the sonic world: compartmentalized units of meaning, clearly stated origins of utterances, linear narratives, repeated/repeatable melodies, and so on.

Likewise, my own sonic art/scholarship approaches the use of sound to reveal the inaudible assumptions present in Western frameworks surrounding sonic production. I will conclude with an illustration of my own work and why sonic anti-environments are so central to my philosophy and method. One of my sonic works, “Toward an Object-Oriented Sonic Phenomenology,” was recently part of an exhibition titled Not For Human Consumption, curated by Julian Weaver of CRISAP in London. I recorded the sounds of a high mast lighting pole using contact microphones. Contact microphones do not “hear” like humans typically hear. Typical (dominant) notions of human hearing (and therefore of sound itself) involve the reception and interpretation of vibrations present in air. Contact microphones instead only interpret the vibrations in solid objects.

By listening through an object–through alien “ears,” so to speak– we can begin to critique the ways that we privilege listening via air, a listening that places humans at the center of the universe. We can consider the ways that sound has very real effects on humans with atypical hearing abilities and nonhuman objects. It is difficult to have such conversations if we never explore sonic anti-environments, if we never break through dominant epistemological models, if we never expose the limits of our own environments.

Featured Image: Beatrix*JAR in Dayton, Ohio, September 9, 2009, by Flickr User Vista Vision

Steven Hammer is a Ph.D. candidate in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND, USA. His research deals with various aspects of sonic art, from exploring glitch and proto-glitch practices and theories (e.g., circuit bending), to understanding and producing sound from an object-oriented ontology (e.g., contact microphones). He also researches and facilitates trans-Atlantic translation collaborations between American, European, and African universities. He has multimedia publications with Enculturation, Sensory Studies, as well as forthcoming book chapters with Wiley/IEEE press, and IGI Global Publishing, and has performed creative and academic work at several conferences across North America, including the national Computers and Writing Conference and the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication. He performs experimental circuit-bent and sampler-based music under the moniker “patchbaydoor,” and has constructed and documented a number of hardware modification projects for his own artistic projects and for other artists in the upper Midwest United States. You can read/hear more


Sound at ASA 2012

ASA Caucus Flyer

This year, #ASA2012 is being held in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Puerto Rico Convention Center from November 15-18.  San Juan provides a historic opportunity for the interdisciplinary scholars working under the banner of “American Studies” to ponder the theme, “Dimensions of Empire and Resistance: Past, Present, and Future,” from a site that has been an “unincorporated territory” of the United States since it was seized from Spain (its former imperial occupiers) after the Spanish American War in 1898.  According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Insular Cases an “unincorporated territory” is “a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States.” Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917, despite not having voting representatives in Washington D.C. and being unable to vote in mainland presidential elections.  Just a few days ago, Puerto Ricans voted on yet another referendum to become a state—there have been 3 such votes, one in 1967, 1993, and 1998, but this is the first where statehood won a majority of the votes—an issue that both U.S. presidential candidates were all but silent on in their recent campaigns.  This vote suggests a sea change in Puerto Rican-U.S. relations–what an exciting time to hold ASA in San Juan!–and I’d also like to think this particular meeting portends an exciting shift in sound studies as well.

For one thing, sound studies scholars in particular will be discussing power and imperialism loudly and clearly at this meeting. Sounding Out!’s Managing Editor, Liana Silva, will be participating in a roundtable at 8:00 a.m Sunday morning entitled “Doing Disciplinarity: Puerto Rican Studies is/as/with American Studies” where she, along with Marta S. Rivera Monclova (Framingham State College), Leonardo L. Flores Feliciano (University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez), and Sara Poggio (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) will discuss the fraught relationship between the two fields of study, particularly in relation to America’s imperial history.

And then, the fully signed-sealed-and delivered ASA Sound Studies Caucus hosts two official panels that explicitly consider the politics of sound and listening.  The first is on on Friday from 4:00-5:45: Resisting Silences: Re-sounding Race, Gender, and Empire” chaired by Sherrie Tucker (University of Kansas) and featuring the research of Marci McMahon (University of Texas, Pan American), Genevieve Yue (University of Southern California and yours truly, Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman (SUNY Binghamton); and the second on Saturday from 4:00-5:45: “Sound and the State: The Politics of Acoustic Power” chaired by Jonathan Sterne (McGill University) and featuring the research of David Suisman (University of Delaware) and Peter Tschirhart (University of Virginia) with a comment by Mara Mills (New York University).   From the racial dynamics of postwar New York City’s noise laws to “Noise Exposure Maps,” Sonic Booms to the technics of female silence, ASA’s sound studies scholars continue the sociopolitical interventions of last year’s “Sound Clash: Listening to America Studies” special issue of American Quarterly.  This issue, edited by Josh Kun and Kara Keeling, explicitly focused on issues of race, gender, class sexuality, and nation (by the way, if you misplaced your copy, Johns Hopkins press has just released the issue in book volume form).

The Sound Studies Caucus also continues its very important organizational role this year by bringing scholars together for its second annual Sound Studies Caucus Meet-and-Greet, which will be co-hosted by none other than Sounding Out! !!! We have been thrilled to work with co-organizers Inés Casillas (UCSB), Roshanak Kheshti (UCSD) and Deb Vargas (UCR) to plan a get together at the District Bar of the nearby Sheraton (200 Convention Way, 787-993-3500, Map) where we will solicit volunteers and chat about the activities of the caucus this year and next.  Sounding Out! will be officially welcoming the members of its new advisory board at the meet-and-greet, as well as sharing details about current and future Calls for Posts, and pumping up the crowd for what’s ahead in the blog for 2013.  If you are in San Juan for the conference, please join us!

“Grupo Mania and My Puerto Rican Flag,” by Flickr User Photo Prodigy

Overall, while sound studies work is somewhat lighter than in years past—a trend I also noted at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies meeting earlier this year—the research on sound, listening, and aurality at this year’s #ASA2012 is, more than ever before, focused on questions of race, gender, and sexuality in ways that, as Keeling and Kun stated in their introduction to Sound Clash: “can enable an interdisciplinary American studies in which knowledges and insights that have not been perceptible to our dominant intellectual paradigms might be heard or heard anew” (453).  I am particularly enthused about what promises to be excellent new research in African American Studies—especially the panels “Ask Your Mama: The Sound(ed) Poetics and Politics of Black Feminist Internationalism” (Saturday, 12:00-1:45) andBlackness and the Sacred Performative” (Thursday 4:00-5:45, featuring SO! writer Ashon Crawley [Duke]—and Chican@/Latino Studies—notably roundtables on The Talking Cure for Empire? Oral History and Testimonio in the Twenty-first Century” (Friday, 10:00-11:45) and “Subjectivity and Sound: Rethinking Genre in Chicano/a Music” (Friday, 2:00-3:45).  There are also multiple panels that elicit transnational conversations about audio culture—Resisting Silences: Re-sounding Race, Gender, and Empire” (Friday 4:00-5:45) and “Jazz and the Voices of Empire and Resistance” in particular (Saturday, 10:00-11:45)—and enable transmedia comparisons—especially “Terrains of Modernity, Aural Research, and Critique” (Sunday, 2:00-3:45).

Whereas the downturn in sound studies work at SCMS 2012 was due primarily to a scheduling snafu—doublebooked with the 2012 EMP—I think the ASA’s is perhaps due to the beginnings of a sea change (a new wave?)  in sound studies.  It is certainly not attributable to a lack of interest or scholarship—the emails I get for Sounding Out! alone can attest to growing numbers of truly enthusiastic scholars working on sound and listening—therefore, I put forth that sound studies is entering a moment of reflection. It is no longer enough to breathlessly sound out new sonic terrain; we are moving beyond the period when sound alone could be the binding theme in a conference panel.  The work is getting more nuanced, robust sub-fields are developing—voice studies, for example—vocabularies are becoming shared, and more than ever, scholars are engaging with each other’s work on a deeper level, complicating and texturing the just-established histories, narratives, and canons of the field. Whereas Michele Hilmes’s foundational 2005 review essay in American Quarterly “Is there a Thing Called Sound Culture Studies? And Does it Matter?” noted that “various venues of academic work on sound phenomena so rarely speak to or take heed of each other” (252), I noted no fewer than twelve sound-related roundtables at #ASA2012 where scholars will be doing the difficult-but-rewarding work of acknowledging conflicts, hashing out shared interests, and forging what comes next.  Please take good notes, sound studies folks, because ASA has enacted an official ban on recording:

The papers and commentaries presented during this meeting are intended solely for the hearing of those present and should not be tape-recorded, copied, or otherwise reproduced without the consent of the authors. Recording, copying, or reproducing a paper/presentation without the consent of the author(s) may be a violation of common law copyright and may result in legal difficulties for the person recording, copying, or reproducing (ASA Program PDF, 17).

Unfortunately, this means that the 2012 sound roundtables will be one-time-only, be-there-or-be-square affairs.  But as we know from so much research in our vibrant field, even while the vocal grains and tones will fade away into the air of San Juan, these unscripted scholarly performances can’t help but have lasting reverberations.

The Liner Notes for the ASA Sound Studies Caucus “Cassette” Flyer.  This and Featured Image by Frank Bridges,

Scroll down for the sound-related conference listings.  For the virtual experience, look for my live tweets via our Facebook and Twitter pages, Liana Silva’s live tweets (@literarychica) or on the official ASA backchannel: #ASA2012. Please comment to let SO! know what you think–both before and after ASA 2012.  Finally, If I somehow missed you or your panel in this round up, please let me know!:

Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman is co-founder, Editor-in-Chief and Guest Posts Editor for Sounding Out! She is also Assistant Professor of English at Binghamton University and a former Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University (2011-2012).

Jump to THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2012
Jump to FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2012
Jump to SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2012
Jump to SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2012

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THURSDAY, November 15, 2012

10:00 am – 11:45 am


007. Crimson and Clover: Hope and Dread in the Musical Countercultures of the 1960s

 Puerto Rico Convention Center 102C

CHAIR:  Eric Avila, University of California, Los Angeles (CA)

PAPERS: Rachel Rubin, University of Massachusetts, Boston (MA), “I Think That Maybe I’m Dreaming: Music, Counterculture, and the Renaissance Pleasure Faire”

Andrew Green Hannon, Yale University (CT), “Huey Digs Bob Dylan: The Black Panthers, Highway 61 Revisited, and Making Revolutionary Meaning”

Jeffrey Melnick, University of Massachusetts, Boston (MA), “The Ballad of Terry Melcher: Famous and Rising Sons in the LA Counterculture”

Will Spires, Santa Rosa Junior College (CA), “The Musical Holdouts of Colby Street: Formation and Legacy of an Old Time Music Community”

COMMENT:  Eric Avila, University of California, Los Angeles (CA)


Shane Vogel, Indiana University–Bloomington (IN), “Being a Fad: Black Performance and the Calypso Craze,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 104A


12:00 pm – 1:45 pm

031. Invisible Structures and the Experience of Music

 Puerto Rico Convention Center 103B

 CHAIR:  Lisa Brawley, Vassar College (NY)

PAPERS: Carlo Rotella, Boston College (MA), “The Home of the Blues”

Eric Weisbard, University of Alabama, Birmingham (AL), “Structuring the Eclectic: Radio and Entertainment Formats (Not Genres)”

 Hua Hsu, Vassar College (NY), “Sounds of Confusion: H. T. Tsiang and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Protest Music”

COMMENT:  Lisa Brawley, Vassar College (NY)


 037. Blogging as Public Pedagogy: A Roundtable with GayProf, Historiann, Roxie, and Tenured Radical

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202B

CHAIR:  Martha Nell Smith, University of Maryland, College Park (MD)

PANELISTS:  Marilee Lindemann, University of Maryland, College Park (MD)

Ann Little, Colorado State University (CO)

 Anthony Mora, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI)

Claire Bond Potter, New School University (NY)

Martha Nell Smith, University of Maryland, College Park (MD)



Jack Hamilton, Harvard University (MA), “House Burning Down: Jimi Hendrix, Race, and the Limits of Sixties Music,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 104A

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, University of Pennsylvania (PA), “Feeling Colors and Seeing Speech: Black Women’s Choreopoetic Diasporas of Difference,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 209C


2:00 pm – 3:45 pm


Nadja Millner-Larsen, “Black Synaesthesia: The Anarcho-Aesthetics of Black Mask,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 104B

Mary Beltrán, University of Texas, Austin (TX), “Blacking Up for Laughs: Televisual Blackface and ‘Post-Racial’ Cultural Memory,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 208B


 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm

 077. Blackness and the Sacred Performative

 Puerto Rico Convention Center 104A

CHAIR:  Michelle D. Commander, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (TN)

PAPERS: Amey Victoria Adkins, Duke University (NC), “‘Ain’t I A Woman’: Black Madonnas, Mammys, and the Performative Aesthetics of Darkness”

 Ashon Crawley, Duke University (NC), “Breathing Towards Lynching Critique: Whooping in Black Pentecostal Praying and Preaching”

 Terrion L. Williamson, Michigan State University (MI), “Black Sacred Dance and the Reverberations of Christian Sexuality”

COMMENT:  Johari Jabir, University of Illinois, Chicago (IL)



Molly McGlennen, Vassar College (NY), “Re-imagining “Domestic Dependency”: The Transnational Motivations of Rebecca Belmore’s Sound Performances,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 209C



Memorial to Salsa Composer Catalino (Tite) Curet Alonso (1926-2003) in the Plaza de Armas, Image by Flickr User roger4336

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8:00 am – 9:45 am

 105. Mixtape Logics: Listening to Empire and Resistance

Puerto Rico Convention Center 104B

CHAIR: Matthew Carrillo-Vincent, University of Southern California (CA)

PANELISTS: Priya Jha, University of Redlands (CA)

Van Truong, Yale University (CT)

Chris Nielsen, University of Pittsburgh (PA)

COMMENT: Joshua Guild, Princeton University (NJ)


108. Caucus: Digital Humanities: What Can the Digital Humanities Bring to American Studies, and Vice Versa?

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202A

CHAIR: Susan Garfinkel, Library of Congress (DC)

PANELISTS: Natalia Cecire, Yale University (CT)

Alex Gil, University of Virginia (VA)

Matthew K. Gold, City University of New York, Graduate School (NY)

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Modern Language Association (NY)

Lauren Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)

Miriam Posner, University of California, Los Angeles (CA)


117. Performance as Power and Critique: Social Change in African Diasporic Performance

Puerto Rico Convention Center 208C

CHAIR: Jennifer Devere Brody, Stanford University (CA)

PAPERS: Tisha Brooks, Tufts University (MA) ,“Performing Power and Privilege: The Spiritual Itinerant Practice of Amanda Berry Smith”

Shanesha R. F. Brooks-Tatum, Interdenominational Theological Center (GA), “Sonic Bridges: Conversion Narratives in Diasporic Christian Hip-Hop Performance”

Tanya Saunders, Lehigh University (PA), “Global Hip Hop, Black Feminism, and the Queer of Color Critique: An Analysis of Women-Centered Arts-Based Activism in Cuba and Brazil”

Lori Lynne Brooks, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI), “It’s Empire Time!: Black Popular Performance and the Temporality of Imperialism”


10:00 am – 11:45 am

125. The Talking Cure for Empire? Oral History and Testimonio in the Twenty-first Century

Puerto Rico Convention Center 102B

CHAIR: Theresa Delgadillo, Ohio State University, Columbus (OH)

PANELISTS: Tami Albin, University of Kansas (KS)

Maylei Blackwell, University of California, Los Angeles (CA)

Thuy Vo Dang, University of California, Irvine (CA)

Theresa Delgadillo, Ohio State University, Columbus (OH)

Linda Garcia Merchant, Artist

Joseph Rodríguez, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (WI)

Sonia Saldívar-Hull, University of Texas, San Antonio (TX)

Janet Weaver, University of Iowa (IA)


127. ASA Program Committee: Dimensions of Empire and Resistance: Speculation, Futurity, New Materialisms

Puerto Rico Convention Center 103A

CHAIR: Tavia Nyong’o, New York University (NY)

PANELISTS: Jayna Brown, University of California, Riverside (CA)

Tavia Nyong’o, New York University (NY)

Dana Luciano, Georgetown University (DC)

José Esteban Muñoz, New York University (NY)


131. Caucus: Science and Technology: What is the Future of Technology in American Studies?: A Roundtable

Puerto Rico Convention Center 104C

CHAIR: Jason Weems, University of California, Riverside (CA)

PANELISTS: Carolyn de la Pena, University of California, Davis (CA)

Lisa Nakamura, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (IL)

Joshua Shannon, University of Maryland, College Park (MD)

Elena Razlogova, Concordia University (Canada)

Joel Dinerstein, Tulane University (LA)

COMMENT: Jason Weems, University of California, Riverside (CA)


133. Caucus: Digital Humanities: Digital Shorts: New Platforms of Knowledge Production and Resistance

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202A

CHAIR: A. Joan Saab, University of Rochester (NY)

PANELISTS: Susan Smulyan, Brown University (RI)

Stewart Varner, Emory University (GA)

A. Joan Saab, University of Rochester (NY)



Thomas George Sowders, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge (LA), Puerto Rico Convention Center 208C, “Martin Delany’s Sonic Transnationalism: Genres of Poetry and Sound in Blake; or, the Huts of America

 12:00 pm – 1:45 pm

146. Ask Your Mama: The Sound(ed) Poetics and Politics of Black Feminist Internationalism

Puerto Rico Convention Center 101A

CHAIR: Farah Griffin, Columbia University (NY)

PAPERS: Daphne Ann Brooks, Princeton University (NJ), “‘A Woman is a Sometime Thing’: Leontyne and Sarah’s Sonic Temporalities’

Salamishah Tillet, University of Pennsylvania (PA), “Hush and Listen: Mama Africa and Nina Simone’s Global Civil Rights Sound”

Imani Perry, Princeton University (NJ), “Sounding Like a Movement: The Advance of Miriam Makeba’s Retreat Song”

COMMENT: Farah Griffin, Columbia University (NY)

12:00 pm – 1:45 pm

168. Business Meeting of the Digital Humanities Caucus

Puerto Rico Convention Center Foyer A


2:00 pm – 3:45 pm

 182. ASA Committee on Graduate Education: Digital Dimensions of Graduate Education in American Studies (co-sponsored by the Digital Humanities Caucus and ASA Students’ Committee)

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202A

CHAIR: Robert W. Snyder, Rutgers University, Newark (NJ)

PANELISTS: Clarissa J. Ceglio, Brown University (RI)

Douglas Lambert, State University of New York, Buffalo (NY)

Sharon Leon, George Mason University (VA)

John Carlos Rowe, University of Southern California (CA)

Stephen Brier, City University of New York, Graduate School (NY)


187. Subjectivity and Sound: Rethinking Genre in Chicano/a Music

Puerto Rico Convention Center 208A

CHAIR: Tyina Steptoe, University of Washington, Seattle (WA)

PANELISTS: Anthony Macias, University of California, Riverside (CA)

Marie Miranda, University of Texas, San Antonio (TX)

Michelle Habell-Pallan, University of Washington, Seattle (WA)


Marisol Negrón, University of Massachusetts, Boston (MA) “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Fania Records, Intellectual Property Rights, and Royalties,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 104B

Isabel Porras, University of California, Davis (CA) “Hypersexual and Excessive: Carmen Miranda and Sofia Vergara and Performing Latinidad,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 203

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm

208. Caucus: Sound Studies: Resisting Silences: Re-sounding Race, Gender, and Empire

Puerto Rico Convention Center 204

CHAIR: Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas (KS)

PAPERS: Marci McMahon, University of Texas, Pan American (TX), “Tanya Saracho’s El Nogalar: Staging Soundscapes of Silence and Imperialism”

Genevieve Yue, University of Southern California (CA), “Technics of Female Silence”

Jennifer Lynn Stoever-Ackerman, State University of New York, Binghamton (NY), “‘Just Be Quiet Pu-leeze’: New York’s Black Press Fights the Postwar ‘Campaign Against Noise’

COMMENT: Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas (KS)


213. I’m a MuthaFking Monster: Alter Egos, New Media, and Black/Queer Performativity

Puerto Rico Convention Center 209B

CHAIR: Gabriel Peoples, University of Maryland, College Park (MD)

PAPERS: Treva Lindsey, University of Missouri, Columbia (MO), “I Am… Sasha Fierce: Resistive Alterity and African American Respectability Politics”

Uri McMillan, University of California, Los Angeles (CA), “Gone Campin’: The Campy Paradox of Nicki Minaj”

Kismet Nunez / Jessica Marie Johnson, University of Maryland, College Park (MD), “On Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies, Part 2 (An #AntiJemimas Imperative)”



Omi/Joni Jones, University of Texas, Austin (TX); Sharon Bridgforth, DePaul University (IL), “Conjuring Jazz”

Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, San Juan, Puerto Rico, by Flickr User Jorge Rodriquez


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 8:00 am – 9:45 am

237. Empires of Funk: U.S. Colonialism, Filipina/o Resistance, and Hip Hop

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202A

CHAIR: Victor Hugo Viesca, California State University, Los Angeles (CA)

PAPERS: Mark Villegas, University of California, Irvine (CA), “From Indios to Morenos: Exploring the Poetics and Memory of Postcolonial Racial Positioning”

Lorenzo Perillo, University of California, Los Angeles (CA), “Maganda at Malakas: Gendered Choreographies in Manila”

Roderick Labrador, University of Hawai‘i, Manoa, (HI) “Agitation Propaganda: Toward a Filipina/o Revolutionary Internationalism”

COMMENT: Brian Chung, University of Notre Dame (IN)


242. Aesthetics in the Belly of the Beast: Reading American Carceral Art

Puerto Rico Convention Center 208A

CHAIR: Doran Larson, Hamilton College (NY)

PAPERS: Alessandro Porco, State University of New York, Buffalo (NY), “The ‘And’ After Every Sentence: Hip-Hop, Incarceration, and Creativity”

Imani Kai Johnson, New York University (NY), “B-Boying Behind Bars: A Profile of Batch from The Bronx Boys Rocking Crew”

Marcella Runell Hall, New York University (NY), “Assessment Data on ‘Lyrics from Lockdown,’”

COMMENT: Doran Larson, Hamilton College (NY)



Sarah Perkins, Stanford University (CA), “‘Bound to trabble’: The Circulation of ‘Dixie,’ 1880–1910,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 201A

 Nicholas Bauch, California State University, Los Angeles (CA), “Practicing Geography Through Art Performance: Urban Interventions and the Renaissance of the Vernacular,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 209B


10:00 am – 11:45 am

263. ASA Program Committee: Dimensions of Empire and Resistance: Language Ideologies, Spanish in the U.S., and Latinidad

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202B

CHAIR: Ana Celia Zentella, University of California, San Diego (CA)

PAPERS: Lourdes Maria Torres, DePaul University (IL), “Spanish in Chicago: Dialects in Contact”

Jonathan Daniel Rosa, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (MA), “Racializing Language, Regimenting Latinidad:Latina/o Ethnolinguistic Emblems in Diasporic Perspective”

Lillian Gorman, University of Illinois, Chicago (IL). “The (New) Mexican Familia: Ethnolinguistic Contact Zones in Northern New Mexico”

COMMENT: Ana Celia Zentella, University of California, San Diego (CA)


12:00 pm – 1:45 pm

278. Black Independent Cinema Before and After Pariah

Puerto Rico Convention Center 101B

CHAIR: Kara Keeling, University of Southern California (CA)

PANELISTS: Jennifer DeClue, University of Southern California (CA)

Yvonne Welbon, Bennett College (NC)

Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, Northwestern University (IL)

Roya Z. Rastegar, University of California, Los Angeles (CA)

Kara Keeling, University of Southern California (CA)


287. West Side Story: A Roundtable Discussion

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202A

CHAIR: Julia Foulkes, New School University (NY)

PANELISTS: Julia Foulkes, New School University (NY)

Alberto Sandoval-Sánchez, Mount Holyoke College (MA)

Deborah Paredez, University of Texas, Austin (TX)

Elizabeth Wells, Mt. Allison University (Canada)

Brian Eugenio Herrera, Princeton University (NJ)



Rashida K. Braggs, Williams College (MA), “From Limited to Alternate Citizenship: How Image and Song Perform Historical Resistance in Bayou,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 208A


2:00 pm – 3:45 pm

2nd Annual Sound Studies Meet and Greet! Co-Sponsored by the ASA Sound Studies Caucus and Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog

The District Bar
200 Convention Center Boulevard, San Juan, PR 00907
Cash Bar
Appetizers! Drink Specials! VIP area!

303. Musical Movements

Puerto Rico Convention Center 102B

CHAIR: Ulrich Adelt, University of Wyoming (WY)

PAPERS: John Cline, University of Texas, Austin (TX), “Familiar Islands: The U.S., the Bahamas, and the Permeable Boundaries of ‘Folk’ Music”

Mikiko Tachi, Chiba University (Japan), “Folk Music and the Racial Imaginary in the U.S. and Japan”

Shana Goldin-Perschbacher, Stanford University (CA), “‘I need another world’: Queer Singer-Songwriters in Transnational Collaboration Post-9/11”

COMMENT: Ulrich Adelt, University of Wyoming (WY)


314. Re-thinking Red, Yellow, Black, and Chicana/o Power through Oral History

Puerto Rico Convention Center 204

CHAIR: Rhonda Williams, Case Western Reserve University(OH)

PAPERS: Lorena Oropeza, University of California, Davis (CA), “He Said, She Said, But Who’s Right?: Oral History Unlocks Anti-Colonialism in 1960s New Mexico”

May Fu, University of San Diego (CA), “Oral History and the Asian American Radical Tradition”

Elizabeth Castle, University of South Dakota (SD), “Talking Back: Native Women’s Oral Histories in the Red Power Movement”

Lauren Araiza, Denison University (OH), “Oral Histories and Multiracial Coalitions in the UFW and the Black Freedom Struggle”

COMMENT: Rhonda Williams, Case Western Reserve University, (OH)



Rachel Donaldson, Vanderbilt University (TN), “Seeking the ‘Sensual’  and the ‘Significant’: Alan Lomax in Haiti”


4:00 pm – 5:45 pm

325. Chavela Vargas, La Bamba, and Morrissey: Mapping Queer Musical Diasporas and Desires

Puerto Rico Convention Center 102A

CHAIR: Stacy Macias, University of Texas, Austin (TX)

PAPERS: J. Frank Galarte, University of Arizona (AZ), “‘Que soy muy canalla dice la gente’: The Pleasure of Queer Love, Desire, and Dolor in Chavela Vargas’ Repertoire”

Micaela Díaz-Sánchez, Mount Holyoke College (MA), “Yo también quiero bailar la bamba”: The Policing of Gender in the Chicana/o Son Jarocho Diaspora”

Melissa Hidalgo, Pitzer College (CA), “Complicated Colonial Legacies: Mapping the Queer Chicano Contours of Morrissey’s Los Angeles Fanscape in “Gay Vatos in Love”

COMMENT: Stacy Macias, University of Texas, Austin (TX)


326. Marginal Digital Knowledges: A Workshop on Technology, Transformation, and Resistance

Puerto Rico Convention Center 102B

CHAIR: Tara McPherson, University of Southern California (CA)

PANELISTS: Simone A. Browne, University of Texas, Austin (TX)

Fiona Barnett, Duke University (NC)

Amanda Phillips, University of California, Santa Barbara (CA)

Tanner Higgin, University of California, Riverside (CA)

Moya Bailey, Emory University (GA)

Alexis Lothian, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (PA)


327. Caucus: Sound Studies: Sound and the State: The Politics of Acoustic Power

Puerto Rico Convention Center 102C

CHAIR: Jonathan Sterne, McGill University (Canada)

PAPERS: David Suisman, University of Delaware (DE), “Shock Wave Politics: The Battle Over Sonic Booms”

Peter Tschirhart, University of Virginia (VA), “Part 150 ‘Noise Exposure Maps’ and the Closing of the Acoustic Commons”

COMMENT: Mara Mills, New York University (NY)


329. Between Island and Diaspora: Locating, Creating, and Performing Afro–Puerto Rican Bomba

Puerto Rico Convention Center 104A

MODERATOR: Tamara Roberts, University of California, Berkeley (CA)

This roundtable brings together bomba practitioners, cultural workers, and scholars from Puerto Rico and California. Rafael Maya and Pablo Luis Rivera will discuss their work as the founders of Proyecto Unión and Restauración Cultural. Sarazeta Ragazzi, Tamara Roberts, and Denise Solis will detail their work in the all-women’s performance ensemble Las Bomberas de la Bahia (San Francisco Bay Area). And Jade Power Sotomayor will extend the discussion of cross-cultural connections byconsidering the large Chicano participation in the form in the U.S., underscoring the ways that Latinidad and more specifically, Afro-Latinidad are corporeally articulated through this embodied practice.

Congas, Image courtesy of Flickr User Richard Alexander Caraballo


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8:00 am – 9:45 am

 365. Doing Disciplinarity: Puerto Rican Studies is/as/withAmerican Studies

Puerto Rico Convention Center 204

CHAIR: Marta S. Rivera Monclova, Framingham State College (MA)

PANELISTS: Marta S. Rivera Monclova, Framingham State College (MA)

Liana Marie Silva, State University of New York, Binghamton (NY)

Leonardo L. Flores Feliciano, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez (PR)

Sara Poggio, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (MD)



Nadia Ellis, University of California, Berkeley (CA), “Dancehall’s Urban Possessions,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 101A


10:00 am – 11:45 am

377. Jazz and the Voices of Empire and Resistance

Puerto Rico Convention Center 102A

CHAIR: John Gennari, University of Vermont (VT)

PAPERS: Daniel Stein, University of Goettingen (Germany), “Onkel Satchmo Behind the Iron Curtain: The Politics of Louis Armstrong’s Visit to East Germany”

Elliott H. Powell, New York University (NY), “Solidarity in Sound: John Coltrane, Indian Music, and Global Freedom Struggles”

Matthew B. Karush, George Mason University (VA), “Transnational Routes: Argentine Encounters with Jazz, 1959–1972”

COMMENT: John Gennari, University of Vermont (VT)



Daphne Lamothe, Smith College (MA), “Trauma, Silence, and the Language of Resistance in Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying”


12:00 pm – 1:45 pm


 Imani D. Owens, Columbia University (NY), “The Politics of Sound: Race, Space, and Cuban Identity in the Poetry of Nicolás Guillén,” Puerto Rico Convention Center 209A


2:00 pm – 3:45 pm

420. Terrains of Modernity, Aural Research, and Critique

Puerto Rico Convention Center 104C

CHAIR: Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin, Madison (WI)

PAPERS: Art Blake, Ryerson University (Canada), “John Cage’s Voice and New York’s Postwar Urban Sensorium”

Derek Vaillant, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI), “The Power of Piaf: Racial Formation and Nostalgia in Postwar U.S.-France Aural Culture”

Jason Loviglio, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (MD), “Radio Localism 2.0”

Benjamin Aslinger, Bentley College (MA), “Listening In to Web 2.0: Subjectivity, Alterity, and Power”

COMMENT: Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin, Madison (WI)


423. Los Nombres: Puerto Rican Popular Music in Lorain, Ohio

Puerto Rico Convention Center 202C

CHAIR: Petra R. Rivera-Rideau, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VA)

PANELISTS: Petra R. Rivera-Rideau, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VA)

Eugene Rivera, Jr., Independent Scholar

José Pepe Rivera, Sr., Artist



Mike Amezcua, Northwestern University (IL), “Brown Bop: Mexican American Jazzmen, Race, and the Quest for a Transnational Jazz Movement”

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Image courtesy of Ricymar Fine Art Photography

Evoking the Object: Physicality in the Digital Age of Music

wax cylinders in the Library of Congress, Image by Flickr User Photo Phiend

In our current relationship with technology, we bring our bodies, but our minds rule–Linda Stone, “Conscious Computing”

I begin with an epigraph from Linda Stone, who coined the phrase ‘continuous partial attention’ to describe our mental state in the digital age. The passive cousin of multi-tasking, continuous partial attention is a reaction to our constantly connected lifestyles in which everything is happening right now and where value is increasingly equated with our ability to digest it all.   Almost everything we do has the potential to be interrupted, be it by an email, a text or a tweet; often we will give only partial attention to any one thing in anticipation of the next thing that will require our attention.  In this internal fight for mental attention, listening to music has been seriously impacted.

The digital era has seen more music releases than ever before.  Unfortunately, the massive influx of quantity is by no means a measure of how we are engaging with said music.  iPhones and similar devices, for which music players have become mere features, enable listening to become a thing of partial attention. From allowing the shuffle or random modes to choose music selections for you, or even streaming music algorithms to calculate things you might like, to listening while playing Angry Birds or reading your Twitter stream, less commitment is made to the act of listening, and as such only a portion of our working memory is committed to the experience.  Without working memory actively processing musical information, it is less likely to be stored for the long term, particularly if other information is continuously vying for space and attention.

These days video games sell better than music.  Despite being a digital product, games are able to instill  memories (even of the music) into one’s consciousness, because the game interface allows our sensory memories to work together in an active manner with the medium.  Iconic memory stores visual cues from the game, echoic memory takes the audible cues from the game and the haptic memory is engaged in controlling game play.  There is only so much more which can be done while playing a video game.  If something were to interrupt game play, the game would be paused to address the new information rather than giving it partial attention. This is quite different from music which plays a background role in so much of our lives even when we are actively putting music on we tend to only engage it with partial attention.

When I began thinking about turning Concrète Sound System into a record label, one of my main goals was to create works that could engage the audience in active musical experiences that could create long term memories.   I felt that as important as the music would be, it would take something material to create these memories, a physical product more evocative of earlier moments in recording history than the CD, its most recent gasp. I wondered if, by creatively evoking the physical object, the listener could be engaged in an active manner that would enable the memory of music and its power to persist through the everyday waves of digital noise.

The first mass duplicated audio medium was the Gold Moulded Edison Cylinder at the turn of the twentieth century.  Imagine two cylinder copies of one of these recording today, as musical objects.  Each of them would have over a hundred years of physical history.  From the wear of the cases to the condition of the wax based on the temperature in which they were stored, each of these cylinders would be unique musical objects, with completely different histories, despite having the same origin.  It is reasonable to assume that if the cylinders were played today on the same playback device, despite the fact that the compositions and performances are exactly the same, the differences between the recordings would be audible.

Wax Cylinders in the Library of Congress preservation Lab, Image by Flickr User Photo Phiend

Even without a century of history, there would likely be audible differences between the cylinders.   If one cylinder was the first copy made, and another the 150th –master cylinders of Gold Moulded Edison Cylinders could only produce 150 copies reliably–the physical wear in the process of reproduction would leave its own imprint, making each of those copies distinct musical objects. In the analog world, as the technology improved the differences between copies decreased substantially.  Cassettes were manufactured in batches of ten to hundreds of thousands without audible differences.  But even in circulations so high, over time each of those analog copies took on their own identity and collected their own memories.

The listener as an active agent contributed to the development of these unique musical objects. After a purchase, any number of variables played into the ritual of the first experience of the music. Was there a way to listen upon walking out of the store?  Were there liner notes or lyric sheets inside?  Would you read those prior to listening or as you listen? Where would you listen?  Through headphones? The listening chair in front of the hi-fi stereo? Or on the boombox with some friends?  All of these possibilities shaped memories as musical objects that defined the music consumption culture of the past.

For example, I bought the debut 2Pac album 2Pacalypse Now on cassette the day it was released.  I loved the album so much I kept it in regular rotation in my Walkman for months until finally the tape popped.  Rather than go out and buy a new copy I decided to perform a surgery.  It was in a screwless reel case which meant I couldn’t just open it up to retrieve the ends of the tape trapped inside, but rather had to crack the reel case open and transplant the reels into a new body.  So, my copy of the 2Pacalypse Now cassette is now inside of a clear reel holder with no visual markings.  It also has a piece of tape that was used to splice it back together, which makes an audible warp when played back.  I can pretty much be sure that there is no other copy of 2Pacalypse which sounds exactly like mine.  While this probably detracts from the resale value of the cassette (not that I’d sell it), it is imbued with a personal history that is priceless.

Cassettes, in particular, played a significant role in the attachment of physical memories to music beyond the recordings they held.  They gave birth to the mixtape.  The taper community was born from personal tape recorders that allowed concert-goers to record performances they attended, and, prior to the rise of peer to peer sharing online, these communities were trading tapes internationally via regular postal mail.  European jazz and rock concerts were finding their way back to the states and South Bronx hip-hop performances were traveling with the military in Asia.  All of these instances required a physical commitment with which came memories that inherently became their own musical objects.

Needless to say the nature of musical exchange has changed with the rise of the digital age of music.  This is not to say that memories as musical objects have gone away, but they are being taken for granted as the objects lose their physicality.  I remember going to The Wiz on 96th Street with $10 to spend on music.  I spent at least ten minutes trying to decide between Sid and B-Tonn and Arabian Prince.  I ended up with Arabian Prince and have regretted it since I got home and listened that day, as I never found Sid and B-Tonn for sale again.  Today I could download both in the time it took me to walk to the train station.  After skimming through the first few songs of Arabian Prince I could decide it was not for me and drag drop it in the trash where the memory of it would disappear with the files.  No matter how I felt about the music then, the memory of it is a permanent fixture in my mind because of the physical actions it took to listen.

The first release for Concrète Sound System, Schrödinger’s Cassette, tackled this issue head on by presenting the audience with its own paradox, an update of physicist Erwin Schrödinger’s famous Thought Experiment, where the ultimate fate of the cassette inside is left up to the individual. Schrödinger’s Cassette sought to take listeners out of digital modes of consumption by using an analog medium to evoke the physical.  The cassette release trend has been growing over the last few years, almost in parallel to the rise of the digital music and speaking to the need to separate music from our digital lives and to a desire to work harder for it.  At the minimum, listening to a cassette requires having a cassette player, and acquiring one these days takes commitment.  Unlike digital media, listeners cannot instantly skip a song on a cassette or put a favorite on repeat.  It takes physical manipulation of the medium to move through its songs and doing so is a time investment.  All these limitations make the cassette a medium that is best for linear listening, from beginning to end (unless you physically cut, rearrange, and splice it yourself).

Schrödinger’s Cassette, Image Courtesy of The Wire

Schrödinger’s Cassette took the required commitment a step further by encasing the cassette itself in industrial grade concrete. This required the user to actively crack the concrete (or the french concrète meaning ‘real’, from which the label derives its name) in order to listen to the music.  The paradox is that, depending on the listener’s method for cracking, harm could be done to the cassette that might render it ‘unlistenable’.  Upon receiving one of these pieces, the listener holds in their hands a musical object which they must physically act upon in order to create an unrepeatable musical event.  Schrödinger’s Cassette has a look, a sound (if shaken you can hear the cassette reels), a feel, a smell, and a taste as well (though I wouldn’t advise it).  All of the senses can be actively focused on the object and, as such, the whole of one’s working memory is engaged in the discernment of the object’s musical contents.

The Wire breaks open Schrödinger’s Cassette courtesy of their Twitterstream

For many, Schrödinger’s Cassette was taken as a work of art and left uncracked.  The Wire magazine successfully cracked one edition open, revealing a portion of the musical contents on their regular radio program.  For those that decided not to crack it, digital versions were made available so that they could listen, though this option was only made available after the listener spent some time with their physical object.  In this way, the music from the project, a compilation called Between the Cracks, was directly connected to physical memories spurred by a material presence.

Triggering active memory during the consumption of music through physical objects need not be this complex.  Old medium such as vinyl and cassette releases inherently have the physical properties required without the concrete or much else.  Perhaps for this reason they show new signs of life despite the rise of digital.  No matter how much our reality is augmented by our digital lives, we still inhabit those bodies that we bring with us, and, as far as the memories those bodies carry with them go, physicality rules.

Featured Image: Wax Cylinders in the Library of Congress, Image by Flickr User Photo Phiend

Primus Luta is a husband and father of three.  He is a writer and an artist exploring the intersection of technology and art, and their philosophical implications.  He is a regular guest contributor to theCreate Digital Music website, and maintains his own AvantUrb site.  Luta is a regular presenter for the Rhythm Incursions Podcast series with his monthly showRIPL. As an artist, he is a founding member of the live electronic music collectiveConcrète Sound System, which spun off into a record label for the exploratory realms of sound in 2012. 

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