With a wide array of departmental affiliations and disciplinary backgrounds represented among its society membership, as well as an active and creative leadership, the annual meeting of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies is an excellent place to get a sense of where sound studies is and might be heading in the academy. To help read those tea leaves at this year’s upcoming conference in Seattle, we are thrilled to welcome one of the key figures working at the intersection of sound and media today, Denison University Communications Professor Bill Kirkpatrick.
Bill is not only a first-rate scholar — he’s at the forefront of emerging work on sound media and disability — but he’s also a producer, one of the people behind Cinema Journal‘s podcast Aca-Media, which is helping to show how sound can be not only a media studies topic, but a way of doing media studies. As one of the co-chairs of the Radio Studies Scholarly Interest Group at SCMS, Bill has also taken a leadership role in promoting the work of many other scholars, and we’re excited to hear from him on the state of the field. Here are his thoughts and a curated guide for how to make the most of the conference in the Emerald City this year.
– SCMS/ASA Editor Neil Verma
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is clearly in a boom period for sound studies. In interviews for the March episode of Aca-Media, SCMS programmers Angelo Restivo and Bruce Brasell each noted the extraordinary rise in papers on sound as one of the key trends in the field, and the 2014 schedule bears this out with nearly 150 papers related to sound, music, and radio—an average of thirty each day of the conference, which will take place in Seattle from March 19-23.
Last year, in his 2013 SCMS preview for SO!, Neil Verma sounded a little nervous that this rise in sound-related papers was somehow too good to be true: “This year may mark the point at which sound studies became – likely temporarily, and perhaps distressingly – normal.” It might be temporary, but the quantity and variety of papers on sound again this year is definitely not distressing. Even more than last year, this year’s conference goes well beyond radio, music, and soundtracks to offer papers on sound in airplanes, in museums, in video games, and on phones, as well as governmental policies connected to sound and more.
Here are some trends and highlights I noticed while going through the schedule:
- In my first read-through, I was alarmed by what appeared to be a decline in the number of radio-themed papers and panels. We know that SCMS is still establishing itself as a good place for radio studies, which the still-nascent Radio Studies Scholarly Interest Group is beginning to help, but it would have been nice to see a few more panels in this area. After my second reading of the schedule, however, it’s fairer to say that radio is holding steady, especially if we count podcasting. I hope to catch a lot of these papers, and you can’t go wrong with any of the Radio Studies SIG-sponsored panels (marked by * below). In the “something different” category, I’m particularly interested in Matt Sienkiewicz’s paper on “Radio Islam” in Afghanistan and Lana Lin’s “Psychoanalytic Reading of Upton Sinclair’s Mental Radio,” which will look at the intersections between radio and telepathy in the early social imaginary.
- Last year Neil urged sound studies to “keep it weird,” and there are definitely some papers this year that fit that bill. One of my favorites is Stephen Groening’s study of how the airplane environment affects issues of immersion and distraction, which is one of those topics I wish I’d thought of first. I also hope to catch a paper by Dimitrios Pavlounis on how silent films before 1920 used the detective dictograph as a plot device, constructing the idea of sound recording in a silent medium. Sarah Street’s “Synthetic Dreams: Color-Film-Music in the 1920s” will examine some notable sound-image experiments (including Eisenstein’s) during the 1920s. And though I don’t know anything about it but the title, Todd Decker’s presentation on “Helicopter Music” has got to be good, right?
- For a town with as storied a musical history as Seattle, the music offerings this year do little to take advantage of place (something that Neil also noted regarding last year’s conference in the even more storied city of Chicago). Nonetheless there are all kinds of cool papers on music and musicals. Given the Beatles nostalgia this year, William Gombash’s paper on the promotional films for “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” seems apropos; pair it with Jessica Fowler on “The Monkees and the Birth of New Hollywood” and a talk on Elvis Presley’s musicals by Amanda McQueen for a DIY ’60s pop-musical mini-conference. Or you could go the other direction with a panel on Wagner (H13) and several intriguing papers on opera (look for the papers by Sabine Hake, Ling Zhang, and Jennifer Fleeger).
- This is a good year for technologies of sound, from the cinematic apparatus to the architecture of listening spaces. See, for example, Meredith Ward’s paper on “Architecting Listening in the Cinema House” or Rafael Freire on “The Conversion to Sound in Brazil,” to give just two interesting examples.
- The Scholarly Interest Groups for Sound Studies and Radio Studies will each be holding business meetings with special programming. The Sound Studies SIG will meet over lunch on Friday (3/21, 12:15-2:00 in Ballard). The Radio Studies SIG will meet the next morning (3/22, 9:00-10:45 in Ballard) and will feature a talk by folks from Seattle indie rock station KEXP about radio in a streaming age.
To help you navigate these and the other offerings, I’ve provided not one but two conference guides. The first is arranged chronologically for all the sound-related panels. The second is arranged topically in four categories (Sound & Soundtracks, Music & Musicals, Radio and Podcasting, and Other: Museums, Airplanes, Phones, Video Games, and Policy). I’ve also added content notes on just a few papers where I’ve been in contact with the author and learned a bit more about the talk. I apologize in advance for the inevitable errors and omissions! [please report any flubs to SO! ASA/SCMS Special Editor Neil Verma, email@example.com, we’ll make corrections as needed]
In closing, what should we look for—or at least hope for—from SCMS in 2015? I’ll list my three biggies:
Music: The quantity of papers this year on opera and classical music in film and media, while still small, suggests that SCMS might finally be emerging as a conference for music scholars beyond pop music, and I hope this trend will continue. I can’t get into the methodological and theoretical rifts within the discipline of musicology here, but for years Norma Coates, Tim Anderson, and many others have been working to make SCMS a viable alternative to the dominant musicology conferences that, in large and small ways, are hostile to (or simply wrong for) critical-cultural music scholars, especially if their topic has a TV/film component. So let the word go out that they are welcome here! As a side note, can someone please take better advantage of the amazing history of music in Montreal next year?
Sound: Nothing to complain about here—sound is alive and well. I would like to see a few more papers on television and sound, and one could argue that the aesthetic and economic analyses of sound could be supplemented with more papers on political and social dimensions of sound. But overall sound studies seems to be in excellent shape at SCMS.
Radio: I’m not pessimistic about radio studies at SCMS, but it is also not where I had expected it to be at this point. We need to encourage more international scholars to participate, and we can hope that the Montreal venue will make it easier and more attractive for European radio scholars—of whom there are many—to apply. Thematically, there remains a troubling “donut hole” in radio scholarship that I hope more scholars will address: we have lots of work on early radio (into the 1950s), and lots of work on contemporary radio and podcasting, but that leaves a half-century gap that doesn’t receive nearly enough scholarly attention. In other words, radio studies is far from exhausted, so I hope that radio scholars and the RS SIG can make 2015 a year of growth and diversification for radio at SCMS.
* = Sponsored by the Radio Studies Scholarly Interest Group
** = Sponsored by the Sound Studies Scholarly Interest Group
Featured Image: “KEXP, Seattle” by Flickr user Curtis Cronn, CC BY-ND-ND 2.0
Bill Kirkpatrick is Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Communication Department at Denison University in Ohio. His research interests include broadcast history, media and disability, and media policy. He is currently working on an anthology on media and disability and a monograph on the intersections of radio and disability in the 1920s and ‘30s. He is also a co-producer of the film and media studies podcast Aca-Media (www.aca-media.org).
I. Chronological Index
Jump to WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2014
Jump to THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2014
Jump to FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014
Jump to SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 2014
Jump to SUNDAY, MARCH 23, 2014
I. CHRONOLOGICAL LIST
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19
Session A 10:00 – 11:45 a.m.
A4: French Auteurs: Becker, Demy, Bresson, Bunuel
Tracy Cox-Stanton, SAVANNA COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN, “Film Sound, Footsteps, and Unvoiced Desire in Bresson’s “Pickpocket” (1959) and Bunuel’s “Belle du Jour” (1967)”
A10: Knowing the Score
Kevin Donnelly, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON, “Phantom Power: Electrifying an Old Silent Film”
Ariane Lebot, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “Composing the Narrative: Bernard Herrmann’s Contribution to De Palma’s ‘Obsession’ (1976)”
Megan Alvarado Saggese, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY, “From Sound to Cinema: Dissonance and Disruption between Adorno’s Theory of Film and Kagel’s “Antithese””
Christine Sprengler, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO, “‘The Broom That Sweeps the Cobwebs Away’: Vertigo’s Soundtrack as Sound Art”
A16: Re-viewing Feminisms
Elizabeth Watkins, UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS, “Gesture and the Female Voice”
Alexander Russo, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, “Androids as the New ‘Other’: Janelle Monae’s Feminist Afrofuturism in The Metropolis Suite” (focuses on the sonic attributes of race and gender, as well as her engagement with the sounds of masculine black music of the second half of the 20th century)
Session B 12:00 – 1:45 p.m.
B6: Policy: The Law and other Gatekeepers
Birk Weiberg, ZURICH UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS, “Roy J. Pomeroy, Dunning Process Co., Inc., and Paramount Publix Corporation vs. Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., Vitaphone Corporation, and Frederick Jackman: How the Movie Industry Learned about Patents.”
B15: Promotional Culture
William Gombash, VALENCIA COLLEGE, “The Evolution of Media Convergence and Popular Music: The Promotional Films for “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”” (will include discussion of how the Beatles recorded the songs and how the evolving nature of the complexities of the production of their music mitigated against live performances)
B19: Avant-garde Aesthetic Strategies
Dustin Zemel, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Polyphony and Documentary Presentness” (explores the idea of Bakhtinian literary polyphony and it’s relationship/relevance to film, using Jonas Mekas’s The Brig as an example of how overlapping voices in the soundtrack can effectively facilitate the presentation of multiple, autonomous presences.)
Session C 2:00 – 3:45 p.m.
C6: Narrative Forms of/and American Authorship
Paul Cote, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, “Encountering Sonic Memories: Sound, Childhood, and Escapism in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.””
C8: The Spaces of Media Production and Consumption
Meredith Ward, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “Black Boxes and Rich, Repressed Sounds: Architecting Listening in the Cinema House”
C10: Listening to Films: Cinematic Sound and Media Culture in East Asia
Nicole Huang, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “Listening to Films: Radio and Communal Film Culture in 1970s China”
Kerim Yasar, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME, “Otozukuri: Affect, Ontology, and Techne in Early Japanese Radio Drama and Talkie Sound Effects”
Giorgio Biancorosso, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG, “Double Agents and The Poor Man’s Orchestra: Music and the Aesthetic of the Self in *Chunking Express* (1994)”
Ling Zhang, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “The Flowing Ambiguity of Soundscape: Female Voice-over in Spring in a Small Town and Fei Mu’s Chinese Operatic Sound Aesthetic”
Session D 4:00 – 5:45 p.m.
D4: The Globalization of Post-Millenial Persian Media
Matt Sienkiewicz, BOSTON COLLEGE, “Uncle Sam’s Koran: American Broadcasting, Koranic Values and Hybrid “Radio Islam” in Afghanistan”
D6: Objects: The Medium Is the Material
Paul Jasen, CARLETON UNIVERSITY, “Infrasound: Spectres of the Manmade Unknown”
D10: Physician, Heal Thy Selfie
Stephanie Brown, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, “‘A Waiting Room That Doesn’t Suck’: Negotiations of Agency, Authenticity, and Community in the “Mental Illness Happy Hour Podcast””
D13: New Histories of Animation
Lora Mjolsness, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE, “Sound, Synchronization, and Subversion: The Early Animation of the Brumberg Sisters”
D15: Distribution in the Digital Age
Tim Anderson, OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY, “Why Don’t We Give it Away?: Value and “Free” for an Emerging Music Industry”
Jeremy Morris, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “‘App’etite for Digitization: App-based Albums and the Virtual Commodification of Music”
THURSDAY, MARCH 20
Session E 9:00 – 10:45 a.m.
E1: Gender and Contemporary Technologies
Jacqueline Vickery, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS, “Mobile Phones, a Girl’s Best Friend?: How the Mobile Phone Industry Legitimizes Surveillance, Commodifies Talk, and Genders Technology”
*E10: Sound: Aesthetics and Ideology
Justin Morris, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, “Radio Ranch: Emergent Seriality in 1930s Film and Radio”
Paula Musegades, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY, “Silence is Golden: Aaron Copland’s Film Score for “The Heiress””
Yuki Takinami, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO, “The Issue of Sound-Cinema Aesthetics in Early-1930s Japan: Theory and Practice”
Alejandra Bronfman, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, “Screeches, Static, and Silence: The Fragmented Terrain of Caribbean Radio”
E13: Deleuzian Aesthetics
Justin Horton, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Vibration, Resonance, Deformation: Deleuze’s Soundful Aesthetics”
Alison Wielgus, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, “Watch Out! The World’s Behind You: Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the Promises of Expanded Cinema” (discusses the influence of La Monte Young and drone music on the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, and how the live performance of such music creates a new context for interpreting the Warhol films screened during the events; unfortunately Alison will not be able to attend the conference, but you can contact her for more information)
Session F 11:00 – 12:45 p.m.
F1: Reconsidering Psychoanalysis and Media Studies: Towards a Productive Intersection
Lana Lin, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “Are These Thoughts My Own?: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Upton Sinclair’s “Mental Radio””
F5: Margins of the New Wave: Japanese Cinemas of the 1960s
Michael Raine, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO, “Music, Musicals, and the Margins of the Japanese New Wave”
F16: Feminist Approaches to War Media
Debra White-Stanley, KEENE STATE COLLEGE, “Combat Medicine, Gendered Trauma, and Audio-Vision” (an interdisciplinary integration of sound studies with the idea of “women at war”)
F17: Negotiating Race in Digital Spaces
Sarah Florini, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “Networked Enclaves: Black Podcasters’ Responses to the George Zimmerman Verdict”
**F18: Documentary Sound and the Global City
Rita Safariants, VASSAR COLLEGE, “The Gig is in the Boiler Room: Filming Leningrad’s Rock-n-Roll Counterculture”
Josh Glick, YALE UNIVERSITY, “The Renegade in the Network: Joe Saltzman, CBS, and Soundtrack Innovations”
Ashish Chadha, UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND, “Sound in the City: Experimental Documentaries of Films Division in India”
Noelle Griffis, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, “Telling it Like it Is: The Camera as Voice in AFI Supported Minority Youth Films of the 1960s”
Session G 1:00 – 2:45 p.m.
**G18: Between Speech, Music, and Noise: The Voice in Recent Film and Television
John Richardson, UNIVERSITY OF TURKU, “Between Dialogue and Sound: The Voice, Audiovisual Flow, and the Aestheticizing Impulse”
Robynn Stilwell, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, “Walking and Talking and Singing and Dancing: Axes and Boundaries in the Television Soundscape”
Claudia Gorbman, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, TACOMA, “The Master’s Voice”
Mitchell Morris, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, “Fictions of the Facture: Vocal Realities in “Velvet Goldmine”
Session H 3:00 – 4:45 p.m.
H3: Negotiating Identity, Belonging, and Citizenship in Transnational Latino Communities in the US
Veronica Zavala, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA, “Alivianadas: Spanish-Language Radio Incentives”
H4: French Film Archives: New Findings, New Forms
Charlie Michael, EMORY UNIVERSITY, “The Lescure Report and the Future of French Audiovisual Policy” (an analysis of the participatory blog that the French Ministry of Culture launched to have a public discussion about audiovisual reform)
*H9: Regionalism, Accent, and Dialect at the BBC, 1930-1955
Debra Rae Cohen, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, ““There’s No Such Thing as Reet”: Reclaiming Region in Burbleton””
Ian Whittington, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI, “Regional Voice, National Crisis: J.B. Priestley as Second World War Radio Celebrity”
Emily Bloom, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Speaking Oirish: The BBC Third Programme and Irish Drama”
Damien Keane, UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO, “A Back-Window on Belfast: W.R. Rodgers’ The Return Room”
H13: Cinema & Wagner
Amy Stebbins, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “Being Richard: History, Myth, and the Biopic”
Rebekah Rutkoff, CUNY, “Towards a Complete Order: Markopoulos and Wagner”
Ken Eisenstein, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO / BUCKNELL UNIVERSITY, “‘All Things Pass Into the Night’: Music, Montage, and Wagner in Billy Wilder’s “Love in the Afternoon” (1957)”
*H15: Branded Entertainment of the Past
Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, ““The Dean of Radio Salesmen” vs. “The Huckster”: Jack Benny’s Struggle with Sponsor Lucky Strike, 1944-1948”
Cynthia Meyers, COLLEGE OF MOUNT SAINT VINCENT, “The Problems of Branded Entertainment: BBDO, Sponsors, and Blacklists on Radio and Early Television”
Lauren Bratslavsky, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, “Soft Hands and Soft Westerns: The True Stories of Death Valley Days, 1930-72”
Andrew deWaard, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, “Marty Weiser, Exploitation Agent: Product Placement, Publicity, and the Tie-Up Business in Hollywood, 1940-1980”
H19: Intermedial Modernisms: Cinema’s Expanded Horizons in the 1920s
Sarah Street, UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, “Synthetic Dreams: Color-Film-Music in the 1920s”
H25: Once More with Feeling: Audiences, Origins, and Affect in the Hollywood Musical
Desiree Garcia, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Life Upon the Wicked Stage: The Origins of the Hollywood Show Musical”
Sean Griffin, SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY, “Don’t Fence Me In: B Studio Musicals’ Appeal to Marginalized Audiences”
Caryl Flinn, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, “The Kitschy Feelings of Kitschy Musicals”
Kelly Kessler, DEPAUL UNIVERSITY, “I Dreamed a Dream of Close-Ups Gone By: “Les Misérables” and the Visual Excess of Stage-to-Screen Transfers in the FX Era”
Session I 5:00 – 6:45 p.m.
I4: Museum as Medium: Technology, Spectatorship, Space
Karine Bouchard, UNIVERSITY DE MONTREAL, “(Im)mobilized Sound: Towards Listening Experiences in the Museum Exhibition.”
**I10: Sounds of Labor: Musicians’ Employment in Hollywood’s Transition to Sound
Jennifer Fleeger, URSINUS COLLEGE, “Putting Opera to Work: Song, Stardom, and Labor in the Vitaphone Opera Shorts”
Rob King, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, ““I Want Music Everywhere”: Underscoring in the Hal Roach Studios’ Early Sound Films”
Daniel Goldmark, CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, “The Musical Roots of “The Jazz Singer””
I11: Rethinking Wong Kar-wei: New Approaches to an Established International Auteur
Angelo Restivo, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Wong Kar-wai: Sound + Image”
I19: Makes Me Feel Some Kinda Way: Television and Black Women’s Affect
Racquel Gates, COLLEGE OF STATEN ISLAND, CUNY, “The Ratchet Public Sphere: Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and Black Women’s Culture”
FRIDAY, MARCH 21
Session J 9:00 -10:45 a.m.
J1: What Is “The Symbolist Temptation?” The Aesthetics of Symbolism in Transnational Cinema
Tami Williams, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE, “A Music of Silence: Abstraction and Sensation in Belle Époque Symbolist Theater and 1920s French Art Cinema”
J3: Brazilian Cinema Revisited: Technologies, Exhibition, Reception
Rafael Freire, UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL FLUMINENSE, “The Conversion to Sound in Brazil”
*J10: Radio and Other Sounds
Hannah Spaulding, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “Eavesdropping as Entertainment: The Enormous Radio and Shut Up Little Man!”
Jack Curtis Dubowsky, ACADEMY OF ART UNIVERSITY, “The Music of Brokeback Mountain”
Ming-Yuen Ma, PITZER COLLEGE, “Noises of Protest: Sound, Race, and Violence in Christian Marclay’s Guitar Drag and Paul D. Miller’s Rebirth of a Nation”
J19: Race, Gender, and the Body in Found Footage Film
Jaimie Baron, UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, “Unintentional Singers and Racial Ventriloquism in Contemporary Found Footage Videos” (Explores how found footage (remix) videomakers are literally making their (speaking) subjects sing and how this constitutes a form of ventriloquism)
Session K 12:15-2:00 p.m.
*Meeting of the Sound Studies Scholarly Interest Group
K9: Medium and Method in “Early Television” History
Kate Newbold, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “Television Ontology and Media Methodology: Exploring Televisual Fragmentation in Phonograph, Broadcast, and Print Industries, 1926-1940”
Luke Stadel, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “Radio/Television/Sound, 1922-1941”
K18: Revisiting Kurosawa
Michael Bourdaghs, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “Hearing the Cold War: Kurosawa Akira’s Soundtracks and Soviet Film Theory”
Session L 2:15-4:00 p.m.
**L10: Sound Waves: Technology and Practice in Film Sound
Charles O’Brien, CARLETON UNIVERSITY, “Multi-Track Sound and the Battle of Paris: American and German Films for French Distribution”
Eric Dienstfrey, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “Splits, Quad, and the Psychedelic: Dolby’s Rear Channels Examined”
Katherine Quanz, WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY, “The Industrial Impact of Toronto’s Transition to Digidesign Technology in the Mid-2000s”
Benjamin Wright, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, “Atmos Now: How Dolby is Transforming the Art and Craft of Sound Mixing”
SATURDAY, MARCH 22
Session M 9:00-10:45 a.m.
*Meeting of the Radio Studies Scholarly Interest Group (featuring guests from KEXP to talk about radio in a streaming age)
M4: What is Socialist Realism? Reexamining Soviet Post-montage Cinema
Vincent Bohlinger, RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE, “Soundtrack Design in Soviet Early Sound Film”
M7: Playing with Avatars
Lyn Goeringer, OBERLIN CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC, “No Avatar Required: Audio-reactive Games and Physical Connectivity”
**M10: Global Approaches to Film Sound
Pavitra Sundar, KETTERING UNIVERSITY, “Thinking Sound, Rethinking History in Hindi Cinema”
James Lastra, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “From Mickey Mouse to Peter Kubelka”
Esra-Gokce Sahin, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, “Soundscape and Humor in Acharaka Comedy in Prewar Japan”
M16: Hispanic Musicals: Nationalisms and Transnational Stars
Valeria Camporesi, AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF MADRID,, “Latin Stars, Spanish Women: Lola Flores in the 1950s”
Ana Lopez, TULANE UNIVERSITY, “La Vecindad: A Musical Space for the Mexican Cinema”
Dolores Tierney, SUSSEX UNIVERSITY, and Sergio de la Mora, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS, “Re-mapping Mexican Cinema of the 1970s: Music and Female Sexuality in Zona Roja”
Enrique Garcia, MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE, “From Brechtian to Hollywood Approach: The Hispanic Community and Salsa Music in the Documentary Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa) and the Biopic/Musical El Cantante”
M17: Forms of Non-Fiction: Voices, Realisms, Disciplines, Shadows
James V. Catano, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Voiceover and the Essay Film”
Session N 11:00-12:45 p.m.
N2: The Precarious Aesthetic in Contemporary Moving Images
Arild Fetveit, UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN, “Death, Love, and Cinematic Nostalgia: The Precarious Aesthetic of Lana Del Ray” (linking the aesthetics of her videos to her music, in particular to the ways in which she uses her voice)
*N6: Locating Radio: The Symbolic, Cultural, and Political Dimensions of ‘Place’ in North American Radio Broadcasting
Brian Fauteux, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “Localities and Independent Music in Satellite Radio Programming”
Catherine Martin, BOSTON UNIVERSITY, “‘I’ve Got My Eyes Open and I Can’t be Crooked’: Female Virtue and National Identity in “Terry and the Pirates””
Eleanor Patterson, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “This American Franchise: Negotiating the Production of Local Public Radio for a Global Audience”
Jennifer Wang, INDEPENDENT SCHOLAR, “Some ‘Homemakers’ are More Than Housekeepers: Negotiating Modern Living, Gendered Spheres, and the Rural Lifestyle in Wisconsin Radio”
N11: The Little Flashlight of the Usher: Objects in Exhibition Between Spectator and Screen
Stephen Groening, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY, “‘If You Don’t Want to Look at It, No One Can Force You’: Spectatorship, Agency, and Headphones”
**N16: Teaching Post-Production Sound From a Sound Studies Perspective
Mark Berger, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Jay Beck, CARLETON COLLEGE
George Larkin, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Session O 1:00-2:45 p.m.
O4: Expanding the Meanings of Film: Cinema and the Nation in East Germany
Sabine Hake, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN, “The Popularity of High Culture: On the DEFA Opera Film”
O8: Sinophone Cinemas
Alison Groppe, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, “Multilingualism in Singaporean Film Dialogue: Authenticity or Argument?”
O14: Breath and the Body of the Voice in Cinema
Ian Garwood, UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW, “Lost in Non-Translation: Analysing Film Voices from a Position of Linguistic Incompetence”
Liz Greene, QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST, “The Gasping Breath: Controlling the Female Voice in Hollywood Cinema”
Nessa Johnston, GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART, “The Embodied Aural Encounters of Drama-Documentary”
Philippa Lovatt, UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING, “Breathing Bodies: Sound and Subjectivity in the War Film”
Session P 3:00-4:45 p.m.
P7: “Women Contained”: Figuring Feminism in the Films of Todd Haynes
Respondent: Maria San Filippo, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON
Matthew Von Vogt, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON, “Structural Anorexia in “Superstar””
Jess Issacharoff, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, ““Poison’s” Oath in Another Language: Todd Haynes’ Feminist Promise”
Michael Hetra, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, “Music and the Vicissitudes of Desire in Todd Haynes’s “Mildred Pierce””
P18: Beyond Bond: Alternative Perspectives on the James Bond Franchise
Meenasarani Murugan, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “‘Unlike Men, the Diamonds Linger’: Bassey and Bond beyond the Theme Song”
*P22: Musics and Medias
Shawn VanCour, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “In Search of Spectacular Sound: Aesthetic Innovation in Classical Music Programming on Early U.S. Television”
Lindsay Affleck, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, “The Young Man with a Horn: Harry James and the Intersection of the Big Band Era and Classical Hollywood”
Christopher Cwynar, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “Unbuttoning National Public Radio: Assessing the Place of Popular Music in NPR’s Current Affairs Programming”
Norma Coates, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO, “5% of It is Good:” Leonard Bernstein, CBS Reports, and the Cultural Accreditation of Rock Music”
Session Q 5:00-6:45 p.m.
Q4: Staging Spain: Performance and Acting in Spanish Cinema
Tom Whittaker, UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL, ““Sounding Authentic: Direct Sound and Spanish Vocal Performance in the 1970s””
Q5: Indian Cinema in the 1930s: Scripts, Parsi Theater, and Melodrama in the Early Sound Film
Anupama Kapse, CUNY, QUEENS COLLEGE, “At Home in One’s Voice: Melodrama and Aural Performance in the Early Sound Film”
Q8: New Media History
Andrew Bottomley, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “What is Internet Radio? A Historical Genealogy of the Discourses of Radio in the Digital Era”
Q15: Roadshows to Revisionism: Mapping Shifts in Distribution and Exhibition from the 1950s to the Present
Dennis Bingham, INDIANA UNIVERSITY – PURDUE UNIVERSITY INDIANAPOLIS, “‘Hey, Big Spender’: How Bob Fosse Ran Afoul of Roadshows and Discovered the Revisionist Musical”
Q18: Sound, Vision, and Experience in Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s “Leviathan (2012)”
Respondent: Catherine Russell, CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY
Christopher Pavsek, SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY, “Where’s the Sense in Sensory Ethnography?”
Ohad Landesman, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY, “Faraway, So Close: “Leviathan” and the Digital Future of Observational Ethnography”
Eirik Frisvold Hanssen, NORWEGIAN UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, “‘His Eyes Are Like the Rays of Dawn’: Color Vision and Embodiment in “Leviathan””
Q22: Cinematic Spaces in the Urban Global South
Paulina Suarez-Hesketh, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “Dancing Pictures, Mobile Publics (Mexico City, 1930s -1950s)”
SUNDAY, MARCH 23
Session R 9:00-10:45 a.m.
Todd Decker, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY ST. LOUIS, “Helicopter Music”
R7: Labor Practice and Labors Lost
Josh Heuman, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY, “All of This Sometimes Tends to Look Like a Closed-Shop Operation: Organizing and Professionalizing Labor Markets and Relations in Early Broadcast Writing”
Michael Slowik, SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY, “Losing the Human Element: The Shift from Live to Recorded Music in Hollywood’s Early Sound Era”
**R10: Sound Effects and Sound Affects
Karly-Lynne Scott, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “‘The Voice of Shouts and Moans’: Haptic Aurality, Resonance, and Affect in Pornography”
Ian Kennedy, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY, “Damion Romero’s I Know! I Know! and the Sonic Translation of Nonhuman Affect”
Dong Liang, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, “Is There a Sound Effect in this Score?: SFX in Transition”
Kelly Kirshtner, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MILWAUKEE, “Bodies of Proof: Sound and the Aesthetics of Discovery in Televisual Space”
R20: Beyond Sight and Sound: Film and the Multisensory Experience
Respondent: Carl Plantinga, CALVIN COLLEGE
Joseph Kickasola, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY, “The Senses Know: Wong Kar‐Wai’s Multisensory Aesthetic”
William Brown, ROEHAMPTON UNIVERSITY, “A Touch of Nostalgia, or Time and Cinematic Synaesthesia”
Luis Antunes, UNIVERSITY OF KENT & NORWEGIAN UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, “Multimodal Segmentation in Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line”: Insight into the Time Window of Multisensory Integration”
R24: About Time
Jeff Heinzl, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, “MTV Meets Slow Cinema: Feedback Loops and the Long Take in G.O.O.D. Music’s Mercy (2012)”
Session S 11:00-12:45 p.m.
S3: Nontheatrical Film Communities
Pamela Krayenbuhl, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, “Raising the Barre in Screendance Scholarship: An Archival Analysis of the Dance Company Film”
S8: New Hollywood and the Archive
Jessica Fowler, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, “We’re the Young Generation and We’ve Got Something to Say: The Monkees and the Birth of New Hollywood”
S9: A Global Pre-History of Reality TV
Aniko Imre, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, “Socialist Idols: Reality Music Competition Programs in the Soviet Bloc”
**S10: Audible Cinema: Explorations in Sound
Kartik Nair, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, “‘The Body in the Voice’: Labor, Sound, and the Cinematic Scream”
Chunfeng Lin, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, URBANA-CHAMPAGNE, “The Sound Identity of the Early Chinese Sound Films: Symbolism as Skin, Realism as Body, and Politics as Soul”
James Osborne, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA, “Weaving a Sonic Dream: Voice, Sound, Music, and Meaning in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia””
Neil Lerner, DAVIDSON COLLEGE, “Investigating the Origins of Video Game Music Style, 1977-1983: The Early Cinema Hypothesis”
S11: Historicising Stars
Kyle Barnett, BELLARMINE UNIVERSITY, “Stars on the Stereo: Variations on Phonographic Celebrity”
Amanda McQueen, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON, “”All They’re Good for Is to Make Money”: The Industrial Significance of Elvis Presley Musicals in 1960s Hollywood”
S14: Agency in Media Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Empowerment
This is a workshop in which Elisabeth Soep of Youth Radio will be participating
S15: Playing with the Interface
Lauren Cramer, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY, “Race at the Interface: Rendering Blackness on WorldStarHipHop.com”
Kiri Miller, BROWN UNIVERSITY, “Gaming Gender in “Dance Central””
S16: Questions of Realism
Antonio Iannotta, UNIVERSITY OF SALERNO, “A Sound Laboratory for the Modern: Sound in Italian Cinema from Neorealism to the 60s”
Session T 1:00-2:45 p.m.
Gerald Sim, FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY, “Cacophonies of Affection: Postcolonial Soundscapes”
T7: Histories of Technologies
Dimitrios Pavlounis, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, “Audio Surveillance Goes to the Movies : William J. Burns, the Detective Dictograph, and the Idea of Sound Recording, 1910-1920”
T17: Revisoning Black Time and Space through the Afrofuturist Moving Image
Kevin Ball, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY, “The Incendiary Intergalactic: Sun Ra in Space Is the Place”
The first thing I noticed about 4-block was the silence. It was so quiet that every time I sat on my bunk I fell asleep. The Reformatory was always one continuous roar, musicfrom radios and televisions, noise from guys shouting to one another up and down the block, it seemed to never end. But in Jackson it was very, very different. The daytime hours you could hear typewriters and the closing of cell doors, the phone at the guards desk ringing but that was it. And after 9:00 PM you heard absolutely nothing …” –“Chet” (qtd. in Music Behind Bars: Liberatory Musicology in Two Michigan Prisons, 66-67)
Film and television usually portray prison as the loudest place on earth, filled with nonstop clanking and shouting and slamming, the noise reverberating sharply off its hard, flat surfaces. Actually, prison is much more likely to be a binary soundscape: either too loud or, at times, inhumanly quiet.
In fact, the manipulation of the sonic environment behind bars is part of the punishment mechanism itself, imposing or withholding different kinds of sound from different kinds of prisoners. There is a long history of prison music and prison radio, often within the context of education and activities aimed at recreation and rehabilitation, but here I’m talking about the mundane sounds of closing gates, locking doors, intrusive PA announcements, whirring fans, banging buckets, clattering garbage cans, and of course the human voice at any and all hours and volume levels: the inescapable sounds of quotidian prison life. The denial of the inmates’ ability to control that soundscape for themselves—or the compulsion that they do—thus becomes an issue not just of penal policy, but, interestingly, of media policy as well.
Indeed, the most fascinating questions in media policy these days are arising not at the FCC or OFCOM, but in places where policy scholars don’t usually look: schools, cinemas, and prisons. The state may have a lock on binding legislation, spectrum allocation, and international trade agreements, but it is the everyday policymakers on the school board or in the guard tower who directly affect more lives. With their pronouncements on which media forms may be used by whom, in what ways, and for what purposes, such accidental policymakers seek to regulate behavior through culture. Therefore, it is crucial to consider: which behaviors? which culture? and with which understandings of the relationship between the two?
One such instance of vernacular policymaking came last year when the Bureau of Prisons began testing the use of mp3 players in federal prisons, a technological update on rules that already allowed radios, televisions, and portable cassette or CD players. The move opens up new vistas of choice and control for the prisoners, who are no longer limited to the 20-30 cassette tapes or CDs for their Walkmen that cell space allows, nor dependent on the spotty radio reception in the rural areas where many prisons are located (a spatial impact which itself is an effect of multiple layers of ideology, policy, and control). Unsurprisingly, the players have become many prisoners’ most prized commodity, though the control they may exercise is far from absolute. The song selection is vetted by authorities (no “Cop Killer” in the Penitential Jukebox, don’t you know) and a remote kill switch allows the warden to brick the player should an inmate’s privileges be revoked, or in the case of theft or barter (trading goods and services is almost always a no-no in prison, a prohibition only slightly more effective, one guesses, than the ban on masturbation).
The introduction of mp3 players reveals not just the power and problems of local policymaking but the ways in which sound functions within a carceral system. For authorities, sound is “noise” when it interferes with security and a disciplinary tool when it doesn’t. As Robert Powitz’s article, “A Simple Primer on Jail Noise Control” reminds readers of American Jails, the trade publication for the prison industry, “Good security practices dictate that we want to hear certain sounds, particularly those associated with malfunctioning mechanical systems such as ventilation and plumbing, and more importantly, we need to hear a correctional officer’s call for help, an inmate in distress, and even seditious conversation” (Sep./Oct. 2007, 104). While it is surprisingly nice that Powitz threw “an inmate in distress” in the article, he otherwise presents an exclusively top-down rationale for separating sound from noise; Michel Foucault’s emphasis on the visual panopticon notwithstanding, which several scholars have critiqued, aural surveillance is equally important to the well functioning disciplinary institution and the production of docile bodies.
Sound that American Jails would not classify as “noise”— i.e. sound that doesn’t interfere with security operations—is not merely incidental ambience, however, as the well-regulated soundscape produces its own disciplinary effects. The tortuous sensory deprivation of solitary confinement commonly includes the removal of sonic stimulation: silence as punishment. Already in the 1830s Alexis de Tocqueville critiqued the cruel silence imposed on prisoners in the U.S., and contemporary research repeatedly confirms the mentally destabilizing effects of sonic deprivation (see e.g. here and here). Total sonic deprivation is merely an extreme, however; there is an array of situations involving sound management. For example, conversations with visitors often occur through soundproof glass; obviously the surveillance function of this setup is paramount, but the distanciating filtration of the telephone adds further punishment through physical denial of the unmediated sound of a loved one’s voice. The raucous cacophony of the daytime cell block, meanwhile, acts efficiently as population control of another kind: as an incentive to self-regulate so as to enjoy the perks that enable one to escape the noise. The routines of prison policy intersect with the technologies of media policy to turn the chaotic soundscape into good behavior, through the mechanism of a prisoner’s desire for a pair of earbuds and some familiar tunes. (Media policies also turn that soundscape into a profit center: tracks on the prison’s version of iTunes cost between $1.29 and $1.99, obviously more than the going rate on the outside.)
Via the regulation of the aural environment, the authorities’ “sound”—the elements of the sonic environment that they impose or, at least, see no need to reduce or eliminate—thus becomes the prisoners’ “noise,” while prisoners’ “sound” can be either provided or withheld as part of the disciplinary and economic logic of the carceral system as a whole. As one prisoner, “Marcos,” summarized the system:
They pacify us with these so-called liberties, such as personal TVs, personal radios, personal guitars, tapes, cable TV, a complete store like the free world. And plenty of sports! Why–they call this our rights. In actuality it’s a break down in our system” (qtd. in Elsila, 56).
Such are the effects of so-called “personal” media for such an impersonal environment, for individuals who have been turned into social non-persons: media policy disguised as personal liberty rather than mass prisoner control. This disguise often fools the “throw away the key” law-and-order types who object to coddling criminals with the current Kenny Chesney track; for them, it is worth mentioning that the computers where prisoners download songs for their mp3 players are appropriately called—no joke—“Music Wardens.”
Foucault’s great metaphor for the disciplinary society—the prison as a template of surveillance and control that has been adapted to all spheres of modern life—becomes punishingly literal behind bars, but that is merely where it is most visible or, often, audible. As I explain to my students, media policymakers claim merely to regulate gadgets, physics, and economic relations, but in fact they are always and inevitably also regulating bodies and ideas. The production of the prison soundscape reveals the relation of policy to conduct, a relation that in everyday life often remains cloaked behind scientific and legal discourses.
A final point: equally punishingly literal is the notion of media effects held by those policymakers in the prisons. Inveterate behaviorists, they imagine–and then attempt to manipulate–a direct causal relationship between media consumption and action, between sound and deeds. Those manipulations, however, are a broken media policy for a broken system. As Marcos put it, speaking of the many entertainment options available to the docile inmate: “Even before I ever could imagine I was going to end up in prison, never in my wild imagination could I expect it to be this easy. Yes I said easy. We have no serious form of rehabilitation. . .Why does the state spend more on activities than education?”
Thanks to Genevieve Spinner for invaluable research assistance on this project.
Bill Kirkpatrick is Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Department at Denison University. His ongoing research and teaching interests include media history and cultural policy; impacts of popular culture on American public life; theories, practices, and future of citizen-produced media; and media and disability. He is also co-producer of Aca-Media, a monthly podcast that presents an academic perspective on media. You can find out more at www.billkirkpatrick.net.
REWIND! . . .If you liked this post, you may also dig:
Prison Music: Containment, Escape, and the Sound of America—Jeb Middlebrook
SO! Reads: Jonathan Sterne’s MP3: The Meaning of a Format–Aaron Trammell