Sound+ Conference this weekend

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If you’re interested in a promising conference this weekend, check out the Sound+ Conference at the University of Maryland. You can see the program of speakers and panels here, and you can check out soundbites related to the conference here. It’s free to the public; just be sure to register. Below is the conference description:

Increasingly, and across a broad variety of fields, a conversation has been unfolding about the sounds that produce, surround and absorb “text.” Work on cultural sites ranging from the jazz of the Harlem Renaissance, to the resonance-chamber of Shakespeare’s Globe, to the audio compression format of the MP3, to the acoustic torture at Guantanamo Bay, has begun to challenge models in which text is understood as a predominantly visual, linguistic construct.

This conference brings together leading scholars who have helped to reconceive the relationship between sound and text. Emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of sound studies and the importance of research on the ways in which experiences of sound are culturally produced, Jonathan Sterne has written, “Sound studies should be a central meeting place where sonic imaginations go to be challenged, nurtured, refreshed and transformed.” “Sound+” offers a space to pursue this goal.

As work on soundscapes, audio technologies and acoustic ecologies continues to open up new ways of thinking about the sonic dimensions of literature, this conference invites scholars from a range of fields to address the following questions:

  • What happens when text is mediated through acoustic environments?
  • How does sound become categorized as literary?
  • How do writing and sound thread together in areas such as theater, opera, jazz, film, hip-hop, poetry, performance art, and digital literatures?
  • How does writing encode or remediate sound, and how is literature shaped by acoustic technologies from voice to byte?
  • How does sound reshape the politics of literature, and how are political acts distributed between text and sound?

Scholars of literature, rhetoric, composition, media studies, science and technology studies, art and culture studies, architecture, philosophy, political economy, the practice of politics and other fields have demonstrated the limitations of conceiving of text in purely discursive terms. This work has helped re-direct attention to the voice, to performance, and especially to listening practices that impact how we understand cultures, contexts and objects previously analyzed through approaches that privileged the eye. This conference promises to extend and expand upon those conversations.

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