Craig Eley: A Resonant Boom

On Thursday October 15, the Media and Cultural Studies Colloquium in the Department of Communication Arts will host a public talk by Craig Eley. His talk will be entitled “A Resonant Boom: Supersonic Flight, Psychoacoustics, and Environmental Sound” and will take place from 4:00-5:30pm in Vilas Hall 4028

Craig’s talk examines the relationship between jet engines and environmental sound media in the United States through the sound of the sonic boom. The boom emerged in the early 1950s into a cultural moment dominated by hi-fi audio, where demonstrations of loud sounds inside and outside the home were markers of masculinity and military power. But as the sonic boom moved to commercial applications in the 1960s, it was met with opposition from a grassroots coalition of scientists, authors and environmental activists who argued for quietude as a natural resource and even a human right.

Craig Eley is an ACLS Public Fellow working with To the Best of Our Knowledge, a weekly radio program produced at Wisconsin Public Radio. He has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa. He has research interests in a wide variety of sound-based phenomena, including sound and the voice, the history of field recording and acoustic ecology, and sound technologies.Previously he has had fellowships with the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State University and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution.


Peter Cusack: Sounds from Dangerous Places

On September 22 and 23, the Center for Visual Cultures will host Peter Cusack, a sound artist and a research fellow and member of CriSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) at the University of the Arts, London. Co-sponsored by SoundStudies@UW.

Keynote Lecture:
“Sounds from Dangerous Places”
Tue. Sep. 22, 5:00pm – 7:00pm, Elvehjem 140.

Public Lecture with the Center for Visual Culture entitled “Sounds from Dangerous Places: Sonic Journalism”. In this keynote lecture, Peter Cusack asks “what can we learn from dangerous places by listening to their sounds? The talk will include recordings and photographs from Chernobyl, the Caspian Oil fields, and the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and will forcus on how “dangerous places” (military zones, polluted areas, etc.) can be both sonically and visually compelling, even beautiful and atmospheric.

“Musical Ecologies in a Damaged World”
Wed. Sep. 23, 12:00pm – 2:00pm, 212 University Club.

Follow up discussion with Peter Cusack moderated by Craig Eley.

Speaker Bio: Peter Cusack is a sound artist, and a research fellow and member of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) at the University of the Arts, London.

Jonathan Sterne

On September 17 and 18, SoundStudies@UW will host media historian and cultural theorist Jonathan Sterne, who is Professor and James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology in the Art History and Communication Studies Department at McGill University.

Keynote Lecture
“The Strange Case of Missile Mail: A Drone Archaeology”

Thurs. Sep. 17, 4:00pm – 5:30pm, Elvehjem 140.
On June 8, 1959, the U.S. Post Office collaborated with the U.S. Navy on an experimental mail missile launch from a submarine off the coast of Florida. Missile mail represented an extension of the Post Office’s long-term strategy of adopting new transportation technologies for the movement of mail and an orchestrated attempt to domesticate missiles and encourage U.S. citizens to understand technologies of warfare in other terms, as normal parts of commerce and everyday life. In this keynote lecture, Jonathan Sterne considers missile mail as the post office’s last grab at transportation innovation, before they turned their focus to information technologies like ZIP codes and optical character recognition. He will also consider the 1959 launch as a historical allegory that can help us understand attempts to commercialize and popularize “unmanned” drones today.

Brown Bag Session
“Histories of Sound, Media and Signal Processing”

Thurs. Sep. 17, 12:30pm – 2:00pm, 8411 Social Science.
For the last decade, Sterne has been studying the cultures and institutions that have developed around digital audio technologies. In this brown bag talk, sponsored by the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, Sterne will discuss that work in progress, focusing on the centrality of signal processing to contemporary music, and what it might tell us about broader changes in media and technological cultures. A Q&A session will follow.

“Sound Pedagogy: A Seminar for Sound Teaching”

Fri. Sep. 18, 10:00am – 12:00pm, University Club Room 212.
While sound has long been central to various academic disciplines, audio brings its own distinct challenges and opportunities as a tool to teach with and through. The recent emergence of Sound Studies as an interdisciplinary field of study, however, has spurred increased attention toward sound as a tool for teaching and engaging with new generations of students. In this collaborative workshop hosted by the Borghesi-Mellon Workshop on Sound Studies, Jonathan Sterne will lead participants in a discussion about their sound-based courses, as well as share syllabus and assignment ideas for teaching sound-based theory and practice courses. (Participants should RSVP to and read Sterne’s “Sound Pedagogy” article before attending the workshop).