The links below lead to the original publishers’ sites. You can also find these articles and more of my work (and in many cases, PDFs) at my Academia.edu page.
“Cage’s Echoes of the Anechoic.” 2022. Australian Humanities Review, Issue 70, November 2022.
Here I explore the mythology around John Cage’s visit to the anechoic chamber at Harvard. The chamber was designed to completely eliminate echoes. Ironically, the tale of Cage’s experience in that space has echoed through history, affecting our understanding of silence, sound, and the self. But what do we really know about what happened there? And what could we ever know about such an event? To use a term Cage loved, the relationship between sound, self, and meaning-making is indeterminate.
“Tinnitus, Exclusion, Relationality (Beyond Normate Phenomenology).” 2021. (A dialogue with Marie Thompson, introduction by Jonathan Sterne.) Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry, Vol. 2, No. 3.
In this dialogue with Marie Thompson, each we discuss our ongoing research into tinnitus. The more you objectify, other, and push against tinnitus, the louder and more troubling it becomes. People who carefully guard their ears and avoid sound often end up with even worse tinnitus. This lesson that I learned from tinnitus (as a researcher and someone who experiences it) has became my model for all listening: from phantom sound to imagined sound, to acoustic sound, to figurative listening online, to political listening.
“The Scholarly Podcast: Form and Function in Audio Academia.” 2021. In Saving New Sounds: Podcast Preservation and Historiography, Jeremy Morris and Eric Hoyt, eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 181-194.
In this chapter, I provide an over- view of what I call “audio academia”: a diverse collection of initiatives aimed at producing and communicating scholarship through electronic audio in the form of podcasts, audiobooks, online lectures, and other genres. I examine its past precedents, rationale, current forms, and future possibilities. I then turn to study the scholarly podcast per se, which currently includes two main types: what I call “hi-fi, mid-register” shows for broad audiences and “lo-fi, high-register” shows for scholars. I conclude by advocating for a third, fledgling type of podcast that draws inspiration from both, taking audio production seriously as a mode of scholarship.
“Emotional Rescue: Consuming media is as much about managing feeling as accessing information.” Real Life. December 3, 2020.
This piece begins with the example of recent digital-audio pillow technologies used to soothe the media consumer. The cozy conflation of content and comfort, however, is not a recent digital development. Nor is it, I would argue, a quirky edge case of media use. In fact, this is what media are: tools for altering how the body feels and what it perceives, controlling our relationship to others and the world, enveloping ourselves, and even disappearing ourselves.
“Here: Active Listening System Sound Technologies and the Personalization of Listening.” 2018. In Appified: Culture in the Age of Apps. Morris, Jeremy Wade and Murray, Sarah (eds.). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 276-285.
Examines in-ear wearable computer technology (“hearables”) an example of both what I call “the silicon sonic turn” and the customization of individual listening through orphic media. Hearables function as interfaces with the aural world, recasting the latter as content to be selectively accessed and manipulated–inserting a logic and responsibility of choice into the relationship with the lived aural environment.
“Disability and Biotechnological Mediation.” 2017. In Disability Media Studies: Media, Popular Culture, and the Meanings of Disability, Elizabeth Ellcessor and Bill Kirkpatrick, eds. New York: New York University Press, 311-329.
Proposes a framework for the study of biomediation that disentangles medical uses of media technologies from the medical model of disability. Media do far more than represent disability: they are also used to set bodily norms, circulate normative knowledge, test/screen bodies against this knowledge, catalog/regulate screened bodies, mediate bodies for therapeutic purposes. The framework is explained through the case study of tinnitus screening, therapy, and advocacy.
“The Twelfth Man: Fan Noise in the Contemporary NFL.” (Co-authored with Travis Vogan.) Popular Communication Volume 14:1 (2016).
Using Seattle’s 12th Man and the discourses surrounding it, this essay examines the relationship between sound, space, and fandom in the contemporary National Football League. We consider how fans’ sonic labor is constitutive of their place within a fan community; the relationship between sound and fandom’s spatial and affective dimensions; and how contemporary sport and media organizations capitalize on fans’ production of sound and the embodied experience and communal identity it fashions. Specifically, the league has shifted from regulating fan noise as an interruption to cultivating it as a communicative resource that adds value to games, both in person and in television through surround-sound mixes.
“The Tinnitus Trope: Acoustic Trauma in Narrative Film.” 2015. The Cine-Files Issue 8, Spring.
A brief history and analysis of what I call “the tinnitus trope,” cinematic sound design evoking a damaged auditory perspective through ringing noise and a reduction of ambient environmental sound. I provide a historical timeline of the effect from 1970 to 2014 and use spectral analysis to evaluate an earlier technological claim about the effect’s advent. I also suggest two possible reasons for this effect becoming so prevalent: 1) after 9-11, consequence-free Hollywood explosions were no longer tenable and 2) an ascendant neurological conception of self has supplanted the unconscious, Freudian self in American culture. Instead of the remembered voices and voiceover narration of post-WWII film noir, we now hear the wordless signal of blown ears and short-circuiting brains.
“Unpacking a Punch: Transduction and the Sound of Combat Foley in Fight Club.” 2014. Cinema Journal Volume 53:4.
This article unpacks the production and impact of the Foley punch in David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999) to theorize the sonic transmission of affect in cinema. It advocates transduction as a model for a soundtrack analysis that acknowledges the already-mediated nature of aural subjectivity and allows for authenticity in electronically mediated experiences.
“Listening to Tinnitus: Roles of Media When Hearing Breaks Down.” Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog, July 16, 2012.
In this short study of tinnitus and the roles media play in its creation, diagnosis, treatment, and public discourse, I advocate for an “applied sound studies, one that intervenes in this mediated public discourse, works against moral panic and hyperawareness, and suggests the quieting possibilities that open up when we grasp the constructed nature of our aurality.” Listening carefully to tinnitus can highlight the ways in which our most subjective aural perceptions are also social, cultural, and mediated—perhaps the fundamental insight of sound studies. My hope is that by listening critically to tinnitus we can speak to it as well, helping tinnitus sufferers find relief.
“QuietComfort: Noise, Otherness, and the Mobile Production of Personal Space.” 2011. American Quarterly Special Issue: Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies Volume 63:3.
An examination of noise-canceling headphone’s invention and early marketing, both of which bear a special relationship to the airport and commercial airplane–paradoxical spaces in which the pursuit of happiness impedes its own enjoyment. In the early 2000’s, Bose headphones were marketed primarily to white, male, business-class travelers, offering the promise of “a haven of tranquility.” The article studies headphones as technologies of self-care in deregulated, neoliberal settings; it also critiques the ways that structural problems can be perceived as gendered and radicalized noise.