This issue, titled “The Soundwork of Media Activism,” engages some of the most pressing concerns of the early 21st century by tracing affective, embodied, sometimes playful, sometimes violent experiences of aurality in activist and otherwise transformative media. The year 2020 has been marked by upheaval and activism. And it has been marked by sound. From our collectively heightened awareness of birdsong to chants calling for abolition, 2020 has been a year defined by aural crisis and calls for justice. Compared to some of the stark images we have witnessed, sound might seem to fade away in importance. To allow this, however, would be to return to the ocularcentrism that troubled early media studies. We draw upon Michele Hilmes’s concept of soundwork to tune into sound and listening in our experiences of crisis and activism. Research into soundwork helps to elucidate the sonic dimensions of efforts to assert and reclaim control...
Introduction: Words from the Guest Editors on “The Soundwork of Media Activism”
Jen Shook is a digital and performance dramaturg whose research and practice live at the intersection of literature, performance, digital humanities and media, Indigenous and critical race and gender studies, and cultural memory. She is a visiting junior fellow with the Center for Humanities & Information at Penn State and has taught at institutions including DePaul University and Grinnell College. She founded Caffeine Theatre (2002–2012) and has participated in the NEH’s Digital Native American Indigenous Studies pedagogy cohort and as National Women’s Studies Association WikiEdu Fellow. She has served on the editorial board of the multimedia journal PUBLIC and on juries for Sound of Silent Film Festival, 50pp Latinx new plays, and Native Voices, and she serves on the steering committee for the American Studies Association DH Caucus. Her manuscript Unghosting Tribalographies: Performing Oklahoma-as-Indian-Territory connects politics and pop culture with plays, poetry, and virtual performances that remediate early archives.
Georgia Ennis is a postdoctoral scholar at the Penn State Center for Humanities & Information, where she is developing a book manuscript and companion digital archive. Her book-in-progress explores the role of community media in grassroots linguistic, cultural, and ecological revitalization in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Alex Sayf Cummings is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University. Her work deals with media, law, technology, and the political culture of the modern United States; it has appeared in Salon, the Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of American History, Technology and Culture, and the Journal of Urban History, among other outlets. Her first book, Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013, and a second, Brain Magnet: Research Triangle Park and the Idea of the Idea Economy, was published by Columbia University Press as part of its Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism series in spring 2020. She is also a co-editor of the volume East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte (Rutgers, 2020) and a senior editor at the blog Tropics of Meta.
Josh Shepperd is an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is the director of the Library of Congress Radio Preservation Task Force. For 2018–2020 he is a Humanities and Information Fellow at Penn State University and is the continuing Sound Fellow of the Library of Congress NRPB.
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Jen Shook, Georgia Ennis, Alex Sayf Cummings, Josh Shepperd; Introduction: Words from the Guest Editors on “The Soundwork of Media Activism”. Resonance 1 December 2020; 1 (4): 335–339. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2020.1.4.335
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