In the 1990s, thanks to digital convergence, many disciplines centrally concerned with the mediated uses of sound from a variety of different orientations—communication, musicology, speech, ethnography, history of technology, journalism, theater and drama, and art, to name a few—began to recognize the need for a new term to indicate their shared focus. Here I propose soundwork as that term, laying out the reasons why we need it, how it can change our thinking across a broad range of cultural forms, the kind of cultural and political work it can perform, and how linking sound to our understanding of lived experience changes the way that we perceive the world around us.
Soundwork: Something to Work With
Michele Hilmes is Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught media studies for more than twenty years. Her books include Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable, Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922–1952, Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting, and Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States. She is an active member of the Radio Preservation Task Force, launched in 2015 by the US Library of Congress. In 2017 she received the Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
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Michele Hilmes; Soundwork: Something to Work With. Resonance 1 December 2020; 1 (4): 340–343. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2020.1.4.340
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