Cultural Acoustics: Sound Studies and the Study of Culture
Without doubt, Sound Studies has become a burgeoning field for rich, eminently interdisciplinary initiatives in the humanities. One of the major contributions of the field has been to mark out the neglect in theories of medial modernity that focus entirely on various kinds of visual culture and their historicity. What I call "cultural acoustics," while under the broad rubric of sound studies, specifically draws attention to the potent role that acoustic practices could play in distinguishing, comparing, establishing, and dispersing cultures, whether scientific, musical, political, national, trans-national, or religiously bound. Examples include the work of Ana Maria Ochoa on listening and knowledge in nineteenth-century Colombia, Jonathan Sterne’s work on the centrality of sound, hearing, and listening to the “cultural life of modernity,” or Charles Hirschkind’s on the “ethical listening” of sermons and its role in the social and political transformations in Egypt. In my talk, I will use my own research on eighteenth-century Europe to discuss the key role played by listening practices and conceptions of sound in formative ideas of culture, nation, and anthropology and what these findings offer to the contemporary study of culture.
Main Research Interests
- 17th to 19th Century German Literature and Philology
- Theories and Practices of Reading
- Digital Humanities
“Sounding Culture from the Pulpit.” In: Couturier-Heinrich, Clémence (ed.): Revue Germanique Internationale. (Forthcoming 2018, in French)
“Cultural Hierarchies and Vital Tones: The Making of Herder’s ‘Mother Tongue.’” In: Gramling, David and Wiggin, Bethany (eds.): German Studies Review 41.3, 2017. (Forthcoming)
“A Book of Living Paintings: Tableaux Vivants in Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809).” In: Daub, Adrian and Krimmer, Elisabeth: Goethe Yearbook 23, 2016, 245-270.