Here, you may watch and listen to Bruce Smith’s lecture, “What is (Are?) Sound Studies and What Shape is it (Are They?) in Now?”, delivered at Green College, University of British Columbia, on Thursday 21st March 2019. We are extremely grateful to Green College for recording this talk and for allowing us to post it.
This talk explores the shape of Sound Studies in the sense of form or contour. The field of Sound Studies can be considered (1) as the extent of what can be perceived through hearing, (2) as a branch of academic study, and (3) as a region of space in which force is exerted on objects within that region of space, a “force-field.” The multiplicity of disciplines that converge in Sound Studies could be visualized as a circle or sphere, or perhaps as a complicated Venn diagram, but a more promising scheme can be found by tracing the propagation and reception of a sound from physical source through media to ear to the brain and body of a listener situated within a cultural habitus, as Pierre Bourdieu describes it. In this talk, the idea of Sound Studies as a force-field is tested in a few examples of how sound and voice figured in the culture of early modern England.