Title of the Talk: Sound and Safe: A History of Listening Behind the Wheel
When? Thursday 7 May 2015 (17:00-18:30)
Where? Ertegun House, St Giles, University of Oxford
Abstract: Many people enjoy listening and singing along to music while driving—it is their auditory break in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But how did the car, noisy and open as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century, develop into a space for celebrating auditory privacy? This lecture unravels the history of the sonic ideals and acoustic practices of automotive engineers, marketing departments, and consumers. It shows how drivers learned to shift their auditory attention from the engine to the car radio, and how car sound design helped to sustain the visual ideal of the cinematic drive and the illusion of freedom on the road. It also reflects on how to study sensory experiences of people in the past.
Speaker Biography: Karin Bijsterveld (1961) is historian and professor of Science, Technology & Modern Culture at Maastricht University. She is author of Mechanical Sound: Technology, Culture and Public Problems of Noise in the Twentieth Century (MIT 2008), co-editor (with José van Dijck) of Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices (AUP 2009), and co-editor (with Trevor Pinch) of The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies (2012). She has edited Soundscapes of the Urban Past: Staged Sound as Mediated Cultural Heritage (Transcript, 2013), and is co-author of Sound and Safe: A History of Listening behind the Wheel (Oxford UP, 2014, with Eefje Cleophas, Stefan Krebs and Gijs Mom). She is currently coordinating the VICI-research program Sonic Skills on the history of sound and listening in science, engineering and medicine.(http://fasos-research.nl/sonic-skills/)
Bijsterveld is Director of Studies of the Research MSc Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology and coordinator of the Sound Studies Specialization in the MA Media Culture at Maastricht University. She is former Academic Director of the Netherlands Graduate Research School Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC), and founding member of ESSA (European Sound Studies Association). She has just joined the Editorial Board of Sound Studies: Interdisciplinary Journal of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (Bloombury Publishing).
Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.