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Photo credit: Alex Schröder & Royal Conservatoire archive

Call for Papers, Journal of Sonic Studies 30_07_23

The Journal of Sonic Studies welcomes, until the 30th of July 2023, proposals for both articles and sound artworks that specifically address the issue of sonic materiality.

The last decade has witnessed what has been characterised as a material turn in the arts and humanities, which has shifted attention from the role played by language and discourse within culture to that of objects, technologies, materials, and non-human organisms and processes. New ways of thinking about materiality prompted by developments in realist philosophy, including new materialism and speculative realism, have raised important questions about the place of the material in arts and culture, nonhuman agency, the relationship between technology and culture, anthropocentrism, and the environment. However, consideration of the sonic has not always been at the forefront of these discussions – perhaps because sound has been understood to be immaterial or addressed in ontological ways that privilege its sources. In this way materialist approaches to the sonic raise the possibility of rethinking the nature of sound itself, and thereby what is at stake in it.

In this special issue of the Journal of Sonic Studies we will explore how new ways of thinking about materiality might contribute to our understanding of sound, and at the same time how sound might contribute to developing ideas on materiality.

This special issue continues and builds on the journal’s discussion of sonic materiality in its two ‘Materials of Sound’ special issues edited by Caleb Kelly (2018 and 2019) and focuses on two fundamental questions: what is sound’s materiality and what is sonic materialism?

We welcome proposals for both articles and sound artworks that specifically address the issue of sonic materiality. Proposals may engage with, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • What is sound’s materiality, and what is at stake in a critical engagement with sonic materiality?
  • How can notions of materiality politicise and historicise thinking about sound?
  • What are sound’s material dimensions? Do these relate only to the objects, technologies, bodies and organic and inorganic forms of matter that create, preserve or respond to sound? Or are there ways in which sound (as event, energy or change) might be considered material?
  • What new perspectives on the cultures, technologies, politics and ethics of sound are opened up by a consideration of sound’s materiality?
  • How do notions of nonhuman agency relate to sound’s materiality? What is at stake in the idea of sonic agency?
  • In what ways might creative practice in sound represent a form of ‘material thinking’? How do technological and material processes challenge established forms of creative practice?
  • What is a sonic object?
  • If the notion of sonic ecology points to the ways in which sound is situated within environments, what does a consideration of materiality bring to this?
  • What are the ecological and biopolitical dimensions of sound’s materiality? How might ideas about materiality prompt a reconsideration of the relationship between the human and the nonhuman?
  • How might sonic materialism function as a form of nonideal theory, through direct engagement with material objects and practices rather than idealized models of sound?
  • How might a critical engagement with sound address the gap between the philosophical and theoretical approaches to materiality and the experienced materiality of sound and sound-related objects and processes?
  • How can we create a language of materialism that emerges directly from the materials of sound?
  • What might sound contribute to the material turn’s shift to objects, technologies, materials and nonhuman organisms and process? How might this relate to the anthropocentrism inherent in what has been termed the ‘sonic turn’, in which recent discussion of the politics of listening have focused on the human subject.
  • How might indigenous perspectives on matter and sound challenge and problematise the so-called “new materialism”?

We would particularly welcome proposals for articles that address these topics from Global South and/or Global Majority perspectives.

Please send your abstract (300 words) and short contributor biography (100 words) to Andy Birtwistle andy.birtwistle@canterbury.ac.uk and Lauren Redhead l.redhead@gold.ac.uk by 30 July 2023