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CfP – Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing Conference 2020

November 15, 2019

Sound Studies cfp conferene images

What Up Doe! Welcome 2 Detroit

Visit for an audio version of the CfP.

Conference Organizers

Kati Ahern (SUNY Cortland)
Victor Del Hierro (University of Florida)
Benjamin Lauren (Michigan State University)
Dave Sheridan (Michigan State University)
Crystal VanKooten (Oakland University)

Sound Studies invites proposals for the Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing Conference, to be held in Detroit, Michigan, on October 1-3 in 2020. Detroit is the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – the Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. The banks of surrounding waters such as Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River could tell us historical stories of intertribal coalitions, initial French colonization and the founding of Detroit in 1701, further Native displacement with the Treaty of 1836, a stop on the Underground Railroad into Canada, the rise of American industrialization, the Great Migration, various waves of European immigrants, the fleeing of American industry, and the current rebuild/gentrification of the city. Detroit’s contemporary history is home to a wealth of sound culture and music history such as Motown; the soul of Aretha Franklin; the protopunk of the MC5 and The Stooges; the contribution of queer, transgender, Black, Indigenous, and persons of color to house and techno music (see the Club Heaven sound system project); hip hop legend J Dilla; Third Man Records; blues legend John Lee Hooker; and, more. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an early version of “I Have a Dream” in Detroit, and traditions of spoken word performance continue in the work of artists like jessica Care moore.  In one way or another the D has had an impact on all our sonic lives making it an exciting place to convene those with an interest in sonic scholarship and practice.

The 2020 conference aims to provide an interdisciplinary contact zone for scholars in sound studies, rhetoric studies, and writing studies to explore and perform creative works and research made in, with, of, and from sound. While we invite a wide range of proposals that take up expansive conceptions of “sound studies,” “rhetoric,” and “writing,” we are especially interested in proposals that explore notions of sound and place. We offer the following as potential starting points:

  • Re-locating silenced or dislocated voices
  • Using sound as a way of knowing and representing places through mapping, annotating, oral histories, or field recording
  • Modes and media intersecting in understanding spatial markers (e.g. navigation or video composition)
  • Bodily, mobility, and material interfaces with sound
  • Sounding out the disciplinary relationships between places of rhetoric, writing, and sound studies
  • Making and circulating sound for the purposes of social change
  • Critical engagement and intervention with sound in spaces of power

We anticipate an interactive conference experience, and we encourage submissions that will maximize the number of participating voices—roundtables and dialogue-based sessions, for example. We also strongly encourage proposals that are “made” in sound. This work may include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Audio, video, or material/physically instantiated sonic scholarship
  • Performances that re-present sound scholarship in different spaces, genres, media
  • Short films or documentaries that explore some aspect of sonic experience
  • Soundscapes
  • Musical or other creative-critical sonic compositions/performances
  • Sonic games that take advantage of the affordances of locative or related media
  • Gallery-style installations that blur the line between scholarship and sound art

A note on the installation option: depending on the volume of installation submissions we receive, some portion of the conference will be set aside for participants to tour a gallery of accepted installations with their creators on hand for Q&A.

While collaborative proposals are encouraged, individual proposals are welcome. The deadline for proposals is November 15, 2019. Individual proposals are limited to 500 words for a 15-20 minute presentation. Roundtable, panel, or other collaborative proposals are limited to 1,250 words for an hour and twenty minute presentation. No more than two proposals per person. Successful proposals will also include a statement on how your materials will engage a multiple sensory experience, ensuring that your sonic work is accessible to all attendees.

Submit proposals via email to [email protected]. Proposers will be notified of organizers’ decisions by December 15, 2019. Additional questions about the conference may also be sent to [email protected].

Visit the website for the full CfP and details.


November 15, 2019
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