AAL Conference 2013
July 10-13, 2013
University of New South Wales

Modern Soundscapes

Annual Conference of the Australasian Association of Literature held in conjunction with the Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia

University of New South Wales

July 10 -13, 2013

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Steven Connor (Cambridge)

Garrett Stewart (Iowa)

Laura Marcus (Oxford)

What is a modern soundscape? 

This conference aims to address this question by drawing together researchers engaged with the history and theory of sound and noise from the fields of literature, film, and media studies, as well as architecture, music and the visual arts to consider the multiple soundscapes that have shaped and continue to shape the history of modernity. Jonathan Sterne contends that dating from around 1725 ‘sound itself’ becomes ‘an object and a domain of thought and practice, where it had previously been conceptualized in terms of particular idealized instances like voice or music’. This historical claim challenges the assumption that modern culture is essentially a visual culture, substituting the ear for the eye, and creating a space for a new sonic history of modernity to be written, theorized and contested.   Thinking through sound has long been a literary preoccupation. Reflecting on the potential of the “auditory imagination” T.S.Eliot wrote, it “is the feeling for syllable and rhythm, penetrating far below the conscious levels of thought and feeling, invigorating every word; sinking to the primitive and forgotten, returning to the origin and bringing something back, seeking the beginning and the end. It works through meanings, certainly, or not without meanings in the ordinary sense, and fuses the old and obliterated and the trite, the current, and the new and surprising, the most ancient and civilized mentality.”  Thinking through the resonant opening created by poetic form Eliot imagines potential creative fusions that cut across space, time, culture and forms. Taking inspiration from Eliot’s expansive vision, we invite papers that engage with sound as a catalyst for thought, critical and creative practice, and historical reconsiderations of modern soundscapes from the eighteenth century to the present.

Conference organisers

Helen Groth, Julian Murphet, Penny Hone, Joseph Cummins

Final program (140 KB)

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