The early years of radio broadcasting coincide with a high point for aesthetic modernism in literature, film and music: this conference explores how the radio has served as both its medium and muse. Having once been considered a ‘forgotten medium’, as Edward Pease and Everette Dennis put it (Pease and Dennis, 1995), the intervening twenty-five years have witnessed a resurgence of interest in the radio, particularly in the emerging disciplines of radio studies and sound studies. In musicology, too, the radio has been examined as an institutional setting for the experimentation of, for example, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Niebur, 2010) and composers of elektronische Musik at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Iverson, 2019). Taking radio as a focus for the study of musical modernism allows several different contemporary methodologies to be brought into conversation, from science and technology studies and actor-network theory to recent theorizations of “vernacular” or “popular” modernisms (Lacey, 2018; Nemmers, 2017) and sound studies’ concern for the political valences of listening (Radano and Olaniyan, 2016).
This conference seeks to bring together scholars from such established and emerging disciplines and provide a platform for new research on radio, modernism, and technological cultures of listening more broadly, from the birth of radio to the post-war era.
We invite proposals for papers (20 minutes with 5–10 minutes for questions) and organised sessions (three thematically linked papers, totalling 90 minutes) on topics including but not limited to:
- Institutional relationships between radio and musical or literary modernism;
- Literary, filmic and musical representations of the radio and radio listening;
- Modernist aesthetics and the technological affordances of radio;
- Radio, modernism and empire, nation, region;
- Radio, modernism and the high/low culture divide;
- Radio, modernism and the aesthetics of sensation;
- Radio as musical instrument in aleatory music and beyond.
Titles and abstracts of 250 words should be sent as a PDF, Word Doc, or Google Doc to firstname.lastname@example.org by 27 April 2020. Include your name and institutional affiliation, if applicable. Please specify in the proposal if you have technical requirements beyond audio-visual playback. Submissions will be anonymised when reviewed. Accepted participants will be notified by 11 May 2020.