The SpokenWeb research network invites you to submit proposals to an interdisciplinary symposium to be held at Concordia University in Montreal, 17-18 July 2020.

The theme of the SpokenWeb Symposium will be:

Listening, Sound, Agency

Listening to sound entails scenarios of subjection and agency. In Althussarian terms we might say that we are persistently interpellated, or hailed into positions of listening subjects in society, requiring us to engage in or with the cultural assumptions and techniques that those listening positions entail. But listening may also represent a capacity for agency. In her cultural history of modern life, Jane Bennett has suggested that listening is a key component of agency, of our capacity to affect the world around us. And in Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance, Brandon LaBelle, elaborates upon this idea, stating that to listen is “to perceive the every-changing relations in which the self is always embedded.” As LaBelle proceeds to explore a series of sonic figures, he outlines a complex roster of listening modalities, demonstrating, in the process, that “the relational affordances of listening” may include care, intensity, freedom, collectivity, direct action, and activism. The SpokenWeb Symposium invites papers from a broad range of disciplinary and methodological approaches that reflect upon the relationship between our three keywords: Listening, Sound, and Agency.

We invite you to submit proposals for papers that consider the implications of our key terms in relation to such themes and fields as: communities of sound and listening, politics and ethics, literature and poetics, performance, pedagogy, disciplinary methodologies and cultural techniques, media and material history, disability, archives and collections, sound art and installations, oral history and storytelling, indigenous communities and practices, among others.

Confirmed Plenary Speakers

Mara Mills (New York University)

Jonathan Sterne (McGill University)

Dylan Robinson (Queen’s University)


Individual papers will be between 15-20 minutes in presentation length. Panel sessions will be 90 minutes in duration, ideally with time for discussion. If you wish to propose a full panel session in a format that differs from the regular three x 20-minute paper format, that is fine, but be sure that it will fit within a 90-minute session slot.

Creative approaches to the call are welcome. Proposals are encouraged from historically underrepresented individuals including, but not limited to, Indigenous and Black peoples, people of colour, queer and transgender peoples, and those in positions of financial precarity. The conference will be free to attend and open to the public.

Paper proposals, with title, should identify the topic, argument, methodology, object(s) of analysis, and explain the overall aims and materials that will be covered in the talk.  Proposals for Panel Sessions should include a general explanation of the concept of the panel, as well as descriptions of the papers or other forms that will comprise the panel.

Please send proposals of no more than 250 words for individual papers and 500 words for panel sessions, plus a one-page CV for each presenter as Word or PDF attachment, to spokenwebsymposium2020@gmail.com by 22 December 2019.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
  • Activating listening as a critical concept and practice
  • Techniques of listening developed in particular disciplines of knowledge
  • Lending agency to silence, to noise
  • Listening as an act of resistance
  • Empathy as a unique form of resistant listening
  • Materiality and media technology
  • Recognition and identification in sound and in sight
  • Voice of the individual and voice of the community
  • Contextual prescriptions of listening (historical, geospatial, architectonic, etc.)
  • Listening as doing
  • Listening as looking
  • Actions in parallel to listening
  • Listening as apprehending and engaging with the world
  • Decolonial listening
  • Disability, interface design, and access
  • Listening dynamics in oral history
  • Ethics of listening
  • Indigenous listening practices
  • Evolution of the soundscape as concept
  • Aesthetics of sound and listening
  • The acousmatic
  • Sound and affect
  • Literary techniques of listening
  • Reading and listening
  • Sound curation (at literary events, poetry readings, in archives, on the street, etc.)
  • The sound of printed texts, visual image, and audiobooks
  • The sound of canonicity
  • Sound and listening in relation to hermeneutic and non-hermeneutic methods