The SpokenWeb Sound Institute (SSI) 2020

Due to restrictions surrounding in-person meetings due to COVID-19, this year's SpokenWeb Sound Institute (SSI) will be comprised of a series of asynchronously delivered, online events during the months of May, June and July 2020, hosted virtually from Concordia University in Montreal. Participation in SSI workshops and events is open to all members of the SpokenWeb network.
As with all of our planned Institutes, this year's SSI will provide opportunities to reflect on the past year, solidify the work of each of the SpokenWeb Task Forces, share tools and knowledge, and plan the year ahead. For SpokenWeb members who are not yet affiliated with any Task Force, this will also be a great opportunity to see how you might like to get involved in collaborative projects during the 2020-2021 academic year.
This summer's SSI program includes practice-based training in workshops with experts in Computational Approaches to working with spoken audio collections, Podcasting Production, Oral History Methods, and Data and Metadata Curation. Each workshop will consist of an intensive session with the introduction of key concepts and principles followed by focused activities. Workshop sessions will last between 2-3 hours, depending on the planned activities. In addition to these themed workshop sessions, the SSI includes a 3-hour workshop session of Student Lightning Talks where SpokenWeb students will present short talks on ideas, activities and research they have been pursuing and receive feedback and discussion from the wider network..

Full SpokenWeb Sound Institute (SSI) 2020 Program

  • Thursday, May 28, 12-2 pm CST: Workshop #1 on AudAnnotate Virtual Workshop with Tanya Clement and Brumfield Labs
  • Thursday, June 25, 1-3 pm EDT: Workshop #2 on Podcasting with Hannah MacGregor and Stacey Copeland
  • Thursday, July 9, 2-3:30 pm EDT: Workshop #3 on Oral History methods with Steven High, Mathieu Aubin and Samuel Mercier
  • Friday, July 17, 1-5 pm EDT: SpokenWeb All Team Meeting (with a focus on collections processing)
  • Sunday, July 19, 8 pm EDT: SpokenWeb Words and Music Show (a variety show, all team members are invited to participate)
  • Wednesday, July 22, 2-5 pm EDT: SpokenWeb Sound Institute Workshops Sessions: Student Lightning Talks
  • Thursday, July 23, 4-7 pm EDT: SpokenWeb DH2020 Sessions

Workshop #1: AudiAnnotate Virtual Workshop

Offered by: Tanya Clement (U Texas at Austin) and Brumfield Labs
Date and Time: Thursday, May 28, 2020, at 12-2pm CST

Workshop Description and Agenda: This introductory workshop will include basic information about the AudiAnnotate project, about using IIIF and the IIIF specifications for AV, how we are using Audacity to annotate audio files, and how we are using static sites, Jekyll, and GitHub to manage editing and publishing IIIF manifests and annotations.

Workshop #2: Pitching Your Podcast Idea with The SpokenWeb Podcast

Date and Time: Thursday, June 25, at 1:00 - 3 pm EDT
Offered by: Hannah MacGregor and Stacey Copland (SFU)
Venue: Zoom link https://concordia-ca.zoom.us/j/132863636

Workshop Description: Excited about making a podcast episode, but don't know where to start? Join SpokenWeb Podcast host Hannah McGregor and podcast project manager Stacey Copeland for a workshop on taking your podcast idea to the next level. We'll introduce you to The SpokenWeb Podcast and then walk you through developing a podcast idea, from concept to pitch to execution. No prior podcasting experience necessary, but participants should come with some episode ideas germinating!

During this workshop, you will be working with your peers on one activity, where you will participate in different teams. Please refer to the attached excel sheet to see your assigned team. If you have any concerns with your team or would like to be re-assigned, please let us know in advance of the workshop. You can also find instructions for the workshop activity below, which we'll also review during the workshop itself. The other attached document, the Pitch Template, will be help you complete this activity.

Activity instructions will be emailed to all registered participants in advance of the workshop meeting.  Please review the activity instructions and have the handout ready before you join the workshop.

Workshop #3: Oral History Methods and Oral Literary History

Date and Time: Thursday, July 9, 2-3:30 EDT
Offered by: Steven High, Mathieu Aubin and Samuel Mercier (Concordia U)
Venue: Zoom (link to be sent to the network via email)

Workshops Description: The first part of this workshop will introduce foundational concepts and methods from oral history.  The workshop will then proceed into the presentation of clips, case-studies and scenarios for all-group discussion with the goals of 1. collaboratively defining a SpokenWeb Oral History protocol for engaging in interviews around collections of literary sound recordings, and 2. advancing our understanding and definition of the idea of "oral literary history".

SpokenWeb All Team Meeting: Reviewing and Refining Description and Processing of SpokenWeb Collections

Date and Time: Friday, July 17, 1-5 pm EDT
Offered by: An all SpokenWeb Team event

Description: This all team meeting will function as a collaborative collection processing summit discussion at which we will pursue focused discussion of the approaches we have been taking to describing and processing our diverse audio collections with the SpokenWeb metadata schema and Swallow, the metadata management system.  Discussion will focus on particular fields of description, including the Creator/Contributor field and the Contents field.  We will also receive a demonstration of methods that have been used to export metadata collected in Swallow for web design and presentation of audio collections.

SpokenWeb Words and Music Show

Date and Time: Sunday, July 19, 8 pm EDT
Venue: Zoom (link to be sent to the network via email)
Offered by: Ian Ferrier (host of Words and Music), and Jason Camlot for participation of all interested SpokenWeb team members

Description: For the past three months, Ian Ferrier, host for twenty years (and running) monthly Words and Music Show, and the 2019 SW Curator in Residence, has collaborated with Jason Camlot (Director of SpokenWeb) in running the online version of the Words and Music Show.  While Words and Music usually takes a vacation in the month of July, Ian has graciously agreed to run a special SpokenWeb edition of the Words and Music show, open to SW team members only.  Think of this as a virtual cabaret, variety show, open mic, and team party.  All members  are invited to sign up to deliver a set of 3-5 minutes that may be a poetry reading, musical performance, visual presentation, pet trick, or anything else you wish to share for the enjoyment of your friends and colleagues across the SpokenWeb network.  Please sign up to perform at the show (signup deadline is midnight 17 July 2020) using this SpokenWeb Words and Music Show Signup Sheet.

Workshop #4: SSI Workshop Sessions - Student Lightning Talks

Offered by: An all SpokenWeb Team event
Date and Time: 22 July 2020, 2pm-5pm EDT
Venue: Zoom (link to be sent to the network via email)

Workshop Description: These sessions of the SSI are designed for student researchers to present ideas, experiences, and research they have been pursuing for feedback and discussion from members of the wider SpokenWeb network. Each presenter will talk for a maximum of five minutes and show a maximum of three slides. Following each “lightning talk,” we will open things up to ten minutes of feedback and discussion by using the chat function of Zoom and by sharing organized spoken comments. Presentations will be loosely clustered into themes or areas of interest, but the main goal is to devote time for feedback following each individual presentation. We will schedule breaks periodically throughout the sessions to provide time for more casual exchanges across zoom (with or without breakout rooms) and/or time to step away from the screen for a few moments. Each set of sessions will be moderated by a student or faculty member whose role will be to keep time, to bring comments from the chat into the conversation, and to call on members of the network to share their ideas and questions with the presenter.

The list of scheduled presenters is as follows:

  • Manami Izawa (Concordia U): Visual Translation—Designing a listening environment as a graphic designer at SpokenWeb
  • Lauren St. Clair (UBCO): TBD
  • Bindu Shankara Reddy and Manami Izawa (Concordia U): SpokenWeb Timeline Design as Circuitry: Collaborative design project by using analogue and digital electricity.
  • Sadie Barker (Concordia U): Noise in Postcolonial Literature
  • Andrew Roberge (Concordia U): Spoken Word (in the Words and Music archive?)
  • Amy Thiessen (UBCO): Audio Digitization and Badgr
  • Yasaman Lotfizadeh (UBCO): Concept to Completion Badgr
  • Ahlam Bavi (UBCO): Digital Arts and Humanities Research
  • Ali Barillaro (Concordia U): Practice to Paper: Listening to Horror Sounds
  • Emma Telaro (Concordia U):  Fleabag as Confessionalism (OR Podcasting Margaret Atwood)
  • Stacey Copeland (SFU): Queer Feminist Radio and Podcasting
  • Klara du Plessis (Concordia U): Questions surrounding Deep Curation

AudiAnnotate Workshop

Offered by: Tanya Clement (U Texas at Austin), Brumfield Labs, AVinDH SIG, DH2020 online
Date and Time: Wednesday, July 22, 2020 11-1pm EDT
Venue:  For more information and registration, please go to

Registrants will be sent a zoom link on the day of the workshop.

This virtual, introductory workshop will include basic information about the AudiAnnotate project including using IIIF and the IIIF specifications for AV. We will share how to use Audacity to annotate audio files and to use the AudiAnnotate tool with Jekyll and GitHub to manage editing and publishing IIIF manifests and annotations for audio collections.

SpokenWeb DH2020 Sessions

Offered by: SpokenWeb DH2020 Conference Participants
Date and Time: Thursday 23 July 2020, 4pm-7pm EDT
Venue: https://concordia-ca.zoom.us/j/3772249115

Session 1 (4 pm-5 pm EDT)

Moderator: Michael O'Driscoll (U Alberta)

Title: Dynamic Systems for Humanities Audio Collections: The Theory and Rationale of Swallow (25 Minutes)

Presenters: Jason Camlot, Tomasz Neugebauer, Francisco Berrizbeitia (Concordia U)

This paper approaches a system that has been designed, and continues to be in development, for the aggregation of metadata surrounding collections of documentary literary sound recordings, as an object for theoretical and practical discussion of how information about diverse collections of time-based media should be managed, and what such schema and system development means for our engagement with the contents of such collections as artifacts of humanist inquiry.  Swallow (Swallow Metadata Management System 2019), the interoperable spoken-audio metadata ingest system project that is the boundary object for this talk, emerged out of the goals of the SpokenWeb SSHRC Partnership Grant research network to digitize, process, describe, and aggregate the metadata of a diverse range of sound collections documenting literary and cultural activity in Canada since the 1950s.  Our talk, collaboratively written and delivered by a literary scholar and critical theorist, a digital projects and systems development librarian, and a library developer / programmer, outlines 1) a theoretical rationale for the audiotext as a significant form of data in the humanities, 2) consequent modes of description deemed necessary to render such data useful for humanities scholars, and 3) a rationale for the development of a specific form of database system given the material and systems contexts that inform our national holdings of documentary literary sound recordings at the present time.

Title: Queering the Tape Recorder: Transforming Surveillance Technologies through bill bissett’s Queer Poetic Voice (10 Minutes)

Presenter: Mathieu Aubin (Concordia U)

This presentation reports on my preliminary analyses of a digitized collection of literary audio recordings featuring poetry readings by Canadian sound poet bill bissett. As Canadian literary communities adopted audio recording technologies as part of their cultural practices during the 1960s, bissett developed a unique relationship to the tape recorder. At the time, the RCMP used this technology to listen to queer people’s conversations, including those of bissett, document their activities, and regulate their sexuality in order to ensure the nation’s heterosexual status quo. In the poet’s tape recordings ranging from the 1960s-1980s, we hear bissett read poetry theorizing this queer surveillance, documenting his lived experiences as a gay man, and fighting for sexual liberation. We also hear sonic traces of the location and social dynamics of the recorded event and the technology used to capture this moment. Until recently, when SpokenWeb began digitizing and making them available to the wider public, these recordings were kept in private collections and had limited circulation. Following the recordings’ recent shift towards digital public circulation, this presentation considers how listening to bissett’s queer tape recordings in SpokenWeb’s digital archive amplifies his voice, forges queer ways of listening to literary audio, and fosters new public dialogue about Canada’s gay history.

Title: Stop Words (5 Minutes)

Presenter: Klara Du Plessis (Concordia U)

STOP WORDS is a set of five short poems based on five sets of commonly used stop words gleaned from topic modelling and computational literary studies: articles, pronouns, prepositions, conjugations of to be, and negation. The reading of each poem is recorded and each audio file is transformed using a variety of sound wave visualization softwares, resulting in five visual poems or images. These images function as interpretative graphical material, visualizing literature as simultaneously scientifically accurate, quantitative, and highly affective, qualitative, diagrams. At its broadest, Stop Words is also an intervention in the Humanities / Digital Humanities schismatic debate, digitally supplementing the traditional verbal dimension of poetry while celebrating an interpretative, subjective digitally generated product. Stop Words engages closely with Johanna Drucker's research on qualitative statistical representation.

SHORT BREAK with optional breakout room conversation (5pm - 5:15pm EDT)

Session 2 (5:15 pm - 7 pm EDT)

Moderator and Timekeeper: Jason Camlot (Concordia U)

Title: Ethical Soundings in Collaborative Digital Humanities Research Projects: Critical Scenarios from The SpokenWeb


(1) Jason Camlot, Professor and Research Chair in Literature and Sound Studies, Concordia University;

(2) Tanya Clement, Associate Professor, Digital Humanities and English, University of Texas;

(3) Klara du Plessis, Doctoral Candidate, English, Concordia University;

(4) Liz Fisher, Doctoral Candidate, Digital Humanities and English, University of Texas;

(5) Deanna Fong, Postdoctoral Fellow in Literature and Oral History, Concordia University;

(6) Yuliya Kondratenko, SpokenWeb Project Manager, Concordia University;

(7) Emily Murphy, Assistant Professor, Digital Humanities, Department of English and Cultural Studies,

University of British Columbia, Okanagan;

(8) Annie Murray, Associate University Librarian for Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary;

(9) Michael, O’Driscoll, Professor, English and Film Studies, Vice-Dean of Arts, University of Alberta;

(10) Karis Shearer, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies, University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

This panel draws upon recent and ongoing experiences from the interdisciplinary SpokenWeb <www.spokenweb.ca> research programme to consider the range of ethical scenarios that inform this collaborative network’s engagement with audio archives of literary and humanities-oriented sound recordings, and the communities of practice that generated them. We will consider ethical scenarios through specific projects of the SpokenWeb partnership, a research network that aims to develop coordinated and collaborative approaches to literary historical study, digital development, and critical and pedagogical engagement with diverse collections of literary sound recordings from across Canada and beyond. The goals and projects of the SpokenWeb partnership that will serve to focus our discussion of ethical scenarios in large-scale collaborative digital humanities networks include:

  1. rights and access management of digital research data and metadata;
  2. the ethics of archival listening as they pertain to the development of new forms of historical and critical scholarly methods of engagement with the contents of documentary audio archives;
  3. automated techniques and tools for searching, visualizing, analyzing and enhancing critical engagement (for features relevant to humanities research and pedagogy);
  4. pedagogy, training, mentorship and student labor (the organization of roles and relations across the research network);
  5. innovative ways of mobilizing digitized spoken and literary recordings within performative and public contexts;
  6. project management and governance.

For all workshop events, we respectfully acknowledge that Concordia University is located on unceded Indigenous lands, with the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation recognized as the custodians of the lands and waters. Tiohtià:ke/Montréal is historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations. We respect the continued connections with the past, present and future in our ongoing relationships with Indigenous and other peoples within the Montreal community.

The SpokenWeb Sound Institute 2019

The SpokenWeb Sound Institute is a two-day interactive event which will take place on the Burnaby campus of SFU, open to the members of the SpokenWeb network.

It is an opportunity to reflect on the past year, solidify the work of each of the SpokenWeb Task Forces, share tools and knowledge, and plan the year ahead.

For SpokenWeb members who are not yet affiliated with any Task Force, this will great opportunity to see how you might like get involved in 2019-2020.

The SpokenWeb Sound Institute is followed by the inaugural two-day SpokenWeb Symposium, Resonant Practices in Communities of Sound, which takes place at Harbour Centre and Woodwards in downtown Vancouver, May 30-31, 2019. Continue reading about the SpokenWeb Symposium here.

We respectfully acknowledge that SFU is on unceded Coast Salish Territory; the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

We are grateful for the support of SFU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Office of the Vice-President, Research, and the Department of English.

We also wish to thank members of the SFU organizing committee: Rebecca Dowson, Deanna Fong, Jakob Knudsen, Linara Kosolova, Michelle Levy, Cole Mash, Kim O’Donnell, Tony Power, Melissa Salrin. With thanks to Catherine Louie.

Conference Schedule

The program can be downloaded here.



The accommodations we have reserved are at SFU Burnaby. To access the online booking form, please follow this link: https://reservations.its.sfu.ca/resbooking.aspx?source=CONF#topofform and select SFU SpokenWeb  (May/27/2019 to May/31/2019) from the drop-down menu.

We have reserved the following rates/room types:

  • $41.00 per room per night plus tax for Private Residence Rooms (19 available);
  • $100.00 per room per night plus tax for Queen Room (5 available);
  • $128.00 per room per night plus tax for Queen Sofa Room (2 available);
  • $178.00 per unit per night plus tax for a Townhouse unit with a kitchen kit (minimum 2 night stay) (6 available, each with 4 bedrooms and two baths, kitchen and living room area). NOTE: One person has to book the entire Townhouse to be shared between multiple people.
  • More information about each room type can be found here: http://www.sfu.ca/stayhere.html

Guests will be required to provide a valid MasterCard, VISA, or Discover Card during the reservation request process. A reservation is not guaranteed until you receive an email confirmation of the booking (typically within 24-48 hours after the booking request form is submitted). Bookings are not guaranteed and are subject to change.

Upon arrival, you will be asked to show your photo ID and the credit card used at the time of the reservation request.

Guests can adjust or cancel their reservation; you will be required to give a full 24 hours’ notice prior to the arrival date. Reservations cancelled within 24 hours of arrival are subject to a one night charge.

For general questions regarding accommodations on campus, please contact

Check-in/out Time: Guests will check-in at the Residence & Housing Front Desk beginning at 3:00pm on the day of arrival. Check-out time is no later than 11:00am on the day of departure.

Please note the Residence & Housing Front Desk is now open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

The online booking form will be available for this group to make their requests until April 26, 2019. All unrequested held rooms will be released after April 26, 2019. Individuals can still request accommodations using the regular online booking system if space is still available but would be subject to regular season rates.

For any general questions regarding the campus accommodations, please contact Deanna Fong at deannaf@sfu.ca