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Article accepted to American Quarterly

posted Apr 29, 2011, 9:22 AM by Mack Hagood   [ updated Apr 29, 2011, 10:13 AM ]
I recently submitted revisions for an article to appear in a special sound-related issue of American Quarterly, due out in the fall. In "QuietComfort: Noise, Otherness, and the Mobile Production of Personal Space,” I explore the use of noise-cancelling headphones as soundscaping devices that render a sense of personal space, particularly in the course of air travel. The airport and airplane, I argue, are spaces that reveal the contradictory nature of neoliberal capitalism, as everyone pursues his or her individualistic freedom at once, resulting in crowding and delays. Rather than confront the illusory nature of individualism and attend to the ways our lives and bodies are enmeshed with those of others, we often use sound media to tune out the "noise" of those around us. Looking closely at marketing and reviews for Bose QuietComfort headphones, I show how users and "noisemakers" are positioned in terms of differences such as class, gender, and race. Noise, I argue, is othered sound--sound that subjects refuse to integrate into themselves.