This Friday I'll be giving the lecture at the IU Department of Communication and Culture's Virginia Gunderson Colloquium. Each year, the graduate student deemed by the committee to have written the best paper of the preceding academic year gives the talk. I've been to the past three Gunderson Colloquia and they were fantastic, so I'm hoping to live up to that high standard. My talk will be based upon my paper, "Quiet Comfort: Noise, Otherness, and the Production of Personal Space." The talk will be this Friday, September 16th at 4p.m. in IU's Classroom Office Building, Room 100. Everyone is welcome!
ABSTRACT: Marketing, news reports, and reviews of Bose QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones position them as essential gear for the mobile rational actor of the neoliberal market—the business traveler. This article concerns noise-canceling headphones’ utility as soundscaping devices, which render a sense of personal space by mediating sound. The airplane and airport are paradoxical spaces in which the pursuit of freedom impedes its own enjoyment. Rather than fight the discomforts of air travel as a systemic problem, travelers use the tactic of soundscaping to suppress the perceived presence of others. Attention to soundscaping enables the scholar to explore relationships between media, space, freedom, otherness, and selfhood in an era characterized by neoliberalism and increased mobility.