SpokenWeb Symposium 2023 Call for Papers

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The SpokenWeb Research Network (www.spokenweb.ca)  is hosting the 2023 SpokenWeb Research Symposium at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada from May 1-3, 2023. We invite those from inside and outside the Network who engage with sound in their research and/or creative practice to submit paper or panel proposals that respond to the conference theme:

Reverb: Echo-Locations of Sound and Space

Reverb is best known as a guitar amp or sound pedal effect–a technology that intervenes in or shapes the experience of sound. But, in fact, most sound we hear is not “clean” sound but reverberation: waves bouncing off of surfaces in our environment and on our bodies, creating an aural image of the world around us. Sonic experience is mediated and spatialized through reverberation. As our conference theme, Reverb asks us to consider how sound is situated, transformed, and territorialized through physical, cultural, historical, and political spaces. Indeed, reverberation is as much a temporal as a spatial process: a function of difference and deferral across chronotopic auralities. How do the reverberations of sound constitute and delimit the hearable? How do auditory practices and regimes prescribe the nature and extent of reverberation? The tension between “re” and “verb” here invokes the space between language and sound, as explored by a multitude of sound-related fields, including literary and cultural studies, archival and library studies, communication studies, digital humanities, sound design, and sound performance. As both a naturally occurring phenomenon and an artificial effect that can be simulated with human technologies, Reverb also draws attention to the “making” of sound, from recording devices and remediation to embodied technologies of voice and literary performance. The etymological origins of “reverb” in the Latin verberare, as in “to beat, strike, and lash,” also ask us to consider the relationship between sound, violence, and dissent, reminding us that sounds reverberate in contested and politicized spaces, as well as spaces that invite us to reflect, resist, and “sound out” against oppressive power structures.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Situatedness of sound as located in physical, cultural, historical, and political spaces
  • Sound as power: listening strategies that reflect, resist, and “sound out”
  • Making, hearing, and listening to sound as embodied practice
  • Silence, noise, and the sonic spatialization of oppression and dissent
  • Mediation, dislocation, and disembodiment: technologies of despatialization
  • Forms of attunement to sound/space and the positionality of listening practices
  • Reverberation and its relations to reflective, refractive, and resonant listening practices
  • Listening and social justice: soundspaces of equity, diversity, and inclusivity
  • Decolonizing or resurgent listening practices and Indigenous sonic spaces
  • Listening in relation: land, community, and ways of knowing
  • Sound abilities and critical disability justice: audibility, accessibility, and listening
  • Intersectionality: sound/space across identities and channels of privilege
  • Mobility, movement, migration and the experience of sound in motion
  • Literary sound and literary space: the acoustics of the text across genres
  • Off the page and on the stage: the soundscapes of literary performance
  • Eco-locations of sound: sonic landscapes, animalities, ecologies
  • Climate crisis, noise pollution, and sound in changing environments
  • Architectures, geographies, environments, and topologies of sound
  • Technologies of sound in voice/speech and poetry performance
  • The measurement of sound and its physical characteristics as a spatialized experience
  • Sonification or the expression of data through sound
  • The analysis, transmission, and encoding of sound through computational techniques
  • Making sound: sound labs, maker spaces, and other hands-on, DIY approaches
  • Delimiting the hearable: processing, archiving, and analysis


In addition to research papers, we welcome creative formats, including research creation, performances, technological demonstrations, and other forms of innovative sharing. We will consider full proposals for pre-organized sessions, including interactive approaches such as lightning rounds, Pecha Kucha presentations, roundtables, soundtables, listening sessions, and workshops.

In order to better accommodate and be inclusive of those who face barriers to travel, participants will have the option to present either in-person or virtually (via live or pre-recorded video).

Individual panel presentations will be between 15-20 minutes in length. Paper proposals (maximum 250 words) should identify the title and explain the argument, methodology, object(s) of analysis, and overall aims of the presentation. The proposal should include a short biographical statement.

Session proposals should supply the names, affiliations, and brief biographical details for all presenters, including title and details of each contribution (maximum length, 750 words). Panel sessions will be 90 minutes in duration, with time for discussion.

Please submit your proposal as a single (compiled) Word or PDF attachment, to sw23@ualberta.ca. Please use Symposium Proposal as the subject header for your email.

Deadline: Thursday, September 1, 2022

About the SpokenWeb Research Network:

SpokenWeb is an interdisciplinary team of literary scholars and digital humanists, librarians and archivists, media historians, sound artists, oral historians, linguists, designers, programmers, poets, musicians, photographers, cultural activists, and performers, focused on preserving, describing, restoring, reviving, performing, reshaping, and re-imagining archives of literary sound, and literary and archival practice. The 2023 Symposium is hosted by the University of Alberta SpokenWeb team, enthusiastic partners in the SpokenWeb network.