Timothy Murray, Director of the Society for the Humanities, is pleased to announce the 2011-2012 research focal theme: “Sound: Culture, Theory, Practice, Politics.” Six to eight Fellows will be appointed.


The Society for the Humanities invites scholars to reflect this year upon the theme of “Sound: Culture, Theory, Practice, Politics” as a means of analyzing the resonance of historical and contemporary representations, movements, ideas, and negations of sound. Representations of sound abound in visual, textual, and aural realms. Storytelling, poetry, music, theater, oral histories, political speeches, and noise find their way in and out of texts, images, and recordings as various kinds of sound travel through different media. From “voicing” to “listening,” sound shapes the framework of much critical and philosophical analysis of the body, affect, and social publics. How does sound function in establishing parameters of psycho-cultural imaginaries, social practice, religious ritual, and political regulation across the globe? How do manifestations of sound differ in the global context of capitalism and cosmopolitanism, not to mention the specificities of ethnic difference and cultural diversity? How are “voice,” “hearing,” and “listening” defined in various disciplines and in relation to aesthetic properties of the disciplines, such as meter, rhythm, montage, and amplification? What criteria are used for differentiating natural from artificial sounds? Does sound challenge disciplinary distinctions between the visual the oral/aural/tactile? Can the loud noises of industrial culture be distinguished from the synthetic sounds of electronic music, the stammerings of performance and philosophical manifestos, and the burps and sighs of the comics and cinematic sound tracks? Beyond music’s embodiment of sound as artistic form, applicants are welcome to consider the broader sense of sonic environments, the role of silence in private and public space and performance, and the ways in which sound underlies life itself (the “pink noise” of earthquakes and ocean currents) as well as the negative sense of pollution (environment) or weapon (torture and warfare). Possible topics might include the use of sound to mark the passage of time; the correlation of sound to the movement of the body in dance and performance; deafness and disability studies; the sonic promise of sonic cartographic projects of social movements and migrations. Of equal import are the cultural impact of the electronic and digital age and the harmonious collusion of the virtual and the visceral in internet-driven communities. Fellows might also consider sound’s importance to visual studies, the cultural and ethnic specificity of acoustic fields and rhythms in the age of sampling and mixing, and the gender import of voice and spoken narrative. This interdisciplinary invitation is open to study of the broadest cross-cultural range of contexts and media that cross the boundaries of time and space, from East and West/South and North.


Fellows should be working on topics related to the year’s theme. Their approach to the humanities should be broad enough to appeal to students and scholars in several humanistic disciplines. Applicants must have received the Ph.D. degree before January 1, 2010. The Society for the Humanities will not consider applications from scholars who received the Ph.D. after this date. Applicants must also have one or more years of teaching experience which may include teaching as a graduate student.


The following application materials must be postmarked on or before October 1, 2010. Faxed applications will not be accepted. 1. A curriculum vitae and a copy of one scholarly paper no more than 35 pages in length. Applicants who wish to have their materials returned should enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. 2. A one-page abstract in addition to a detailed statement of the research project the applicant would like to pursue during the term of the fellowship (1,000-3,000 words). Applicants are also encouraged to submit a working bibliography for their projects. 3. A brief (two-page) proposal for a seminar related to the applicant’s research. Seminars meet two hours per week for one semester (fourteen weeks) and enrollment is limited to fifteen graduate students and qualified undergraduate students. 4. Two letters of recommendation from senior colleagues to whom candidates should send their research proposal and teaching proposal. Letters of recommendation should include an evaluation of the candidate’s proposed research and teaching statements. Please ask referees to send their letters directly to the Society.

Letters must be postmarked on or before October 1, 2010. Send 3 copies of the full application and letters of recommendation to:

Program Administrator Society for the Humanities A.D. White House 27 East Ave. Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14853-1101

For further information:

Phone: 607-255-9274



Awards will be announced by the end of December 2010.

Note: Extensions for applications will not be granted. The Society will consider only fully completed applications. It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that ALL documentation is complete, and that referees submit their letters of recommendation to the Society before the closing date. Emailed applications will not be accepted. The Society for the Humanities The Society for the Humanities was established at Cornell University in 1966 to support research and encourage imaginative teaching in the humanities. It is intended to be at once a research institute, a stimulus to educational innovation, and a continuing society of scholars. In addition to promoting research on central concepts, methods or problems in the humanities, the Society for the Humanities seeks to encourage serious and sustained discussion between teachers and learners at all levels of maturity. Fellowships Fellows include scholars from other universities and members of the Cornell faculty released from regular duties. The fellowships are held for one academic year. Each Society Fellow will receive $45,000. Applicants living outside North America are eligible for an additional $2,000 to assist with travel costs.


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