#SC4: The SpokenWeb Panel
The SpokenWeb: Collaborative Approaches to Literary Historical Study and Digital Development
1University of Texas at Austin; 2University of Toronto; 3University of Alberta; 4Concordia University
Since the introduction of sound recording technologies in the 1890s and the 1950s with the introduction of portable tape recording, writers and artists have been documenting their performances. Yet, most of these audio archives remain inaccessible or in peril of decay, or, if digitized, are still largely disconnected from each other. The SpokenWeb partnership is developing a coordinated and collaborative approach to literary historical study, digital development, and critical and pedagogical engagement with diverse collections of spoken recordings from across Canada and beyond. These approaches include 1) new forms of historical and critical scholarly engagement; 2) digital preservation and aggregation techniques, asset management and infrastructure to support sustainable access; 3) techniques and tools for searching, visualizing, analyzing and enhancing critical engagement; and 4) innovative ways of mobilizing digitized spoken and literary recordings within pedagogical, performative and public contexts. This panel comprises four SpokenWeb collaborators who will speak for 10 minutes each on these four approaches.
Speaker 1: A rationale of audio texts that takes into consideration how spoken word recordings can be understood in terms of feminist approaches for considering developing information infrastructures can help us reimagine the role audio can play in feminist DH scholarship. Using extant recordings in the Anne Sexton Collection at the Harry Ransom Center, including personal tapes of Sexton's therapy sessions, Speaker 1 reconsiders how a rationale of audio textuality helps us understand the nature of feminist DH in textual and literary studies more broadly.
Speakers 2 & 3: Critics of modernist literature have long noted the divergent uses of dialect, employed by some modernists (generally, white) as a liberating means of challenging linguistic norms, while confronting others (generally, non-white) as a constraining hinderance. In this presentation, Speakers 2 & 3 analyze recent audio readings of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Jean Toomer’s Cane to explore what tools of computational sound analysis such as Gentle and Drift can tell us about contemporary performance of modernist dialect.
Speaker 4: Digital humanities researchers who engage with digital literary audio have unique requirements for access and preservation systems. Available systems are ill-equipped at meeting their needs for metadata and content aggregation, digital asset management, and digital preservation. In this presentation, Speaker 4 discusses the development of a metadata scheme and repository system for preserving, presenting, and engaging with digital literary audio as part of the SpokenWeb project.
Speaker 5: This paper approaches literary audio collections in terms of the relationship between sound and signal, and how digital, visual sound signals may invite us to focus on the sounds we are trained not to hear. In curating a selection of audio from the visible signal, this paper asks where the digital sound signal takes us in listening to a documented literary event, and hypothesizes that it leads us past semantics, past speech, to a new audible and conceptual encounter with voice.