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Canceling Noise with Mack Hagood

Part of our Spring 2023 Humanities Forum


Library and Gallery, Albin O. Kuhn : Gallery

Date & Time

April 19, 2023, 4:00 pm5:30 pm


Canceling Noise: Dreams and Dangers

Mack Hagood, Associate Professor, Media and Communication, Miami University, Ohio

As evidenced by the myth of the Sirens, western culture has long perceived noise as a threat to the autonomy and agency of the self. Today, technologies like noise-canceling headphones and algorithmic newsfeeds promise to fulfill the dream of protecting the self by controlling what sounds and information we hear. Yet hearing what we want can carry its own dangers. In this talk, sound scholar Mack Hagood presents a cultural history of noise and its control, listening in to noisy moments in Ancient Rome, Victorian England, colonial West Africa, and the contemporary United States. Noise has been a nuisance, a hazard, a tool, a musical resource, and even a way of thinking that has reshaped our relations to one another in modernity. Today, thinking sonically can offer important insights into how we cope in a hyper-mediated world.

Biography: Mack Hagood is Associate Professor of Media and Communication at Miami University, Ohio, where he studies technologies of sound and listening. He is the author of Hush: Media and Sonic Self-Control (Duke University Press). His writing has appeared in The Atlantic and The Washington Post and he has been interviewed in media outlets such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Pitchfork, BBC Radio, and Freakonomics Radio. He is the executive producer and host of Phantom Power, a podcast about sound.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Media and Communication Studies.

Image description: A white man with short gray hair and blue eyes is smiling at the camera. He has on a light blue collared shirt.

UMBC is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all students, staff, and visitors. If you would like to request a disability-based accommodation on site or have questions about this event or its location, please contact us at dreshercenter@umbc.edu.