Ep. 18: Screwed and Chopped (Re-cast)

Today we re-cast one of our favorite episodes, an interview with folklorist and Houston native Langston Collin Wilkins, who studies “slab” culture and the “screwed and chopped” hip hop that rattles the slabs and serves as the culture’s soundtrack. Since the 1990s, many of Houston’s African American residents have customized cars and customized the sound...

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Ep. 17: The Sounds of Silents

What did going to the movies sound like back in the “silent film” era? The answer takes us on a strange journey through Vaudeville, roaming Chautauqua lectures, penny arcades, nickelodeons, and grand movie palaces. As our guest In today’s episode, pioneering scholar of film sound, Rick Altman, tells us, the silent era has a lot...

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Ep. 16: Soar and Chill (Robin James)

Why do certain musical sounds move us while others leave us cold? Are musical trends simply that—or do they contain insights into the culture at large? Our guest is a musicologist who studies pop and electronic dance music. She’s fascinated by the way EDM privileges timbral and rhythmic complexity over the chord changes and harmonic...

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Ep. 15: Goth Diss (Anna M. Williams)

With My Gothic Dissertation, University of Iowa PhD Anna M. Williams has transformed the dreary diss into a This American Life-style podcast. Williams’ witty writing and compelling audio production allow her the double move of making a critical intervention into the study of the gothic novel, while also making an entertaining and thought-provoking series for non-experts. Williams uses...

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Ep. 14: Resonant Grains (Craig Eley on Carleen Hutchins)

In the 1950s, a schoolteacher named Carleen Hutchins attempted a revolution in how concert violins are made. In this episode, Craig Eley of the Field Noise podcast tells us how this amateur outsider used 18th century science to disrupt the all-male guild tradition of violin luthiers. Would the myth of the never-equaled Stradivarius violin prove...

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Ep 13: Jams Bond (cris cheek)

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Ep. 12: A Book Unbound (Jacob Smith)

What would it be like if scholars presented their research in sound rather than in print? Better yet, what if we could hear them in the act of their research and analysis, pulling different historical sounds from the archives and rubbing them against one another in an audio editor? In today’s episode, we get to...

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