More about our Plenary Talks

Please join us for our two plenary sessions:

Plenary Session I
Friday April 29 5-7pm (Humanities Institute 106)

Emma Dillon (King’s College London): “Sound History and the Comedy of Absence”
Stefan Helmreich (MIT)
: For and Against Sound: Cosmic Waveforms, Cochlear Implant Music, and Hearing Humans”

Plenary Session II
Saturday April 30 5-7pm (Wang Center Lecture Hall 1)
Alexander Rehding (Harvard University): “Three Music Theory Lessons 1999 – 1518 – 1834”
Emily Thompson (Princeton University)
: “Sound Practice: Hybrid Technologies in the American Film Industry, 1926-1933”


Sound @ Stony Brook & UCLA

Excited to report that we will be partnering with the organizers of UCLA’s Inertia:Momentum: A Conference on Sound, Media, and the Digital Humanities on April 29; our Friday afternoon “Immersion” panel (Chair: Robert Crease), will be streaming live at UCLA (as part of an alternate format session), as will our evening plenary session (plenary speakers: Emma Dillon, King’s College London & Stefan Helmreich, MIT). Stay tuned for updates!

Abstracts up

The conference organizers are so excited about the rich lineup of papers for Periods and Waves—you can access a PDF of the abstracts here, or a more condensed list of the panels here.

Registration Open (with Room-mate Finder Option)!

Registration is now open for Periods and Waves: A Conference on Sound and History. Whether you are a presenter or simply someone interested in attending, we would appreciate it if you register with us by April 22 (the earlier the better!) so that we can be sure to provide enough seating, as well as sufficient refreshment at our coffee breaks and receptions. To access the registration site, click here. Registration is FREE.

NEW: When you register, you will be given the option of selecting whether or not you would be interested in sharing your hotel room with a fellow attendee, as well as indicating any preferences you have in that regard.

For hotel rates, info about the conference discount, etc., see here.

(Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY—April 29–30, 2016)

This event is free and open to the public.

Emma Dillon (Professor of Music, King’s College London)
Stefan Helmreich (Professor of Anthropology, MIT)
Alexander Rehding (Professor of Music, Harvard University)
Emily Thompson (Professor of History, Princeton University)


Sound, like history, describes a dynamic terrain. Scholars concerned with the convergence of sound and history have, in the wake of the “sensory turn” in the humanities, worked to generate clear narratives from data that resists fixity, that seems to be in constant motion. The shared aims of sound studies and history have yielded a rich body of scholarship that interrogates, for example, the noisy illuminations of medieval songbooks, acoustic control in modern architecture, sound and the moving image, accounts of deafness and synaesthesia, and the production of aural subjects through consumer technology. The practice of thinking sound historically and history sonically is driving the growth of fresh methodologies and compelling new interpretations of sources.

Periods and Waves: A Conference on Sound and History is co-organized by the Department of Music, Department of Philosophy, and the School of Health Technology & Management at Stony Brook University, with the aim of bringing together humanities scholars and humanistic scientists, particularly those working in sound studies. In addition to two plenary sessions, featuring renowned scholars speaking about their work and engaging in a Q&A, the conference features thirty-minute papers from researchers in the myriad disciplines that investigate past aural cultures, including musicology, ethnomusicology, history, anthropology, medical history, art history, philosophy, religion, disability studies, acoustics, and sound studies.

If you have any questions, or would like to be added to our email list, please contact Erika Honisch ( or Benjamin Tausig (

Banner Image courtesy of Martin Honisch