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Urban Rhythms Network

This network builds on recent scholarly interest from across the humanities and social sciences to form an interdisciplinary hub at Oxford for the study of auditory culture within the modern urban environment (post-1850). We are interested in investigating ways in which sound and music can enhance our understanding of urban design and experience—both historically and in the present—and how sound and music can contribute to a theorisation and history of the modern city. The network’s timely aim, then, is to draw together people working on sonic and spatial studies in various disciplines under the banner of ‘urban humanities’—an important new scholarly field.

The project’s scope is twofold. On the one hand, it is historically-oriented: through the metaphor of urban rhythmic patterns we hope to unveil the changing socioeconomic realities of urban spaces over the last century and a half, and how these resurfaced in creative ways among authors, painters, composers, singers, filmmakers, etc. On the other hand, the network will also engage with our modern predicament. We believe that the sonic culture of our present owes much to our urban past. While we hope that Urban Rhythms will lead to a new wave of collaborative scholarly analysis and research, we also want to draw this academic endeavour into an engagement with our local environment. What is the politics of sound in the city? How can understanding the relationship between sound and the city historically aid future city development and design?

The network will primarily comprise a series of workshops and reading groups. If you are interested in being involved in the network, would like to bring your work to our attention, or you would simply like to find out more, please get in touch with the network coordinators Dr Lola San Martín Arbide, Dr Harriet Boyd-Bennett and Professor Laura Marcus at urbanrhythms@torch.ox.ac.uk