Communication Department Symposium with Mack Hagood

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Denison University’s Communication Department Symposium welcomes Mack Hagood, an assistant professor of Comparative Media Studies at Miami University, presenting, “Beats, Bose, and the Politics of Headphones.”

Noise-cancelling headphones are among the most popular—and least studied—media technologies. Originally designed to enhance pilots’ ability to communicate in the cockpit, they are now used by millions in order to—as Beats Electronics’ marketing puts it— “hear what you want.” Why has this practice become so widespread? Could it have anything to do with the difficulty we have listening across political and identity differences? In this talk, Hagood traces the desire for sonic self-control, from the Greek myth of Orpheus to Beats-wearing NFL activist Colin Kaepernick.

Hagood is Robert H. and Nancy J. Blayney Assistant Professor of Comparative Media Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He does ethnographic and historiographic research in digital media, sound technologies, disability, and popular music. He is author of Hush: Media and Sonic Self-Control (Duke UP, 2019) and his work has appeared in venues such as American Quarterly, Cinema Journal, and Disability Media Studies. He is producer and co-host of the podcast Phantom Power.

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