Symposium on Sound, Rhetoric, and Writing

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Eric Detweiler / Middle Tennessee State University
contact email: 

We invite proposals for the first-ever Symposium on Sound, Rhetoric, and Writing, to be held in the cities of Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Sept. 7 & 8, 2018. From Belmont University’s Gallery of Iconic Guitars to historic recording studios like Ocean Way, from Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Popular Music to its Department of Recording Industry, these two cities are home to a wealth of sound culture and music history, making them a fitting place for a gathering of sonically inclined rhetoric and writing scholars.


Over the past decade, sound has become an increasingly popular topic for rhetoric and writing scholars working in both English and communication (see Gunn et al.). Rhetoric and writing scholars have approached sound from a number of angles, often in ways that resonate with interdisciplinary fields like sound studies and disability studies. This work has appeared across print-based and digital journals in the field, frequently gathered in special issues like enculturation’s “Writing/Music/Culture” (1999), Computers & Composition and C&C Online’s “Sound in/as Compositional Space” (2006), Currents in Electronic Literacy’s “Writing With Sound” (2011), and Harlot’s “Sonic Rhetorics” (2013).


This symposium aims to provide a dedicated space for rhetoric and writing scholars to present and discuss scholarship focused on sound. While we invite a wide range of proposals that take up expansive conceptions of “sound,” “rhetoric,” and “writing,” we offer the following as potential starting points:


  • Sounding out the disciplinary relationships between rhetoric, writing, and sound studies

  • Sound and/as accessibility

  • Listening as a rhetorical practice

  • How histories of rhetoric, writing, and composition can speak to current studies of sound

  • Sonic archives and the history of sound

  • Rhetorical aspects of/approaches to sonic environments

  • The possibilities of sound as a scholarly medium/mode

  • The relationship of sound to other media/modes/modalities

  • Interdisciplinary possibilities for rhetorical work on sound

  • Voice as a sonic phenomenon

  • Empirically and/or theoretically informed approaches to integrating sound into rhetoric and/or writing classrooms


We anticipate a relatively small symposium (<100 attendees), and we encourage submissions that will maximize the number of participating voices—roundtables and dialogue-based sessions, for example. While senior scholars are welcome to propose more traditional presentations, we especially encourage them to consider collaborative proposals and presentational formats that also involve junior scholars and/or graduate students. In addition to traditional presentations, we encourage the proposal of experimental, performative work. This work might include (but is not limited to):


  • Short (5-10 minute) pieces of pre-produced audio scholarship

  • Short films or documentaries that explore some aspect of sonic experience

  • Soundscapes

  • Musical or other creative-critical sonic compositions/performances

  • Sonic games that take advantage of the affordances of locative or related media

  • Gallery-style installations that blur the line between scholarship and sound art


A note on the installation option: depending on the volume of installation submissions we receive, some portion of the symposium will be set aside for participants to tour a gallery of accepted installations with their creators on hand for Q&A.


While collaborative proposals are encouraged, individual proposals are welcome. The deadline for proposals is December 15, 2017. Individual proposals are limited to 500 words. Roundtable or other collaborative proposals are limited to 1,250 words. No more than two proposals per person. Due to the time constraints of a symposium, anyone who has two proposals accepted will be expected to choose only one of them to present at the symposium. Submit proposals by visiting Proposers will be notified of organizers’ decisions by March 1, 2018. Additional questions about the symposium should be sent to


An audio version of this CFP is available at


Symposium Organizers

Steph Ceraso (University of Virginia)

Eric Detweiler (Middle Tennessee State University)

Joel Overall (Belmont University)

Jon Stone (University of Utah)