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Home Activities Distinguished Lectures [ONLINE] Gascia Ouzounian: "Acoustic defence and technologies of listening during the First World War"

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[ONLINE] Gascia Ouzounian: "Acoustic defence and technologies of listening during the First World War"

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The rebroadcast of a Distinguished Lecture by a guest from University of Oxford (UK) followed by an online live discussion with Prof. Ouzounian herself.

  • Distinguished Lecture
When Feb 25, 2021
from 05:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Online (link coming soon)
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Gascia Ouzounian

About the event

This session will feature the rebroadcast of the lecture presented by Gascia Ouzounian on May 9, 2019 followed by a one-hour live discussion with Prof. Ouzounian herself. The main goal is to revisit the topic, and then, in the discussion that will follow, evaluate what has changed since the research was first presented. Participants are encouraged to submit their questions and comments in the chat of the platform used.

To access the event:

CIRMMT FUNDING ELIGIBILITY REMINDER: CIRMMT student members should note that attendance at Distinguished Lectures is necessary to fulfill the eligibility requirements for funding opportunities. Attendance will be tracked via sign-up sheets for in-person events, and the chat of the online meeting platform used. 


During the First World War new forms of warfare necessitated new methods of acoustic defense: tracking the enemy through listening. Referencing now-declassified military reports, military manuals and scientific literature from this period, this talk investigates the development of WWI-era acoustic defence technologies, including geophones, double trumpet sound locators, acoustic goniometers, the Baillaud paraboloïde and the Perrin télésitemetre. It examines new modes of listening that emerged in relation to these devices; it further uncovers historical phenomena like the establishment of Écoles d’écoute, “Schools of Hearing” where Allied soldiers received training in operating acoustic defence technologies. It argues that, during this period, the listening act was reconfigured as a complex, fragmented act of data collection in ways that prefigured modern notions of “machine listening.” Similarly, directional listening, which had previously been studied in terms of perceptual psychology, was newly understood in strategic terms: a tactical activity that could determine human and even national survival.


Gascia Ouzounian is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Stereophonica: Sound and Space in Science, Technology, and the Arts (MIT Press 2020). This book examines the history of auditory and acoustic spatiality over the last two hundred years, from early psychological studies in auditory space perception to sonic warfare, stereo reproduction, sound installation art, sound mapping, and sonic urbanism. Gascia is currently directing SONCITIES, a 5-year, €2 million project funded by the European Research Council that brings together sound artists, architects, and urban designers in investigating sonic urban practice. She holds degrees in violin performance and music technologies from McGill University and critical studies/experimental practices in music from the University of California, San Diego.

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