listening cinematically

25-26 June 2015, Royal Holloway, University of London


What does it mean to listen cinematically? The question runs through many of the foundational texts on music and the moving image (from Gorbman’s Unheard Melodies to Chion’s Audio‐Vision, Cook’s Analysing Musical Multimedia, and Kassabian’s Hearing Film) and has become increasingly topical within the context of a renewed scholarly interest in film audiences, the sensory, and mediation. Yet the nature of cinematic listening - a term first coined by Michael Long in his 2008 monograph Beautiful Monsters -remains difficult to grasp, due to the intrinsic complexity of ‘listening’ as an object of study, and the heterogeneity of cinema as a cultural form.

Taking these problems as topics, and hoping to build towards a better understanding of cinema’s contribution to broader cultures of listening, this conference aims to explore two complementary perspectives on its fundamental research question:

Inside the cinema

We welcome contributions that explore further what listening cinematically might amount to in relation to specific texts, exhibition sites, and production and exhibition technologies in the history of cinema. Do different films require us to listen differently? In what ways and to what extent can a film configure its own aural reception? How have filmmakers at different points in time used sound to activate the space of cinema theatres? Does a new ‘cinema of the senses’ require genuinely new listening paradigms?

Beyond the cinema

We welcome contributions that consider how a cinematic mode of listening might extend beyond film into other audiovisual contexts and everyday situations. Do film viewers adopt similar listening strategies when watching films on smaller screens? How are soundtrack albums listened to? Does it make sense to speak of specifically cinematic forms of audiovisual listening? Is any form of musical suturing intrinsically cinematic?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Research into any aspect of the cinema as a place for listening (e.g. the history of the cinematic apparatus, architecture, and disciplining of audience behaviour)
  • Empirical studies of filmgoers’ listening practices (before, during and/or after the film)
  • Listener‐centred discussions of a particular film, genre, or mode of production
  • Listening to ‘relocated’ and ‘remediated’ films
  • Simulcasts, broadcasts, and on‐screen representations of live music
  • Immersive listening aesthetics outside the cinema

We welcome submissions from musicology, film studies, media studies, cultural studies, sound studies, sociology, philosophy, and other cognate disciplines.

Please email abstracts of about 300 words for individual papers of 20 minutes’ duration. Proposals should be sent by Friday 9 January 2015 to

Programme Committee

Carlo Cenciarelli (Royal Holloway, University of London), chair

Julie Brown (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Miguel Mera (City University London)

Holly Rogers (The University of Liverpool)

Ben Winters (The Open University)