19 March 2021 / Grants and Awards

Feminist Sound Design

Julie Rose Bower (PhD student, Department of Drama, QMUL) received one of our Covid-19 Support Grants last summer to further her doctoral research. She writes for us here:

In August 2020 the Society for Theatre Research supported my project to create a feminist sound design library to support my doctoral research in the Department of Drama at QMUL. The idea for creating this feminist sound design library was partly due to the barriers to this research – firstly the lack of texts directly addressing this intersection of the disciplines of sound and gender studies and secondly the closure of libraries and the trickiness of sharing resources through mutual aid in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. I had already begun the critical reading aspect of my research and this grant has enabled me to not only expand my reading practice but to develop a distinct resource in its own right in the form of the feminist sound library which will be a shortlist drawn from my PhD project’s bibliography at its conclusion in 2023.


My practice-based project ‘This is what a feminist sounds like, performed sound design from Foley to ASMR’ involves the creation of new work and also a written thesis that proposes an alternative history of theatrical sound and its cyberfeminist future. This grant has allowed me to buy books, develop my bibliography, engage in deep reading and stay abreast of the rapidly developing discourse of feminist thought and sound studies. The grant was timely and has allowed me to engage with feminist writing that has been published very recently and which would otherwise have been inaccessible to me such as Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russell (Verso, 2020) and Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form by Sianne Ngai (2020, Harvard University Press). The recent archiving of cyberfeminism by Mindy Seu through the New Museum in New York has been a boon to my project and the feminist sound design library includes core texts such as ‘Zeroes and Ones’ by Sadie Plant and Katharine Hayles ‘How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics’ to support my engagement with these significant online resources. I have obtained texts relevant to sound studies – Marie Thompson, Vanessa Theme Ament, Christine Eyene; texts specific to theatre sound – Lynne Kendrick, Mladen Ovadija; and texts relating to feminist and queer critical discourse within theatre and performance – Sue-Ellen Case, Donna Haraway, Judith Butler.


The image above is of the feminist sound design library as it currently stands, including books I already owned which informed the project’s genesis, books purchased with the support of the STR and the continuation of the library as it grows. STR funds purchased 10 full-priced books, a significant contribution. These texts will support my work far into the future. I look forward to updating the STR towards the end of my project with a full bibliography in 2022 and I would like to thank the STR now as I will do formally in my final thesis.


Is there anything that you are currently working on that might be eligible for one of our Research Grants? We welcome applications from all kinds of theatre researchers – academics, practitioners, independent scholars. Closing date for 2021 applications is March 26th.
Full details and application form here.