Photographer: onbekend

dr. C.J. (Carolyn) Birdsall

  • Faculty of Humanities
    Capaciteitsgroep Media & Cultuur
  • Visiting address
    BG 1
    Turfdraagsterpad 9  Room number: 1.01E
  • Postal address:
    Turfdraagsterpad  9
    1012 XT  Amsterdam
    T: 0205252981
    T: 0205252980


Carolyn Birdsall is Assistant Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam. Birdsall studied at the University of New South Wales (History and Media/Communications) and Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, before completing a doctorate at the University of Amsterdam. Her monograph, Nazi Soundscapes (AUP, 2012) was the recipient of the ASCA Book Award 2013. 

In her current research, Birdsall investigates the early history of sound archiving in European broadcasting, with a related interest in concepts of "documentary sound" in early radio and sound film. Part of this new work has appeared in: "Sound in Media Studies: Archiving and the Construction of Sonic Heritage," in Sound as Popular Culture (MIT Press, 2016).

Recent news / upcoming events

News: visiting researcher, International Institute for Social History (Feb.-Jul. 2018)  
Upcoming: Open Set Lab: Memory of the Future, invited talk (27 Jan. 2018)
Upcoming: Betwixt and Between: Sound in the Humanities and Sciences, invited talk (16 Feb. 2018
Upcoming: Activating the Archive: EYE international conference, panel (26-29 May 2018)
New Publication: "Capturing Commemoration: Using Mobile Recordings within Memory Research," co-authored article in Mobile Media & Communication (open access)


> Monographs / Edited Volumes

Nazi Soundscapes: Sound, Technology and Urban Space in Germany, 1933-1945. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012.

Recipient of the ASCA Book Award 2013

Rethinking Theories of Television Sound. Special Issue of Journal of Sonic Studies 3 (2012) [Co-edited with Anthony Enns].
Inside Knowledge: (Un)doing Ways of Knowing in the Humanities. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009 [Co-edited with Maria Boletsi, Pieter Verstraete and Itay Sapir].
Sonic Mediations: Body, Sound, Technology. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008 [Co-edited with Anthony Enns].


> Chapters / Articles (selection since 2013)

“Sound and Media Studies: Archiving and the Construction of Sonic Heritage” in Sound as Popular Culture, edited by Jens Gerrit Papenburg and Holger Schulze. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016. 133-148.
“Listening to the Mind: Tracing the Auditory History of Mental Illness in Archives and Exhibitions” (with Manon Parry and Viktoria Tkaczyk).  The Public Historian 37.4 (2015): 47-72.
“Can We Invent a Field Called Radio Preservation Studies?” in FLOW: Online Journal of Media and TV Studies, 2015.
“Resounding City Films: Vertov, Ruttmann and Early Experiments with Documentary Sound Aesthetics” in  Music and Sound in Documentary Film, edited by Holly Rogers. New York: Routledge, 2015. 21-41.
"Sound Aesthetics and the Global Imagination in German Media Culture around 1930" in  Sounds of Modern History: Auditory Cultures in 19th and 20th Century Europe, edited by Daniel Morat. New York: Berghahn, 2014. 256-277.
"Sound" in OUP Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, edited by Michael Kelly. New York: Oxford UP, 2014. 23-27.
"Forum: The Senses" (with Jan-Frieder Missfelder, Daniel Morat and Corine Schleif). German History 32.2 (2014): 256-273.
"Sonic Artefacts: Reality Codes of Urbanity in Early German Radio Documentary" in Soundscapes of the Urban Past: Staged Sound as Mediated Cultural Heritage, edited by Karin Bijsterveld. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2013. 129-168.
"(In)audible Frequencies: Sounding out the Contemporary Branded City" in Paris-Amsterdam Underground: Essays on Cultural Resistance, Subversion,and Diversion, edited by Christoph Lindner & Andrew Hussey. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013. 115-131.
"Die Orchestrierung urbaner Akustik: dokumentarische Form, akustische Medien und die moderne Stadt" in  Ton: Texte zur Akustik im Dokumentarfilm, edited by Volko Kamensky & Julian Rohrhuber. Berlin: Vorwerk 8, 2013. 76-97.
"Of Sound Mind: Mental Distress and Sound in Twentieth-Century Media Culture" (with Senta Siewert). Special Issue: Madness and Media. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis 16.1 (2013).

> Invited Talks and Keynotes (selection since 2015)

Invited talk, “Transnational Perspectives on Radio Archiving in Europe,” Transnational Media workshop, Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (14 Dec. 2017)
Invited talk: “Radio Archives as Conflict Heritage”, University of Wroclaw (17 Oct. 2017)
Invited talk: “Authentic Sounds? Hans Flesch‘s Radio Archive between Original and Approximation”, University of Cologne (21 Sept. 2017)
Invited talk: “On Listening”, Tropical Dissonance: Decolonizing Knowledge through Ethnographic Archives, KUNCI/Tropenmuseum Amsterdam (6 Jun. 2017)
Invited talk: “Sound Archiving and the Heritage of War”, University of Oxford (4 May 2017)
Invited talk: “Radio Cultures and the Archival Impulse,” Borderline Festival Athens (20 Apr. 2017)
Invited talk, “Listening to the Sounds of the Second World War,” Being Human Festival/British Library (25. Nov. 2016)
Keynote: conference Urban Soundscape of 1945, University of Wroclaw, 18 Nov. 2016, "Bordered Sounds: The Archival Traces of Radio in Silesia" 
Invited talk: Huizinga Institute: Contested Heritage and the Politics of Commemoration, 30 Jul. 2016, "Media Archives as Conflict Heritage"
Invited talk: Kracauer Lectures in Film and Media Theory, Goethe-University Frankfurt, 3 Nov. 2015, "For Future Reference: Sonic Heritage in Media Archival Comparison"
Invited talk: Universität Bremen, 19 Oct. 2015, "Inventing Zeitgeschichte: Evidence, Documentation and Media Archives"
Keynote: European Sound Studies Association (ESSA) conference: Mapping the Field, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, 29 Jun. 2014, “Archives of Sound: Broadening the Perspective”
Invited talk: KlangDenken lecture series, Humboldt Universität, Berlin, 10 Jun. 2014, “‘Archival Impulses’ in German Radio: Collecting, Ordering and Reusing Sound, 1930-1960"
Invited talk: Weserburg Research Centre, Bremen, 5-7 Jun. 2014, “Radio Art, Technology, and the Sound Archive”
Invited talk: Colloquium zur Zeitgeschichte, Freie Universität Berlin, 15 May 2014, “Sound Archiving, German Broadcasting and Memory Culture (1930-1960)”

> Conference Presentations (selection since 2015)

Materialities of Postcolonial Memory, University of Amsterdam, 7-9. Dec. 2017, “Feeling Radio:  Revisiting Imperial Legacies of Broadcasting in Contemporary Installation Art”
Inventing Global Radio conference, University of Amsterdam, 31 Aug. 2017, “Worlding the (Radio) Archive”
Media and History: Crime, Violence and Justice, IAMHIST conference, University Paris II, 13 Jul. 2017: “On the Wrong Side of Historiography: Reassembling Radio Histories in Breslau/Wrocław” (with Joanna Walewska)
AAG Annual Conference, Boston, 8 Apr. 2017, “Doing Memory Research Differently” (with Danielle Drozdzewski)
Memory Studies Association annual conference, 5 Dec. 2016, “Mobile Research: The Place of (Auto)Ethnography in Contemporary Memory Studies” (with Danielle Drozdzewski)
The Radio Conference 2016: Transational Radio Encounters, University of Utrecht, 5-8 Jul. 2016, "Agency in the Archive? Radio Archiving, Gendered Work and Transnational Networks"
Archives of/for the Future, NECS annual conference, University of Lodz, 18-21 Jun. 2015, "Sounds that Work: Production Films, Sound Archiving and Audio History"
SCMS annual conference, Montreal, 25-29 Mar. 2015, workshop on "Sound, Technology, and Auditory Knowledge"

> Conference / Workshop Organisation (since 2014)

Co-organiser, international workshop: Urban World-Making, 1-2 Jun. 2017, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 
Co-organiser, international workshop: Listening to the Archive: Histories of Sound Data in the Humanities and Sciences, 11-13 Feb. 2016, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 
Co-organiser, international workshop: Music, Voice and Orality in Performance History, 12 Jun. 2015, Amsterdam Centre for Heritage and Identity, Amsterdam
Co-organiser, Sound Signatures - Summer and Winter Schools Part I: “Space, Objects and Embodied Practices,” 13-17 Jan. 2014, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam; Part II: “Epistemologies and the Order of Sound,” 18-22 Aug. 2014, NYU Center / Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin


Department of Media Studies, UvA

For the academic year 2017-18, I will co-teach the BA elective Postcolonial Media Studies and Media Culture in Transformation, along with two MA courses: Research Practices in Media Studies (RMA Media Studies - Core Course 2) and Collection and Collection Management (MA Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image) during semester 1. Between February-July 2018 I will have a sabbatical and will not be available for thesis supervision.

Elective course, Visualising the Street, 2016-17
Core Course Research Practices in Media Studies (RMA Media Studies), 2016-17
Elective course Amsterdam& Creative Urbanism, 2015-16 
Core course Access & Reuse (MA Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image), 2015-16 
Elective course Curating the Moving Image, 2014-15 - see EYE programme 
RMA tutorial Sound Media, Sound Aesthetics: 2010-11, 2012-13
Research seminar Tuning In: Sound in Contemporary Television Practice: 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-12

Core Module Media Culture in Transformation, 2016-17
Elective course Sound Cultures: 2016-17
Core module Methoden voor Media-analyse (coordination, lectures): 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16
Core module Televisieanalyse (coordination, lectures and tutorials): 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15
Elective course Visual Culture, History and Modernity in Twentieth-Century Germany  (German minor program, with Natalie Scholz): 2012-13
Elective course Sound Cultures: 2012-13, 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17
Core module Media, Culture and Identity (coordination, lectures and tutorials): 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012
Core module Analyse en Methode TV en Populaire Cultuur (coordination,lectures and tutorials): 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012
Core module Hedendaagse Mediacultuur: werkgroep televisie (tutorials): 2009-10
BA-Thesis module Sound in Non-Fiction Film and Television: 2006-2007

Guest lectures (selection)

Masterclass, University of Wrocław, 16-17 Oct. 2017: “How to Study Past and Present Soundscapes?” [two sessions]
Masterclass, PhD summer institute [sic!], Northwestern University/University of Cologne, 30. Aug. 2016, "Signature Sounds"
Masterclass, Goethe University Frankfurt, 2 Nov. 2015, "Sonic Heritage and the Politics of Archiving", 
MA elective "Music and Film," MA Musicology, University of Amsterdam, 26. Nov 2013, "Sound and Music in the New German Cinema"
MA Artistic Research, Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague, 1-22 Nov. 2011. Four lectures / workshops
MA Interior Architecture, Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam, 30 May 2011, "Aural Architecture"
MA Artistic Research, Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague, 16 May 2011, "Sound, Technology and Urban Space"


  • Birdsall, C., & Drozdzewski, D. (2017). Capturing Commemoration: Using Mobile Recordings within Memory Research. Mobile Media & Communication. DOI: 10.1177/2050157917730587 


  • Birdsall, C. J. (2016). Sound Memory: A Critical Concept for Researching Memories of Conflict and War. In D. Drozdzewski, S. De Nardi, & E. Waterton (Eds.), Memory, Place and Identity: Commemoration and Remembrance of War and Conflict (pp. 111-129). London: Routledge. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C. (2016). Sound and Media Studies: Archiving and the Construction of Sonic Heritage. In J. G. Papenburg, & H. Schulze (Eds.), Sound as Popular Culture: A Research Companion (pp. 133-148). Cambridge, MA: The MIT press. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2015). Resounding city films: Vertov, Ruttmann and early experiments with documentary sound aesthetics. In H. Rogers (Ed.), Music and sound in documentary film (pp. 20-40). (Routledge Music and screen media series). New York: Routledge. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C., Parry, M., & Tkaczyk, V. (2015). Listening to the Mind: Tracing the Auditory History of Mental Illness in Archives and Exhibitions. The Public Historian, 37(4), 47-72. DOI: 10.1525/tph.2015.37.4.47  [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2014). Sound Aesthetics and the Global Imagination in German Media Culture around 1930. In D. Morat (Ed.), Sounds of modern history: auditory cultures in 19th- and 20th-century Europe (pp. 256-277). New York: Berghahn. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C. (2014). Sound. In M. Kelly (Ed.), Encyclopedia of aesthetics. - 2nd ed. - Vol. 6 (pp. 23-27). Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2013). (In)audible frequencies: sounding out the contemporary branded city. In C. Lindner, & A. Hussey (Eds.), Paris-Amsterdam underground: essays on cultural resistance, subversion, and diversion (pp. 115-131). (Cities and cultures). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C. (2013). Sonic artefacts: reality codes of urbanity in early German radio documentary. In K. Bijsterveld (Ed.), Soundscapes of the urban past: staged sound as mediated cultural heritage (pp. 129-168). (Sound studies). Bielefeld: Transcript. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C., & Siewert, S. (2013). Of Sound Mind: Mental Distress and Sound in Twentieth-Century Media Culture. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 16(1), 27-45. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2012). Nazi soundscapes: sound, technology and urban space in Germany, 1933-1945. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C., & Enns, A. (2012). Rethinking theories of television sound: editorial. Journal of Sonic Studies, 3, 1. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2011). Klanglandschaften und Ratinger Alltagsgeschichte: Zuhören, Erinnern und städtischer Raum. Ratinger Forum : Beiträge zur Stadt- und Regionalgeschichte, 12, 117-141. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2009). Earwitnessing: sound memories of the Nazi period. In K. Bijsterveld, & J. van Dijck (Eds.), Sound souvenirs: audio technologies, memory and cultural practices (pp. 169-181). (Transformations in art and culture). Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2007). 'Affirmative resonances' in the city? Sound, imagination and urban space in early 1930s Germany. In S. Mieszkowski, J. Smith, & M. de Valck (Eds.), Sonic interventions (pp. 57-86). (Thamyris intersecting: place, sex, and race; No. 18). Amsterdam [etc.]: Rodopi. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2015). Can We Invent a Field Called "Radio Preservation Studies"? FlowTV, 21. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C. (2015). Die urbanen Soundscapes des Luftkriegs: Forschungsperspektiven aus Sound Studies, Geschichts- und Medienwissenschaft. Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, 66(11/12), 681-702. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. J. (Author). (2014). MOMA online exhibition "Design and Violence" (Museum of Modern Art, New York): Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD Corporation).
  • Birdsall, C., Missfelder, J-F., Morat, D., & Schleif, C. (2014). Forum: The Senses. German History, 32(2), 256-273. DOI: 10.1093/gerhis/ghu034  [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2013). Die Orchestrierung urbaner Akustik: dokumentarische Form, akustische Medien und die moderne Stadt. In V. Kamensky, & J. Rohrhuber (Eds.), Ton: Texte zur Akustik im Dokumentarfilm (pp. 74-97). (Texte zum Dokumentarfilm; No. 15). Berlin: Vorwerk 8. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C., Boletsi, M., Sapir, I., & Verstraete, P. (2009). Introduction. In C. Birdsall, M. Boletsi, I. Sapir, & P. Verstraete (Eds.), Inside knowledge: (un)doing ways of knowing in the humanities (pp. 1-13). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2008). Sound bites! Dissonant audiovisions as historiophony in Hitler's Hit Parade. In C. Birdsall, & A. Enns (Eds.), Sonic mediations: body, sound, technology (pp. 259-275). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars. [details] 
  • Birdsall, C., & Enns, A. (2008). Introduction. In C. Birdsall, & A. Enns (Eds.), Sonic mediations: body, sound, technology (pp. 1-9). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. (2007). All of Germany listens to the Führer: radio's acoustic space and 'imagined listening community' in Nazi Germany. In R. Bandt, M. Duffy, & D. MacKinnon (Eds.), Hearing places: sound, place, time and culture (pp. 192-201 + cd-tracks 17, 18). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. [details] 


  • Birdsall, C. J. (2017). Interwar France and the Politics of Auditory Culture: [Review R. Scales, Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France, 1921-1939 (CUP, 2016)]. The Senses and Society, 12(2), 222.



  • Birdsall, C. (2012). Soundscapes und Klangmaschinen: neue Literatur zu Klang, Medien und Tontechnologie [Review of: Gethmann (2010) Klangmaschinen zwischen Experiment und Medientechnik; D. Helms, T. Phleps (2007) Sound and the City: populäre Musik im urbanen Kontext; M. Maeder (2007) Milieux sonores = Klangliche Milieus: Klang, Raum und Virtualität]. Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft, 6, 252-256. DOI: 10.4472/9783037343157  [details] 


  • van de Kamp, Linda, Birdsall, C.J. & Halauniova, A. (2017): Seed Grant Centre for Urban Studies for project Urban Heritage-Making: Cultural Forms, Local Histories and Redevelopment.

Book editor

  • Birdsall, C., & Enns, A. (2008). Sonic mediations: body, sound, technology. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars. [details] 
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  • Mediafonds ( Dutch Cultural Media Fund)

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