“A New Frontier of Literary Engagement”

SpokenWeb’s network of digitized audio recordings brings new life to Canada’s literary heritage

Donna McKinnon

Faculty of Arts, 03 August 2018

When portable recording technology became widely available in the 1960s, people recorded everything from crying babies to private conversations. Across university campuses, literary events and author readings were recorded on reel to reel tapes and (later) audio cassettes, boxed away and for a variety of reasons, largely forgotten.

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“Lit sounds: U of A experts help to rescue treasure trove of audio cultural history”

Professor and librarian team up to salvage tens of thousands of lost recordings across North America

Geoff McMaster

University of Alberta Folio, October 27, 2023

Michael O’Driscoll is on a mission to restore sound to its rightful place in literary studies. Apart from shifting his own students’ attention on poetry from the printed page to a “close listening” of the spoken word in the classroom, the professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of English and Film Studies is helping to rescue thousands of lost audio and video recordings — on reel to reel and cassette tape across Canada.

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CBC Radio Interview with Sean Luyk and Michael O’Driscoll

Mark Connolly, Tara McCarthy

CBC Radio November 1, 2023

University of Alberta experts are on a mission to save sounds buried deep in library archives. They’ve already found recordings of some of Canada’s most important literary figures. Sean Luyk is a digital curation librarian, and Michael O’Driscoll is a professor at the U of A’s English and Film Studies department.

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“Vast digital trove of off-the-cuff remarks from Canadian literary lions nears completion”

Bob Weber

National Post, November 4, 2023.

SpokenWeb is not only a literary resource but an invaluable repository of cultural history. Most of the writers it documents were in the first generation of Canadian writers to achieve any kind of a national and international audience. SpokenWeb is the sound of CanLit being born.

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“U of A professor leads research team to recover lost audio and video recordings”

Peris Jones

The Gateway, December 8, 2023

University of Alberta professor Michael O’Driscoll is working to restore a collection of lost audio and video recordings, through the SpokenWeb project. His goal is to integrate them into the discipline of literary studies.

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