UAlberta on the SpokenWeb Podcast Series

SpokenWeb is a literary research network, dedicated to studying literature through sound. But how did this project begin? What kinds of literary recordings inspired it and where were they found? And what happened next in order for these recordings to be heard?

“Stories of SpokenWeb”

Produced by Katherine McLeod & Cheryl Gladu

Season 1, Episode 1: October 7, 2019


For this inaugural episode of the SpokenWeb Podcast, Katherine McLeod seeks to answer these questions by speaking with SpokenWeb researchers Jason Camlot, Annie Murray, Michael O’Driscoll, Roma Kail, Karis Shearer, and Deanna Fong. All of their stories involve a deep interest in literary audio recordings and all of their stories, or nearly all, start with a box of tapes…

Season 1, Episode 1

“Sounds of Trance Formation: An Interview with Penn Kemp”

Produced by Nicholas Beauchesne

Season 2, Episode 3: December 7, 2020


For Penn Kemp, poetry is magic made manifest. While her subjects are varied, and her interests and approaches have evolved over the years, Kemp has always understood the power of spoken word to evoke emotion, shift consciousness, and shape the world. Drawing on a syncretic blend of spiritual philosophy informed by Buddhist, Hindu, and Celtic wisdom traditions, Kemp’s work is imminent and transcendent, embodied and cerebral. The words on the page produce certain effects, while the voices in the air produce others altogether. How do these effects complement and contradict one another? How does literary sound produce bodily effects and altered states of consciousness? Where will the trance take us, as listeners?

Season 2, Episode 3

“Drum Codes [Part 1]: The Language of Talking Drums”

Produced by Chelsea Miya and Sean Luyk

Season 2, Episode 4: January 11, 2021


For hundreds of years, the Yorùbá people of West African have used “talking drums” to send messages across great distances. West African languages are highly musical, full of rising and falling tones. The pitch of talking drums can be adjusted to mimic these tones, so drummers can “speak” to one another. The drummer encodes the language, converting it into drum patterns, and in the process, poeticizes it.

Season 2, Episode 4

“Listening Ethically to the Spoken Word”

Produced by Deanna Fong and Michael O’Driscoll

Season 2, Episode 7: April 5, 2021


This episode is a series of interviews with Humanities scholars Mathieu Aubin, Clint Burnham, Treena Chambers, and T.L. Cowan about their approaches to the ethics of listening in their own research. We join Deanna Fong and Mike O’Driscoll as they step back to listen to the ethical practices of expert listeners. They’ll guide us through the production, collection, preservation, and reception of spoken word performances, as we hear from a performance artist, an oral historian, a curator, and a cultural analyst on what ethical listening means to them.

Season 2, Episode 7

“Shortcuts: Listening Communities: The Introductions of Douglas Barbour”

Produced by Michael O’Driscoll

Season 3, Episode 6: March 21, 2022


Our guest-producer this month, Michael O’Driscoll, invites us to listen to the introductions of the late Douglas Barbour (March 21, 1940 – Sept 25, 2021) from readings held at the University of Alberta. What are we listening to when we hear introductory remarks from past readings spliced together? By asking us to listen to remember, this episode remembers Barbour in his element —in sonic performance — and what we hear in the selected recordings is a combination both of poetic sound and sounds of deep care as he welcomes each writer to the microphone.

Season 3, Episode 6

“Academics on Air”

Produced by Ariel Kroon, Nicholas Beauchesne, and Chelsea Miya

Season 3, Episode 8: May 2, 2022


This episode is framed as a “celebration” of those heady days of college radio in the early 80s. In it, clips from Jars’s radio programs, recovered from the University of Alberta Archives, supplement interviews with Balan and audio engineer Terri Wynnyk. Special tribute will be given to the recently departed Western Canadian poets Doug Barbour and Phyllis Webb through the inclusion of their in-studio performances recorded for Balan’s own Celebrations series. By looking back on the pioneering days of campus radio, this episode sheds light on the current moment in scholarly podcasting and how the genre is being resurrected and reimagined by a new generation of “academics on air.”

Season 3, Episode 8

“Drum Codes [Part 2]: Sounds of Data”

Produced by Chelsea Miya

Season 4, Episode 3: December 5, 2022


Audio technology and audio data come in radically different forms. This month’s episode, “Sounds of Data” is a follow up to Season Two’s “Drum Codes” and takes us deeper into the sonic world of data: from the sounds of surveillance to music of the stars to the wireless transmission of drum songs. Featuring interviews with sound artist and poet Oana Avasilichioaei, NASA sonification expert Matt Russo, and speech technologist Tunde Adegbola, each offering a unique perspective on the question: what does data sound like?

Season 4, Episode 3

“Shortcuts Live! Talking with Ariel Kroon, Nick Beauchesne, and Chelsea Miya

Produced by Katherine McLeod

Season 4, Episode 4: March 20, 2023


This month, ShortCuts presents another ShortCuts Live! It is a conversation with Ariel Kroon, Nick Beauchesne, and Chelsea Miya about their collaboration in producing “Academics on Air” (May 2022) for The SpokenWeb Podcast. That episode became a paper that Ariel, Nick, and Chelsea co-presented at the 2022 SpokenWeb Symposium and Institute. After that presentation, ShortCuts producer Katherine McLeod sat down with Ariel, Nick, and Chelsea around a microphone in the SpokenWeb Amp Lab at Concordia University. They talked about processes of collaboration and archival listening that shaped their work. Starting with one audio clip as the short ‘cut’ that caught their attention in the archives, they talk about about context of that clip in the Voiceprint archives, the potential for podcasting to be a radical act of unarchiving, and what makes recordings of a radio show a unique task for cataloguers working with literary sounds recordings, and much more.

Season 4, Episode 4

“Ambient Connection: The Sounds of Public Library Spaces”

Produced by Maia Trotter

Season 4, Episode 7: June 5, 2023


In this episode, Maia Trotter—SpokenWeb research assistant and recent graduate of the MLIS program at the University of Alberta—explores what libraries actually sound like. Featuring interviews with three staff members at the Edmonton Public Library Stanley A. Milner branch and her own personal reflections, this episode considers how the sounds of library spaces have changed over time, and the connection between those sounds and the ways that libraries can make us feel.

Season 4, Episode 7