PhD Scholarship: ‘Enabling or Disabling? Critical responses to new audio technologies in the early 20th century’, White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WROCAH)

Location: School of Philosophy, Religion & History of Science, University of Leeds

Closing Date: 5pm Friday 1st June 2018

Enabling or Disabling? Critical responses to new audio technologies in the early 20th century
White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WROCAH)

Fully funded PhD scholarship in the White Rose Network: Electronic Soundscapes
Supervisors: Graeme Gooday (University of Leeds), and Esme Cleall (University of Sheffield).

Our preliminary descriptor for this project is as follows; this will be developed in the first six months of the PhD award via a comprehensive, guided literature review:

New media technologies have not always brought universal benefits. Some indeed have had distinctly disabling effects on social participation and communication. This project looks at the challenges created by the new aural technologies of telephone, radio and ‘talkie’ movies that added to the soundscapes of British life for many by World War 2. While some of the blind population could access the new ‘spoken word’ culture of radio through the British Wireless for the Blind Fund founded in 1928, these aural innovations excluded Deaf people and made participation problematic for hard of hearing people. Numerous hearing aid manufacturers marketed a new generation of electronic devices as a technical fix for the challenges involved, but the experiences of many who tried to use these hearing aids, and the controversies around the advertising of them, has never been fully documented. The PhD student on this project would be invited to explore any aspects that interested them in the broader historical context of differentiated experiences of audio technologies. Available research resources include the Action on Hearing Loss Library, which holds both the archives of the National Institute for the Deaf, its records of regional Hard of Hearing Clubs and the journals of various deaf organisations. Materials on the testing and advertising of hearing aids are available at BT Archives, The British Post Museum and Archive and the History of Advertising Trust in Norfolk.

For further information please contact:
Graeme Gooday:
Esme Cleall:

Application Closing Date: 5pm Friday 1 June
(Interviews have been provisionally scheduled for 4 July)

How to apply
Application is in two parts. An application cannot be considered unless BOTH PARTS are complete.
You must apply for a place of study at the University of Leeds, School of Philosophy, Religion & History of Science. If you have not done this yet, you can do this here

White Rose Studentship Application Form:
If you have any queries about completing the online application form, please contact the WRoCAH Office on

Applicant Requirements
Applicants must:

  • Have at least a UK Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent. A Masters degree is desirable, or demonstration of equivalent experience.
  • Demonstrate a desire to participate fully in the ‘Electronic Soundscapes’ network and its activities.
  • Demonstrate a desire to engage with and benefit from the full WRoCAH cohort of students from across the three White Rose Universities (c. 80 students) at the same stage in their research, in a shared training and development programme.

Terms and Conditions
Each WRoCAH White Rose Networks Studentship is tenable for three years and students are expected to start in October 2018. As the coherence of the network is important, deferrals will not be permitted.

The award will provide fees at the Home/EU rate and a stipend paid at standard Research Council rates
(£14,777) for the first year of study. The award is renewable for a second and third year of study subject to satisfactory academic progress according to each institution’s Policy on Research Degrees.

Successful students will also be eligible to apply to additional WRoCAH funding schemes for research support, training, student-led activities and knowledge exchange projects. All students will be required to spend one month with an external Partner organisation on a specific project to develop their employability skills.

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