*UPDATED* Special Issue Call for Proposals: Sound Traumas: Curricular Attunements for Care and Educational Understandings


Special Issue Call for Proposals: Sound Traumas: Curricular Attunements for Care and Educational Understandings

Boni Wozolek, Penn State University, Abington College

Walter S. Gershon, Rowan University

Acts of listening are always already connected to questions of privilege and power (Gershon, 2017; Moten, 2003; Stoever, 2016). In light of the omnipresent, endlessly polyphonic nature of the sonic, sociopolitical processes through which we listen and work to be heard, histories, contemporary contexts, and identities are necessarily and irrevocably enmeshed (Robinson, 2020; Sterne, 2012). The sounds that are produced, received, interpreted, and inform one’s actions create emergent consequences that further impact our theoretical and material understandings (Lordi, 2013; Nancy, 2007). One only needs to reflect on how the sounds of music and speech shape cultures and communities (Erickson, 2004; Weheliye, 2005) or how violent events can form and inform our daily lives (Berry & Stovall, 2013; Wozolek, 2021).  

Take for example, Eric Garner’s last words as he was being murdered by New York City police officer, Daniel Pantaleo: “I can’t breathe.” Although Pantaleo did not testify, his partner, Officer Meems, explained that he felt justified in his choice not to interrupt this murder because Meems did not “focus on any one spot” and thought that Garner was “just playing possum” (City of New York v. Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, 2014, p. 22). Such a claim is only possible from an ocular perspective of framing (Aoki, 1991; Gershon, 2017). A sonic perspective calls our attention to the Officers’ focus on the ocular and disregard of the sonic, an active decision not to listen to the sounds of Eric Garner struggling through suffocation to be heard. When placed alongside Meems testimony, an example of visually driven epistemologies emerges, understandings that are often expressed through racialized, gendered, and anti-queer actions (Bull & Back, 2015; Eidsheim, 2019).

As Garner’s words reverberated across news and social media outlets, they were heard differently as communities of color and activists deeply listened (Oliveros, 2005) to their resonances, hearing the metaphorical and literal chokeholds of Black and Brown peoples by American sociocultural norms and values (Butler, 2018; Taylor, 2016). Garner’s final words became the cry heard throughout the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, not just because they were indelible but because they have been echoed across sociohistorical moments (Crawley, 2016; Gershon, 2017). As Garner’s words have been uttered by more recent victims of police violence (e.g., George Floyd) and repeated by BLM activists, it can be argued that Garner’s final sounds are amplified and dampened reverberations (Gershon, 2020) of past, present, and future sound(ed) events.

Yet, when violent events occur, it is not unusual for media outlets to censor images while allowing viewers to listen to a 911 call or audio pulled from a video source. The rationale behind censoring such images is often described as a way to avoid traumatizing viewers and to prevent the proliferation of normalized violence through the associated images (Benjamin, 1966/2003). While viewers close their eyes to avoid visual contact with violence, it is impossible to close an earlid (Kim-Cohen, 2009) and avoid being impacted by the sounds of dying and death. Returning briefly to the sounds of Garner’s last moments, people across the nation listened to him (“I can’t breathe”) and intra-acted (Barad, 2007) with the sounds of the event, regardless of its visual presentation. As people listened, their interpretations and re-actions were connected to questions of privilege and power as subjectivities and agency emerged from listening—from the “Back the Blue” and “Black Lives Matter” binary to those who assumed that they could hear past such violence and instead insisted that they were participating in colorblind discourses (Stoever, 2016. The work of sound studies in education is similarly silenced through continued Western privileging of the ocular (Hilmes, 2005; Pinar & Irwin [Aoki], 2005; Gershon & Appelbaum, 2019).

This special issue calls for papers and sounds that attend to curricular attunements of sound(ed) trauma that can be heard across spaces, from classrooms and corridors to communities. The purpose of this issue is to theorize how sound is central to educational studies and curriculum theorizing by thinking through what might be understood as forms of sonic warfare (Goodman, 2012) and sonic ways of beingknowingdoing that undergird educational contexts, those that amplify justice as well as those that actively dampen its potential possibilities.

We conceptualize these collective injustices and (un)intentional harm as forms of sound trauma. As with assemblages of violence that are entangled with questions of hope (Wozolek, 2021), this special issue seeks contributions that note the imbricated nature of care and pain as well as those that enunciate how curricular attunements can combat or otherwise circumnavigate such traumas. Each piece must in some fashion address the sonic in ways that acknowledge its presence across curricular traditions and understandings present in the field of sound studies (e.g., Bull & Back, 2015; Sterne, 2012). In addition, JCT’s electronic format allows for the inclusion of sonic materials, a possibility we also encourage but one that is by no means a prerequisite for inclusion in this special issue.

Updated Timeline
  • Abstracts (500 words, plus references): September 5, 2022 
  • Acceptance/Rejection Decisions: October 3, 2022 
  • Drafts Submitted: April 10, 2023 
  • Submissions must include:
    • 150-word abstract
    • 6-8 key terms
    • Paper length: 4,500-6,000 words, including references written in APA, 7th edition style citation


Please contact Boni Wozolek (bfw5188@psu.edu) with any questions about this special issue. 


Aoki, T. T. (1991). Sonare and vidare: Questioning the primacy of the eye in curriculum talk. In G. Willis & W. H. Schubert (Eds.), Reflections from the heart of educational inquiry: Understanding curriculum and teaching through the arts (pp. 182–189). State University of New York Press.

Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press.

Benjamin, W. (2003). Understanding Brecht. Verso. (Original work published 1966)

Berry, T. R., & Stovall, D. O. (2013). Trayvon Martin and the curriculum of tragedy: Critical race lessons for education. Race Ethnicity and Education, 16(4), 587–602.

Bull, M., & Back, L. (Eds.). (2015). The auditory culture reader (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Butler, P. (2018). Chokehold: Policing black men. The New Press.

City of New York v. Officer Daniel Pantaleo. (2014). Case No. 2018-19274.


Crawley, A. T. (2016). Blackpentecostal breath: The aesthetics of possibility. Fordham University Press.

Eidsheim, N. S. (2019). The race of sound: Listening, timbre & vocality in African American music. Duke University Press.

Erickson, F. (2004). Talk and social theory: Ecologies of speaking and listening in everyday life. Polity.

Gershon, W. S. (2012). Troubling notions of risk: Dissensus, dissonance, and making sense of students and learning. Critical Studies in Education, 53(3), 361–373.

Gershon, W. S. (2017). Sound curriculum: Sonic studies in educational theory, method, & practice. Routledge.

Gershon, W. S. (2020). Reverberations and reverb: Sound possibilities for narrative, creativity, and critique. Qualitative Inquiry, 26(2), 1163–1173.

DOI: https://doi-org.ezproxy.rowan.edu/10.1177/1077800418807254

Gershon, W. S., & Appelbaum, P. M. (Eds.). (2019). Sonic studies in educational foundations: Echoes, reverberations, silences, noise. Routledge.

Goodman, S. (2012). Sonic warfare: Sound, affect, and the ecology of fear. The MIT Press.

Hilmes, M. (2005). Is there a field called sound culture studies? And does it matter? American Quarterly, 57(1), 249–259.

Kim-Cohen, S. (2009). In the blink of an ear: Toward a non-cochlear sound art. Continuum.

Lordi, E. (2013). Black resonance: Iconic women singers and African American literature. Rutgers University Press.

Moten, F. (2003). In the break: The aesthetics of the black radical tradition. University of Minnesota Press.

Nancy, J. (2007). Listening. Fordham University Press.

Oliveros, P. (2005). Deep listening: A composer’s sound practice. IUniverse.

Pinar, W. F. & Irwin, R. L. (Eds.). (2005). Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki. Lawrence Erlbaum.

Robinson, D. (2020). Hungry listening: Resonant theory for indigenous sound studies. University of Minnesota Press.

Sterne, J. (2012). The sound studies reader. Routledge.

Stoever, J. L. (2016). The sonic color line: Race & the cultural politics of listening. New York University Press.

Taylor, K. Y. (2016). From #BlackLivesMatter to black liberation. Haymarket Books.

Weheliye, A. G. (2005). Phonographies. Duke University Press.

Wozolek, B. (2021). Assemblages of violence in education: Everyday trajectories of oppression. Routledge.