Sound and the Public: A Special Issue of Communication and the Public

Communication and the Public – Call for papers

Jing Wang (Zhejiang University) and Marina Peterson (Ohio University), Guest Editors

Sound as a constitutive element in the formation of public life is exemplified by urban public concerts, the everyday sound of a church bell in a small European village, or the Chinese national anthem played every Monday in Tiananmen Square. In virtual space, the sharing of music files and all sorts of sound files organize public life underlined by shared tastes and ideologies. Sound in public is also a domain of policing relative inclusion and exclusion, of constituting citizenship along axes of race, class, gender, and nationality. And environmental noise that makes the atmospheric perceptible is subject to legal and techno-rational regimes of control. We envision this special issue as joining the already rich literature on sound and the public, while amplifying less well addressed areas of affect, sense, and materiality. Our understanding of the public is expansive, encompassing public feelings, public rituals, public space, public sphere, public speech, the networked public, the transient public, and the mediated public. We seek articles on sound’s capacity and role in creating, enhancing, complicating, or disintegrating the public. Here we ask, how does sound helps us understand current situations of the public as lived, imagined, and sensed? How does a public organize itself acoustically – through listening, feeling, or orienting toward one another? How does sound serve as force, object, or “actant” in composing publics? 

Subjects might include but are not limited to:

  • listening as public sense 
  • sound art in public space
  • sound, memory and collective identity
  • field recording and listening as public engagement
  • acoustic gentrification
  • sound and listening as a mode of engaging the public
  • sound and alternative or counter publics
  • municipal noise ordinances and the inequalities of urban publics 
  • how sound and listening contribute to the formation of an affective public 
  • how the materiality of sound sustains or disrupts public affects
  • the acoustic sense of publics 

We are primarily seeking research articles and theoretical essays, but short reflective essays in a forum/symposium and book reviews or review articles are also welcome.  Manuscripts should not exceed 9000 words in length (inclusive of references, tables, figures, appendices, and endnotes).  The manuscript should be prepared in accordance with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition (2009).  For details of manuscript styles, please refer to

Send papers to Jing Wang ( and Marina Peterson ( by March 1, 2017.