International Year of Sound 2020-2021

Event Calendar

The Year of Sound will be celebrated with events originating at the regional, the national, and the international levels. Here we list all events that have an acoustical outreach component in line with the goals of the Year of Sound.


21 October 2020United States

Lyne Starling Trimble Public Lecture – Tests and Testing: The Case of Hearing and the Making of Modern Aurality in the Long Twentieth Century

The Lyne Starling Trimble Public Lecture Series features prominent science historians and writers who highlight the important roles that science plays in modern society and culture. These lectures are captioned and free to attend. Dr. Alexandra Hui will give a virtual lecture on the history of scientific testing with sounds and the cultures which formed around sound.

Test subjects and testing practices suffuse the history of modern science and medicine. Like the ubiquitous “experiment,” tests carry epistemological power. Yet the history of testing remains undertheorized. In this talk, Hui will examine “testing” through a series of exemplary cases of testing of hearing and testing with hearing during the long twentieth century, from the “Tone Test” of the Edison Phonograph Company to the worker surveys of Muzak to the training protocols of early sonar operators in the US Navy. Hearing tests have been employed in both the sciences and the arts, functioning as cultural techniques of assessment, training, and standardization. Applied at large scale, tests of seemingly small measure — of auditory acuity, of hearing range — helped redefine the modern concept of hearing as such. The historical study of testing of and with hearing illuminates the co-creation of modern epistemic and auditory cultures. More generally, it demonstrates that testing as such became an enduring and wide-ranging cultural technique in the modern period, one that is situated between histories of scientific experimentation and many fields of application.

The lecture will run from 3pm EST to 4pm EST.

Location: virtual (Zoom)

Organisation Responsible: American Institute of Physics

Contact: Joanna Behrman, at


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