Media @ McGill

Dylan Mulvin

Submitted by hive on

Sounds too learny: democratic aesthetics on the radio

My broader research interests include Canadian broadcasting, sound studies, popular culture, and sport. My work focuses on ideas of public service media, cultural history, and democratic aesthetics. Specific issues I’m interested in and curious about surround the dissemination of public or popular knowledge and the ways in which values ascribed to public service broadcasting and documentary form are crystallized in specific aesthetic features or trends.  

This project represents public broadcasting aesthetics as the result of an arrangement of assumptions about the purpose and value of public broadcasting, the desires and needs of the public audience, and the interplay of auteurism and accessibility within the construction of broadcasting texts.  

The focus of this project is the development—and accordant problems—of a public service aesthetic that is foregrounded in both plainly didactic and more experimental non-fiction radio at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. My analysis will be conducted within a material history of the experience of listening to public broadcasting. As such, I hope to examine the ways in which listening to public service broadcasting is presented as a distinctly democratic experience. Further, I hope to show how this experience, as mediated by the radio—and later the fetishization of digital adaptability—is developed and assumed in the evolution of a public service broadcasting aesthetic. Finally, I will describe the expression of this aesthetic in the promotion of public knowledge and national identity within a selection of non-fiction English programming at the CBC.