The Chamber

I wanted to repost this image from my Instagram account as an illustration of the really great afternoon I had with Vic Sparrow from the Graduate Program in Acoustics here at Penn State. Dr. Sparrow’s research is on aviation noise and the sonic boom, and he was generous enough to talk shop with me as well as show me around some of the acoustics labs on campus.

As someone whose research has been primarily historical, it’s rare for me to meet and discuss my work with someone currently practicing in the field that I’m interested in analyzing—in this case, psychoacoustics. But I can already see how such interactions force you to be both more careful and more thorough. I was reminded of Jonathan Sterne’s essay, “Being ‘In the True’ of Sound Studies”, where he says that engaging with people and ideas that are still very much alive “involves making and defending truth claims, and not simply analyzing them from an ironic position.” The archive for my research can get really quirky—and certainly the easiest thing to do is ironically point to it as such. The harder, ongoing work is getting to those “truth claims.”

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