Pandemic Listening: Critical Annotations on a Podcast Made in Social Isolation


We no longer sound the same to each other, and we listen to the world differently than we did before. This co-written article presents a series of reflections upon the implications of the increasing dominance of audiovisual telecommunication environments for how we have been listening to each other and to the world around us during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The reflections explored in this article were first articulated within a media production: the podcast episode, “How are we listening, now? Signal, Noise, Silence,” as part of The SpokenWeb Podcast produced by Camlot and McLeod during the first months of the pandemic. “Pandemic Listening” revisits questions posed in the podcast episode about the implications of our increasingly pervasive Zoom-based methods of communication, and the connection between how we are listening and how we are feeling, individually and collectively. In revisiting these discussions as they are transcribed and at a temporal distance from the early days of social restriction when the podcast was produced, this article unpacks discoveries about signal and noise made performatively within the podcast, and theorizes pandemic listening as a condition of sonic instability and attunement that opens opportunities for reflection and transformation of systemic, habitual listening practices.

This article “Pandemic Listening: Critical Annotations on a Podcast Made in Social Isolation” originally appeared in Pandemics Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 245 (2021): 67-87.

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