Amy Skjerseth

A. Skjerseth
Cohort Year: 2016
Research Interests: Sound, Music, and Voice Studies; Film and Media History and Theory; Social History of Technology; Multisensory and Embodied Spectatorship; Race, Gender, and Sexuality; Close Listening/Reading; International Avant-Gardes; Animation; Radio and Podcasting
Education: MA, English, McGill University (2016) BA, English, University of Rochester (2013) BM, Applied Music: Oboe Performance, Eastman School of Music (2013)

Biography

Amy Skjerseth is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her scholarly interests range from the materiality of voice and the use of found sound in avant-garde cinema to social histories of audio-visual and music technologies. Past publications include “Multiplying Mise-en-Scène: Found Sounds of The Night of the Hunter in Lewis Klahr’s Daylight Moon and Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinema (Film Criticism 44.1, 2020), an audio essay on Yoko Ono’s Fly in [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies (6.2, 2019), and an article on film sound in It Follows in Spectator. Her work has also appeared in Theatre Research International.

An active member of the sound studies community, Amy co-coordinated the Sound and Society Workshop at UChicago from 2017-19. Since 2019, she has been co-organizer of the Great Lakes Association for Sound Studies. She is also a core producer of Phantom Power: A Podcast on the Sonic Arts and Humanities. For Phantom Power, she recently wrote and produced the episode “The Enduring Voice of Yoko Ono.” Since 2020, she has been the graduate representative for the SCMS Radio Studies Scholarly Interest Group. In 2020-21, she received a Mellon-funded UChicagoGRAD Graduate Global Impact Internship to teach and develop career and podcast programming in the Sound Arts and Industries MA Program at Northwestern University. 

Amy's dissertation-in-progress, The Portable Pop Archive in Experimental Cinema: Technological Transformations of Aural Memory, examines American and British artists who import pop music into media ranging from postwar avant-garde films to contemporary music videos. By focusing on American and British artists between 1963 and 2018, The Portable Pop Archive reveals how the increasing portability of sound recording and broadcasting after World War II has allowed filmmakers and musicians to use found sound to center marginalized voices in both avant-garde and mainstream media. Each chapter shows how the historical and economic origins of a specific sound technology foster trends in popular music, and then how artists build on these social meanings when they juxtapose songs with new, experimental images. From overdubbing to deepfakes, Amy argues that a vital strand of media practice uses found sound to politicize historical moments by appealing to personal and collective memory. 

Amy's research interests often inform her teaching. She received the Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowship for an undergraduate course of her own design, "Sound and Scandal: How Media Make Believe," to be taught in Spring 2021. "Sound and Scandal" analyzes lip sync and dubbing as they develop across cultures and media genres, from Hollywood and Bollywood to drag and TikTok. The syllabus for that course can be viewed at this website of The College at the University of Chicago.

Teaching Experience

  • Sound and Scandal: How Media Make Believe (TAVE Fellowship course, cross-listed with Media Arts and Design, Music, and TAPS) - Spring 2021
  • Listening to Movies, CA - Spring 2020
  • Methods and Issues in Cinema and Media Studies, CA - Autumn 2019
  • History of International Cinema II (1927-1960), CA - Winter 2019
  • Academic and Professional Writing ("The Little Red Schoolhouse"), Lector - Spring 2019