© Listening Across Disciplines II
Peer-reviewed audio paper

Leaky knowledge

Listening between bodies, technology and learning
6. april 2021
Fokus: Sounds of Science
  DOI https://doi.org/10.48233/SEISMOGRAF2601

This audio paper is produced by Salomé Voegelin and Mark Peter Wright as part of the UK research council funded project Listening Across Disciplines II. It reflects on the practice and teaching of auscultation – a medical technique for listening to the body with a stethoscope – in relation to how we know the body as a physiological and a political entity from its sound.

A conversation about learning how to listen to lungs with physiotherapist and lecturer Dr Debbie Thackray, University of Southampton (UK), is accompanied by ambient recordings of students as they negotiate the nuances of listening training. The paper is punctured with reflections, questions and critical dialogue by the authors, and aims to generate new knowledge about bodies and subjectivities, from a medical sonic praxis, taken as both operational and speculative. We delve into the real and simulated bodies of listening and learning, and seek to grasp the uncertain meaning that leaks between technologies, bodies and ears. In this way, the paper juxtaposes the material experience of listening to lungs with the protocols of its training and the technology that enables auscultation, in order to reveal what we call ‘relational gain’. Thus, we propose sonic knowledge pathways that take account of the technological, pedagogical and ideological infrastructures that determine the aims and possibilities of a listening-orientated praxis.

For more information on the research context please visit the Listening Across Disciplines II website.

Lung sound recording courtesy of Prof Anna Barney, University of Southampton.


Bijsterveld, K. (2019) Sonic Skills: Listening for Knowledge in Science, Medicine and Engineering (1920s–Present). London: Palgrave Macmillan. Available from: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1057%2F978-1-137-59829-5#toc [Accessed 10th August 2020].

Harris, A. & Van Drie, M. (2015) Sharing Sound: Teaching, Learning, and Researching Sonic Skills. Sound Studies. 1(1), pp. 98-117. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20551940.2015.1079076 [Accessed 10th August 2020].

Mattern, S. (2020) Urban Auscultation; or, Perceiving the Action of the Heart [online]. Available from: placesjournal.org/article/urban-auscultation-or-perceiving-the-action-of-the-heart/ [Accessed 10 August 2020].

Shildrick, M. (1997) Leaky Bodies. London: Routledge.


sonic knowledge