Photography in Sound: The Transatlantic Radio Feature 1939-1946

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University Club, Room 212
@ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Portrait image of Michele Hilmes outdoors wearing a red shirt and small hoop earrings standing in front of a wood fence.

Monday Seminar:

Michele Hilmes

Resident Fellow (2010-2011)

Communication Arts, UW-Madison


Radio as a sound medium rose to a height of aesthetic accomplishment in the WWII era “feature” program, as it simultaneously became a powerful instrument of propaganda for nations at war, most notably in Britain and the United States. This talk will trace some of the tensions within which the radio feature found expressive form: between the demands of “pure radio” and the need for documentary “photography in sound;” between live and recorded production techniques; and between democratizing and authoritarian impulses tied to the problematic indexicality of sound in a visual world.


Michele Hilmes is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication Arts. She received her Ph.D. in Cinema Studies from New York University in 1986. She is the author or editor of several books on media history, including Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable (1990), Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922-1952 (1997); Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States(3rd edition 2010); The Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio (ed., 2001), The Television History Book (ed., 2003), and NBC: America’s Network (ed., 2007). Her forthcoming book, Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting (2011) examines flows of transatlantic influence between US and British broadcasters during radio and television’s formative years and their impact on the production of global culture. She is the founder of the North American Radio Studies Network and founding editorial board member of The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media.