Project ID: 203
Title Modern Voices: Women's Speech on Australian Radio, 1923-1966 - CATHERINE HORNE
DESCRIPTION  This project will investigate how women’s radio broadcasts challenged the gendered soundscape of the public sphere in mid-twentieth century Australia. Radio provided a platform from which women spoke about a wide range of topics, and through using particular forms of speech, women could use radio to promote their ideas, experiences, and aims, as well as to craft a public persona, and have their message taken more seriously. Listeners intensely focused on the sound of the voice during broadcasts, and the presence of women’s voices in radio programming raises questions as to the connections between sound, gender and public citizenship. Although historians of Australian speech, radio, and modern womanhood have so far largely neglected this topic, a small number of scholars in the United States, Western Europe and South America have examined the connection between women’s radio speech and citizenship. This study will test the conclusions reached by these international scholars through a focus on the distinctiveness of the Australian experience. Compared with other regions, Australia had a different radio industry, particular experiences of women’s enfranchisement and political participation, and characteristic debates about speech. This thesis will also contribute to the history of Australian radio by providing the first comprehensive study of women’s radio speech in this country. Why did women speak on the radio, and to what extent did broadcasting enable women to claim a voice as citizens in modern Australia? To answer this question scripts, programme correspondence, and radio magazines, and other documentation will also be examined to reveal what topics, vocabularies and vocal performance styles were expected of and adopted by women on the air, why they chose to speak on radio, and how producers and listeners evaluated women’s broadcasts. I am also developing a methodology based on the social semiotics of sound to investigate the sonic and lexical qualities of women’s speech on surviving recordings of women’s broadcasts, and this is another key contribution of my work. My hypothesis is that radio enabled the development of particular forms of modern public womanhood defined by speech and sound.
TYPE Radio
URL  http://
KEYWORDS women; radio; australia; citizenship
Researcher Role Institution Department
Catherine Horne Higher Degree Researcher Other School of History