2023 Publication Award Honorable Mention, British Association for Film, Television and Screen Studies
An examination of the sound and silence of women in digital media.
In today’s digital era, women’s voices are heard everywhere—from smart home devices to social media platforms, virtual reality, podcasts, and even memes—but these new forms of communication are often accompanied by dated gender politics. In Women’s Voices in Digital Media, Jennifer O’Meara dives into new and well-established media formats to show how contemporary screen media and cultural practices police and fetishize women’s voices, but also provide exciting new ways to amplify and empower them.
As she travels through the digital world, O’Meara discovers newly acknowledged—or newly erased—female voice actors from classic films on YouTube, meets the AI and digital avatars in Her and The Congress, and hears women’s voices being disembodied in new ways via podcasts and VR voice-overs. She engages with dialogue that is spreading with only the memory of a voice, looking at how popular media like Clueless and The Simpsons have been mined for feminist memes, and encounters vocal ventriloquism on RuPaul’s Drag Race that queers and valorizes the female voice. Through these detailed case studies, O’Meara argues that the digital proliferation of screens alters the reception of sounds as much as that of images, with substantial implications for women’s voices.
1. Film Voices + Time: Excavating Vocal Histories on Digital Platforms
2. The (Post)Human Voice and Feminized Machines in Anomalisa, The Congress, and Her
3. The Expanded and Immersive Voice-Over
4. Karina Longworth and the Remixing of Actresses’ Voices on the You Must Remember This Podcast
5. Meme Girls versus Trump: The Silent Voices of Subtitled Screenshots
6. RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Queered Remediation of Women’s Voices
Jennifer O'Meara is an assistant professor in Film Studies at Trinity College Dublin. She is the author of Engaging Dialogue: Cinematic Verbalism in American Independent Cinema.
An expansive text that looks to the past in order to look forward, [Women's Voices in Digital Media] closes a critical gap in the theorization of women’s voices by revisiting, challenging, and extending classical conceptions in film studies and critical media studies, carrying them into the digital and transmedia age...O’Meara doesn’t just survey and update theory; she lays out a multifaceted framework for future analysis of the female voice across emerging technological and visual platforms. As rare as it is to find within a mature field like critical media studies a text that delivers a paradigmatic update on a major conceptual framework, Jennifer O’Meara has done just that. This will be the book to read for any and all scholarly work on the gendered voice and its intersections with technology and the screen.
This is a timely and impressively researched exploration of the technological landscape of digital media and the 'productive revisions' of women’s voices, real or virtual...The analysis of women’s 'digital communities' and their navigation of new feminist politics offers up a rich new area of enquiry.
~British Association for Film, Television and Screen Studies