School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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James Mansell

Professor of Cultural History and Sound Studies, Faculty of Arts



Professor James Mansell is Professor of Cultural History and Sound Studies in the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies at the University of Nottingham where he has also held Associate Professor (2018-23) and Assistant Professor (2010-18) positions. He completed BA (Hons), MA, and PhD degrees in History at the University of Manchester. His research is on auditory cultures, especially the preservation and interpretation of sounds from the past, and his teaching encompasses a wide variety of audio media and listening cultures. He was Co-Investigator of the AHRC funded Science Museum project 'Music, Noise and Silence' and Principal Investigator of the AHRC funded project Sonic Futures: Collecting, Curating and Engaging with Sound at the National Science and Media Museum. He has held visiting fellowships at the National Science and Media Museum and the Science Museum.

Expertise Summary

James's research and teaching expertise are in sound studies. His research has focused on the cultural history of sound and hearing, sound media, and on histories of sonic modernity and modernism. In addition to research on the history of noise and everyday hearing he has worked on histories of 'occult' sound in relation to 'enchanted' modernist arts practices. He is currently working, among other things, on sound, museums and heritage. You can read about some of his work with the Science Museum in this blog and his work with the National Science and Media Museum in this blog.


The Age of Noise in Britain: Hearing Modernity (University of Illinois Press, 2017). You can listen to a feature about the book on BBC Radio 4's 'Thinking Allowed' and a full author interview on the New Books in Sound Studies podcast.

Negotiating Noise Across Spaces, Places and Disciplines , co-edited with Sanne Krogh Groth (Sound Environment Centre, Lund University, 2021). You can watch a series of videos featuring the authors on the 'Negotiating Noise' page of the Sound Environment Centre website and see new sound art videos connected to the book on the book launch event page. Listen to a talk about the book at the Gothenberg Book Fair 2022.

Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West, co-edited with Christopher Scheer and Sarah Victoria Turner (Fulgur, 2019). You can read a review on Frieze, an interview with the editors entitled 'The origin of Enchanted Modernities' ,and watch a public lecture about the book delivered at the Gamble House, California.

The Projection of Britain: A History of the GPO Film Unit, co-edited with Scott Anthony (BFI Books, 2011).


Enchanted Modernities: Mysticism, Landscape and the American West, an exhibition at Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan, Utah, USA, 2014, with Christopher Scheer and Sarah Victoria Turner. Read a review here. You can also listen to a radio feature about the exhibition.

Pioneering Spirit: Maud MacCarthy - Music, Mysticism and Modernity, an exhibition at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, York, UK, 2014, with Rachel Cowgill, Christopher Scheer and Sarah Victoria Turner.

Research Summary

Funded Research Projects

Sonic Futures: Collecting, Curating and Engaging with Sound at the National Science and Media Museum, AHRC Follow On Funding for Engagement and Impact

Sensory Engagement: Arts, Museum and Research Collaboration for Sound Practice, University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, 2016-17

Acoustics on Display: Collecting and Curating Sound at the Science Museum, AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund, 2016

Music, Noise and Silence: Building Engagement in the Culture of Music and Science, AHRC Network, 2014-15

Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Arts, 1875-1960, Leverhulme International Network, 2012-15

Recent Publications

James has supervised seven PhD theses and one MRes thesis to date on topics ranging from the history of TV in Britain to the commemoration of war dead in contemporary Britain to the use of amateur film in public history. He welcomes enquires from potential postgraduate research students working in any area of media and cultural studies, especially media and cultural history, sensory studies and sound studies.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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