School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Image of James Mansell

James Mansell

Associate Professor in Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts



Dr James Mansell is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies in the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies. He holds BA (Hons), MA, and PhD degrees in History from the University of Manchester. In 2019 he is a Visiting Researcher at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, working with sound technology collections and audience engagement. At Nottingham co-directs the Nottingham Sensory Studies Network, a research cluster supporting sensory work across the disciplines with a focus on sensory methodologies, practices, and histories. He has been a Research Associate at Science Museum, London, collaborating on projects about sound and museums. He is Book Reviews Editor of the journal The Senses and Society and a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

Expertise Summary

James's research and teaching expertise are in cultural history, sensory studies, and 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 about his current 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.

Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West, co-edited with Christopher Scheer and Sarah Victoria Turner (Fulgur, 2019).

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

Exhibitions and Arts Projects

Sound and Fury: Listening to the Second World War, a collaboration with composer Aleks Kolkowski. A sound installation resulting from this project was first shown as part of the Being Human Festival 2016.

Urban Vibrations: Sound, Selfhood and the City, a collaborative project with artist Magda Stawarska-Beavan. Read a blog on the beginnings of the project.

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

Sensory Engagement: Arts, Museum and Research Collaboration for Sound Practice, University of Nottingham and Nottincham 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

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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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