Shawn VanCour
GSE&IS 229
300 North Charles E. Young Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521

P: (310) 825-7809

Shawn VanCour

Assistant Professor of Media Archival Studies


  • Ph.D., Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.A., Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Teaching and Research Interests

  • Media archives
  • Critical media historiography
  • Media archaeology
  • Local media and community archiving
  • Theory and politics of collecting
  • Format theory
  • Media policy
  • Media and cultural theory
  • Media and information industries
  • History and theory of screen media
  • Sound studies and audio culture
  • Social construction of new technologies


Shawn VanCour’s research explores the industrial, technological, and aesthetic histories of U.S. radio and television, their relationships with neighboring sound and screen media, and their transformations in the digital era. His first book, Making Radio: Early Radio Production and the Rise of Modern Sound Culture (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), traces the development of dominant production practices and performance styles for early U.S. radio and their impact on adjacent fields of film and music recording. He is currently working on a second book on the professionalization of creative labor for early U.S. television. His work has appeared in Media, Culture & Society, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Journal of Material Culture, Modernist Cultures, Journal of Radio & Audio Media, and various anthologies, as well as online forums such as Sounding Out! The Sound Studies Blog, Flow: A Critical Forum on Television & Media Culture, and Antenna: Responses to Media and Culture. He also serves as Development Director for the Library of Congress’s Radio Preservation Task Force, working with archives throughout the country to improve preservation and access to historical audio materials.

Select Publications

“Locating the Radio Archive: New Histories, New Challenges,” accepted for publication in Journal of Radio and Audio Media (forthcoming, 2017)

“Eat What You Hear: Gustasonic Discourses and the Material Culture of Commercial Sound Recording” (coauthored with Kyle Barnett), accepted for publication in Journal of Material Culture (forthcoming, 2017)

“Revisiting ‘War of the Worlds’: First-Person Narration in Golden Age Radio Drama,” chapter in Orson Welles: Stage, Sound, Screen, and Society, ed. Sidney Gottlieb and James Gilmore (forthcoming, Indiana University Press, 2017)

“Radio and the History of Technology: Inventing American Broadcasting and the Rise of Social Constructionism,” chapter in A Companion to the History of American Broadcasting, ed. Aniko Bodroghkozy (forthcoming, Wiley-Blackwell, 2017)

“From Radio to Television: Sound Style and Audio Technique in Early TV Anthology Dramas,” chapter in The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound, ed. Miguel Mera, Ron Sadoff, and Ben Winters (forthcoming, Routledge 2017)

“Media Diffusion: Understanding How New Things Happen,” article in The Sage Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, ed. Mike Allen (forthcoming, Sage, 2017)

“Spectacular Sound: Classical Music Programming and the Problem of ‘Visual Interest’ in Early U.S. Television,” chapter in Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences, ed. James Deaville and Christina Baade (Oxford University Press, 2016)

“Norman Corwin on Television: A Transmedia Approach to Style Historiography,” chapter in Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin and Media Authorship, ed. Jacob Smith and Neil Verma (University of California Press, 2016)

“Educating Tomorrow’s Media Workers: Television Instruction in American Institutions of Higher Learning, 1945-1960,” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 33.1 (2016)

“Early Radio Listening as Modernist Practice: Ambient Radio and the Aesthetic of Distraction,” Modernist Cultures 10.1 (2015), Special Issue on Modernism and Radio

“TV Music and the History of Television Sound,” chapter in Music in Television: Channels of Listening, ed. James Deaville (Routledge, 2011)

“Arnheim on Radio: Materialtheorie and Beyond,” chapter in Arnheim for Film and Media Studies, ed. Scott Higgins (Routledge AFI Series, 2010)

“Popularizing the Classics: Radio’s Role in the American Music Appreciation Movement, 1922-1934,” Media, Culture and Society 31.2 (March, 2009)

“Network Nation: Writing Broadcasting History as Cultural History,” chapter with Michele Hilmes in NBC: America’s Network, ed. Michele Hilmes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)