Student Kathryn Huether Awarded Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship
Title of Project: "Critically Suggesting or Emphatically Telling?: Questioning Audio Guides and their Accompanying Sonic Nuances at Holocaust Memorial Sites"
Affiliated Center: Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Faculty Mentor: Professor Leslie Morris, director of the program in Jewish Studies, associate professor German and Scandinavian, and Dutch
Project Abstract: This project investigates the conveyance of memory and its representations in relation to the Holocaust, specifically assessing audioguides as a media form. Prominently used within museum exhibitions as a replacement for a physical tour guide, audioguides offer a pre-recorded narrative that contextualizes a visited site or museum. Often employing sonic effects, such as musical segments, as a dramatic complementary to the dialogue, audioguides thus influence the listener’s reception of the memory and history. I propose to investigate the sonic nuances included in the Treblinka extermination camp memorial audioguide in Poland—i.e the narrator’s vocal inflections, musical addenda, accompanying soundscapes, etc.—to highlight how sonic nuances influence the narrative, and to what end. I aim to suggest that the sonic nuances influence the site visitor emotionally, but in an inadequate manner. Following my initial analysis of the audio guide, I will then design an alternate audioguide in response, with the purpose of curating a multi-layered didactic experience, rather than a solely emotive one.