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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.
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.
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