Michael Hedges

Michael Hedges


I joined the University of Leeds in October 2020. My research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities. I am based in the School of Fine Art, History of Arts and Cultural Studies; though I work closely with the School of English.

My research concerns sound technology in contemporary fiction. I am looking at novelists including Richard Powers, Jennifer Egan and Paul Beatty to examine recorded music’s political ecology (or how recordings are made, what they are made of and how they are disposed of). I argue that their work articulates anxieties about recorded music's eventual decay by engaging with its troubling manufacture, carbon footprint and difficult disposal: what is known as its political ecology.

I contend that the fictional representation of mediated listening experiences reveals the terror and wonder of recordings in ways that have not been explored. This representation is crucial if we are to become more responsible consumers of recordings.

Research interests

  • sound studies
  • environmental humanities
  • narrative theory
  • critical and cultural theory
  • 20th and 21st century US fiction

Teaching 2021/2022 and 2022/2023

  • Introduction to Cultural Analysis I (ARTF1003)
  • Introduction to Cultural Analysis II (ARTF1004)
  • Keywords (ARTF2127)
  • Cinema and Media History (ARTF1026)

Conferences and performances

  • Hedges, M. 2022. The low-down on low-data design: a REP in progress… . WRoCAH Festival of Research. 20 October, York Hospitium and Online.
  • Hedges, M. 2022. Gates: a performance and workshop in sound. Borderlands: Postcolonial Formations of Connection and Separation. 9–10 June, University of Leeds.
  • Hedges, M. 2021. ‘It might not be poetry poetry, [...] but it’s what I do’: institutionalising hip hop and the academy in On Beauty by Zadie Smith [PowerPoint presentation]. Hip Hop and Higher Education. 15 July [Virtual conference].
  • Hedges, M. 2021. Form between formats: using the relics of data compression as a compositional tool [PowerPoint presentation]. Vibrant Practices: Material Agency and Performative Ontologies. 16–17 April [Virtual conference].
  • Hedges, M. 2021. Writing the depth of the stream: digital audio’s leaky materiality in Orfeo by Richard Powers [PowerPoint presentation]. American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting. 8–11 April, Palais des congrès de Montréal [Virtual due to COVID-19].
  • Hedges, M. 2021. Haunting recordings in White Tears by Hari Kunzru and Slumberland by Paul Beatty [PowerPoint presentation]. British Society for Literature and Science Annual Conference. 7–10 April [Virtual due to COVID-19].
  • Hedges, M. 2021. Noise by Darin Bradley: transmission as trangression, legislation as apologia [PowerPoint presentation]. 52nd Northeast Modern Language Association. 11–14 March, University at Buffalo [Virtual due to COVID-19].
  • Hedges, M. 2021. Laps, loops and landscape: a work in video and sound after Timothy Morton [PowerPoint presentation]. Practice, Process, and Environmental Crisis. 19 February, University of York [Virtual due to COVID-19].
  • Hedges, M. 2020. The end of the song has already happened: the political ecology of pauses in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad [PowerPoint presentation]. Sound Instruments and Sonic Cultures. 14–18 December, National Science and Media Museum, Bradford [Virtual due to COVID-19].
  • Hedges, M. 2019. Modulation by Richard Powers: data compression, prose and digital sound [PowerPoint presentation]. More Than Meets The Ear: Sound & Short Fiction. 19–21 September, University of Vienna [Supported by the FR Leavis Fund].
  • Hedges, M. 2019. Richard Powers: recorded sound, data, error and the novel [PowerPoint presentation]. Postgraduate Summer Forum – POWER. 19 June, University of York.
  • Hedges, M. 2019. The sounds of silence: marginal voices and the auditory in Carpentaria and Midnight's Children [PowerPoint presentation]. Centre for Modern Studies Postgraduate Forum - Subjectivity and Sovereignty: Tracing the Modern through Time and Space. 28 May, University of York.
  • Power, P. and Hedges, M. 2017. Harp Duet. [Poetry and sound]. At: Wakefield Literature Festival, 1 October.
  • Power, P., Akam, D., Power, G. and Hedges, M. 2017. Christl. [Sculpture, video and sound]. At: C-Art Festival: Extraordinary Places, September 9–17.


  • Quilting Points Co-Director, 2021–2022
  • WRoCAH Journal Co-Editor, 2021–2022
  • parallax Associate Editor, 2021– 


  • MA English Literary Studies, University of York, 2019 (Distinction)
  • BA English Language and Literature, University of Sheffield, 2014 (First-Class Honours)