Guest researcher profile: Whitney Johnson


Whitney Johnson is a guest researcher from Chicago, USA. Her research is within the field of gender, technology and auditory culture, and she will be based at the Centre for Gender Research January-March 2022. 

Whitney Johnson. Photo credit: Maria Tzeka.


School of the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Chicago

My dissertation explored the world of sound art, asking how artists and others make decisions about aesthetic value. I considered how they use their bodies, texts, and organizations to determine what are considered to be "good" works of art. After finishing my PhD in 2018 at the University of Chicago in the Sociology Department, I've continued teaching there and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for the past couple years. Two of my favorite recurring courses are "Gender: Theory and Action," an introduction to gender theory paired with social movements, and "Sounding Bodies," a sound studies course connecting auditory perception with social identity. I also teach general social science courses and studio methods in sound art. 

In this next phase of my research, I'm looking more closely at the ways that bodies perceive and create sound, with particular attention to gender. When it comes to identity representation in auditory culture (i.e. music, sound art, etc.), I want to understand how gender is represented through different technologies and how we can understand the political significance of that representation. I'm hoping to focus a future qualitative project on trans, non-binary, and intersex musicians and sound artists to explore these questions.

On a personal note, I'm also a musician (primarily a violist), and my grandfather was from Sweden!

Research interests: 
Sound, phenomenology, gender, trans and intersex studies, sensory perception, social aesthetics

Recent publications: 

Last modified: 2021-09-10