photo of Kate Lacey

Prof Kate Lacey

Post:Professor of Media History & Theory (Media and Film)

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 872512
International:+44 1273 872512

Research expertise:
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I am Professor of Media History and Theory in the School of Media, Film and Music and, from August 2019, Director of the AHRC DTP Consortium for the Humanities and Arts in South-East England (CHASE) that brings together doctoral training and research across 8 institutions: Birkbeck, the Courtauld Institute, the University of East Anglia, the University of Essex, Goldsmiths, the University of Kent, the School of Oriental and Asian Studies, and the University of Sussex.

I also convene the MA in Media and Cultural Studies at Sussex, and teach a range of modules on media history and theory across both the MA and BA programmes, as well as offering MA and PhD supervision (see Research profile). 

My teaching and research reflect my interests in History, Politics and Communications. After a BA in European Studies (German and Politics) at Queen Mary College, University of London, I did a PhD in German History at the University of Liverpool under the supervision of Prof. Eve Rosenhaft. I also studied for two years in Berlin at both the Free University and the Technical University. This research was published as Feminine Frequencies: Gender, German Radio and the Public Sphere, 1923-1945 (University of Michigan Press, 1996). The book deals with the constitutive role of gender in the development of broadcasting, the role of the media in times of political transition and crisis, and offers a historically grounded critique of public sphere theory. Though I continue to work on broadcasting history, more recently my research has focused on the idea of listening as a cultural practice, a category of critique and a form of political action, e.g. Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age (Polity: 2013).

I have worked at Sussex since 1992, teaching media at first in the School of European Studies, then in the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies and the School of Humanities and now in the School of Media, Film and Music. I was Head of Media from 2005-2012, and Director of Doctoral Studies from 2012-2019. 

Selected conference papers & keynotes:

2019 'Routes for Research at the turn of the Radio Century' Keynote at 'International Perspectives on a Radio Centenary' Institute for Sound and Vision, Hilversum, The Netherlands, November.

2019 'Questioning Convivality: Contradictory Lessons from a Century of Radio' ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association) Radio Research Conference, University of Siena, Italy, September.

2019 'Sound and the Public Sphere: Media and Metaphor' Invited paper to Sound and the Public at the Centre for Sound Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark, August

2019 'Radio's Vernacular Modernism' Invited paper to the Centre for Modern Studies, University of York, January

2018 'Scrapbook for 1948' Invited Paper at 1948: Then and Now University of Sussex, November

2018 'Up in the Air: Where is Radio Studies Now?' Keynote at the Transnational Radio ForumMonash University at Prato, Italy, July

2018 'Slow Radio and the Ethics of Care' Paper at the Transnational Radio Forum, Monash University at Prato, Italy, July

2018 'Media Archaeology and the Politics of Listening' Keynote at Tuned City: Sound, Space, Context Ancient Messene, Greece, June

2018 'At the Receiving End: Postioning Radio Listeners in the Third Reich.' Invited paper for Audiences of Nazism: Media Effects and Responses, 1923-1945. The Weizsäcker Conference, European Studies Center, St Antony's College, University of Oxford, May

2017 ‘Echo Chambers and Cultures of Listening’. Invited paper for Cultural Populism Then and Now: The Work of Jim McGuigan.’ City University, London, December.

2017 'Radio's Venacular Modernism.' Keynote at 'Sound Cultures in the Modern Age' Queen Mary University of London, September.

2017 'The Intricate Intimacies of Women's Radio.' Invited paper for Gender & Transnational Broadcasting,  Bournemouth University, July.

2016 'Listening Publics: Media, Modernity and Citizenship.' Professorial Inaugural Lecture, University of Sussex, November.

2016 Panellist on 'Sound Art-Music' at the Royal College of Art, November.

2016 'Radio and Border-crossing' at The Radio Conference: Transnational Encounters, University of Utrecht, July.

2015 'The Wall of Words: Radio and the Construction of the Berlin Wall, August 1961.' Invited presentation at BBC Monitoring and the Cold War, Imperial War Museum, October.

2015 'Auditory Capital and the Mediatisation of Listening' Invited speaker/respondent at Sound Studies: Art, Politics, Experience at CRASSH (Centre for Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities), University of Cambridge, July. 

2014 'Overpowering Passivity: Mediatized Listening in Perspective'. Invited paper presented to the Graduate Workshop of the School of Communication, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, December

2014 'Listening: A Keyword Overlooked'. The Raymond Williams Annual Lecture Brighton Metropole, November

2014 'Listening and the Media: Variations on a Theme'. Invited paper presented to the Research Seminar of the Department of Music, University of Edinburgh, October

2014 Respondent at Capturing Aesthetics in Everyday Life: Towards a Historiography of Cultural Sensibility in Divided Germany, 1949-1990 symposium, Kings College London, June

2014   'Auditing Radio Histories'. Invited lecture to international symposium on Writing Music-Radio and Music/Radio History University of Copenhagen, June

2014   'Listening in Transnational Contexts'. Keynote at Transnational Infrastructures and Public Spheres symposium, part of the ‘Transnational Radio Encounters’ Network, at the European Broadcasting Union, Geneva, Switzerland, March. Funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area)

2013 Discussant at Smart Publics: Mediation and public engagement with science and technology Seminar of the ‘Publics Then, Now and Beyond Network, University of Sussex, November

2013   'Overpowering Passivity: Radio’s Resilient Refrain'. Opening plenary speaker at Radio, the Resilient Medium ECREA Radio Research Conference, University of Sunderland at London, September

2013   'The Politics of Listening to (Anti) Social Media' Opening plenary speaker at The Radio Conference: A Transnational Forum University of Bedfordshire, July

2013   ‘A Fair Hearing: Listening, Gender and Citizenship in the Weimar Republic’. Invited paper at international symposium on Geschlechterordnung und Politik in der Weimarer Republik at the Fritz-Ebert Gedenkstätte, Heidelberg, July

2013   'Listening in/to Radio History: Lessons for the Digital Age'. Plenary address at What is Radio? Exploring the Past, Present and Future of Radio University of Oregon, Portland, USA, April

2012   'Listening in/to Media History'. Keynote at Addressing the Audience: European Perspectives Centre for Broadcasting History European Conference, University of Bournemouth, May

2012 'Listening with Mother: The Cultivation of Children’s Radio’ ECREA Conference (European Communications Research and Education Association), Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey, May

2011   'From Radio Listening to Television Viewing in the 1950s: Reflections on a Blindspot in Media History'. Plenary paper at the AHRC Symposium, Broadcasting in the 1950s, Grynygog, University of Wales, July

2011   'Speaking Up and Listening Out: Media technologies and the re-sounding of the public sphere'. Keynote at Electrified voices: Medial technical, Socio-historical and Cultural aspects of voice transfer at University of Konstanz, Germany, July

2010   'Paradoxes and Paradigms: Broadcasting and its Publics in the 1930s'. Keynote at ‘Broadcasting in the 1930s: New Media in a Time of Crisis: A Symposium’ at University of Madison-Wisconsin, USA, July

2009   'Listening Overlooked'. Keynote at The Listening Project at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, December



Director of CHASE, the AHRC Consortium for the Humanities and Arts, South-East England (Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership)


Convenor of the MA in Media & Cultural Studies

Co-Convenor (with Prof. Ivor Gaber) of the MA in Journalism & Media Studies