photo of Michael Guida

Dr Michael Guida

Post:Professional Instructor (Media and Film)
Other posts:Research Associate in Media and Cultural Studies (Media and Film)
Location:SILVERSTONE SB 338 Office hour: Tuesday 2-3pm
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I'm a cultural historian with a particular interest in the place of nature in British modernity. At Sussex I teach Media & Cultural Studies modules that include Sound, Culture and Society, Culture and the Everyday, Advertising and Social Change, and Digital Environments.

My first book called Listening to Nature: Wartime, Radio and Modern Life, 1914-1945 will be published next year with Oxford University Press. It argues that to listen to nature's sounds amid the pressures and noise of modernity was a key way to make sense of the changing world. To pay attention to nature was to be modern.

My research interests follow several paths within British culture and society, especially in the first half of the twentieth century including the world wars:

  • The history of nature in culture: ideas about the place of the natural world in modern life and how animals and pets, especially birds, have been invested with meaning in urban and industrial environments
  • BBC representations of the natural world: before Attenborough, BBC radio programming (and John Reith's philosophy of broadcasting) considered pastoral ideals, rural ways and farming, gardening and the study of natural history as valuable parts of British national culture 
  • The history of the idea of 'nature cure': the seaside, the countryside, the mountains along with vegetarianism and nudism as healthy and restorative
  • The senses in the modern world: listening, in particular, as a way to pay attention and understand modern life, technological change and warfare

This follows an AHRC-supported PhD examining how the natural world was heard and interpreted during the pressures of early twentieth-century modernity. 

Publishing and digital media background

Before returning to academia I spent many years working as a writer and editor in public sector and commercial organisations. Most recently, for some 20 years, I worked as a researcher and strategist in the digital media sector for organisations like the London School of Economics, SOAS, the British Council, the Department of Health, NHS Direct, Vodafone, Decca Music and British Airways. 



Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2020).

PhD, Media & Cultural Studies, University of Sussex (2018).

MSc, History of Science, Technology & Medicine, University College London/Imperial College (2012). 

MA, Design for Interactive Media, University of Middlesex (1996).




FORTHCOMING BOOK: Listening to British Nature: Wartime, Radio and Modern Life, 1914-1945 (OUP, 2021).

FORTHCOMING BOOK CHAPTER: 'Strange love: the captive city chorus in Victorian London' in Mike Collier (ed) The Dawn Chorus: Songs of Time and Place (Art Editions North, Bath Spa University and Gaia Publications, 2021)

FORTHCOMING WORKSHOP: with Olga Petri at the University of Cambridge I am organising an international workshop that brings together geographers, historians, anthropologists and others called Winged Geographies: Birds in Space and Imagination (April 2021),

Michael Guida, 'Nature’s sonic order on the Western Front', Transposition. Musique et Sciences Sociales, special issue 'Sound, Music, Violence' (ed) Luis Velasco-Pufleau (Spring 2020).

Michael Guida, '1928. Popular bird-watching becomes scientific: The first national bird census in Britain'. Public Understanding of Science, 2019, 8(5): 622–627.

Book review of Listening in the Field by Joeri Bruyninckx: 'Seeing Birdsong', The Senses and Society, 2019, 14: 100-103.

Michael Guida, 'Ludwig Koch's birdsong on wartime radio: knowledge, citizenship and solace' in Robert Bud, Paul Greenhalgh, Frank James, Morag Shiach (eds) Being Modern: The Cultural Impact of Science in the Early Twentieth Century (London: UCL Press, 2018).

Michael Guida, 'Surviving twentieth century modernity: birdsong and emotions in Britain' in Hilda Kean and Philip Howell (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Animal-Human History (London: Routledge, 2018).

Michael Guida, 'Canaries on the Western Front' for Pet Histories, the AHRC Pets and the Family project blog (2018)

Michael Guida, 'Britain's sonic therapy: listening to birdsong during and after the First World War' for Remedia history of medicine blog (2015)

Conference presentations

  • 'When popular bird-watching became scientific: co-operation and mass observation in Britain', Science Museum research semimar, London, 16th April 2019 
  • 'Listening publics after the Great War', 20s and 30s Network, London, 18th May 2018.
  • '"Ghostly gallows trees" Listening to nature during wartime', Soundcamp, London, 5th May 2018.
  • 'A reordering of the air in war', Large Objects Moving in Air, CRISAP at London College of Communication, 8th January 2018.
  • 'Birdsong and emotions in Britain', Animals and Emotions in History Workshop, Royal Holloway Univerity of London, 17th November 2017. 
  • 'The sounds of nature in support of early 1920s BBC broadcasting', Animal Utterance, Univeristy of Bristol, 26-27th May 2017.
  • 'Sonic therapy: harmony for disordered nerves' Medicine and Modernity In the Long Nineteenth Century, University of Oxford, 10-11th September 2016
  • 'British nature in support of John Reith’s public service broadcasting, 1922-28', Technology, Environment and Modern Britain, UCL, 27th April 2016
  • 'Birdsong and Englishness', Social History Society Conference, Lancaster University, 21st to 23rd March 2016
  • 'Cultures of listening and the restoration of psychological health in early interwar Britain', Aftermath: The Cultural Legacies of WW1, King’s College London, 23rd May 2015 
  • 'Nature cure: birdsong on the wireless during the Second World War', Being Modern: Science and Culture in the Early 20th Century, Institute of Historical Research, London, 24th April 2015
  • 'Silence or music for healing in hospitals? The approaches of Florence Nightingale and Reverend Kill Harford', Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference, University of Exeter, 25th July 2014 

 Study trips and workshops

  • Pasts, Presents and Futures of Medical Regeneration workshop at University of Leeds, with a team led by James Stark, 19th January 2016
  • Invited research paper to Karin Bijsterveld's Sounders Research Group, University of Maastricht, 1 April 2015
  • Music/Noise/Silence workshop series, Science Museum, Royal College of Music and University of Nottingham, February to April, 2015