Jake Downs (UK)

Life After Ertegun House

The headphone-listening project I began during my time at Ertegun House formed the basis of my Ph.D. proposal to the Department of Music at the University of Sheffield, where I am now a full-time doctoral student (2016– ). My research at Sheffield is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) via the White Rose College for the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH), an organization which straddles the Universities of Sheffield, York, and Leeds. In my work, I explore the complex relationships that exist between humans and technologies, using empirical data-collection techniques as a foundation to wider theoretical work on the ubiquitous cultural phenomenon of headphone listening. My approach places insights and theories from across a wide range of disciplines in tension with one another, from musicology and philosophy to psychology and medical science. 

My methodological desire for multiplicity was certainly borne out of my time at Ertegun House, where the diverse array of perspectives present among the scholarly community influenced my thinking to an enormous degree.

Outside of my academic work, I continue to write and tour as both a solo musician and as part of a number of bands.

I had a wonderful experience as an Ertegun Scholar, and I am so grateful to Mica and her indefatigably supportive team for the generosity I was shown. The scholarship programme encourages such a powerful sense of intellectual collectivity. This magnetism extends far beyond the walls of the House: when I return to Oxford, I often see Professor Ward-Perkins, the previous Director, riding here and there on his trusty bicycle, and it is lovely to stop and chat.