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Assistant Professor | Glenfraser Endowed Professor
Milena Droumeva is an Assistant Professor and the Glenfraser Endowed Professor in Sound Studies at Simon Fraser University specializing in mobile technologies, sound studies and multimodal ethnography. She has worked extensively in educational research on game-based learning and computational literacy, formerly as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Research on Digital Learning at York University. Milena has a background in acoustic ecology and works across the fields of urban soundscape research, sonification for public engagement, as well as gender and sound in video games. Milena is part of the Vancouver Soundwalking Collective and has been involved in acoustic ecology, recording and soundscape research for over 14 years. Current research interests include sound ethnographies of the city, mobile cultural practices, sound in social media, sonification of social and environmental data, as well as game sound histories and design. Milena is part of Re-FIG, an international SSHRC-funded partnership exploring women's participation in gaming, working on a transmedia historical analysis of gendered sonic archetypes in games.
Milena is a former board member of the International Community on Auditory Displays, an alumni of the Institute for Research on Digital Learning at York University, and a current Research Think-Tank and Academic Advisor in learning innovation for the social enterprise InWithForward. Most recently, Milena serves on the board and is a collaborator for the Hush City Mobile Project founded by Dr. Antonella Radicchi, and WISWOS, founded by Dr. Linda O Keeffe.
- PhD Simon Fraser University (Education)
- MA Simon Fraser University Surrey (Interactive Arts and Technology)
Future courses may be subject to change.
Peer-reviewed / Journal articles / Chapters
- Droumeva, M. & Murphy, D. (2018) A Pedagogy of Listening: Writing with/in Media Texts, in Soundwriting Pedagogies, Eds. Courtney S. Danforth, Kyle D. Stedman, & Michael J.Faris. CCDigitalPress.
- Droumeva, M. (2017). The Coffee-office: urban soundscapes for creative productivity. BC Studies Journal, Soundscape section
- Jenson, J. & Droumeva, M. (2017). “Revisiting the Media Generation: Youth Media Use and Computational Literacy Instruction” E-Learning and Digital Media, 14(3-4), SAGE.
- Droumeva, M. (2017). Soundmapping as Critical Cartography: Engaging Publics in Listening to the Environment. Special Issue of Communication and the Public. pp.1-17. DOI:
- Jenson, J., de Castell, S., Muehrer, R. & M. Droumeva (2016). So you think you can play: An exploratory study of music video games. Journal of Music, Technology & Education, 9(3): 273-288.
- Droumeva, M. (2015). Curating Everyday Life: Approaches to Documenting Everyday Soundscapes. M/C: Journal of Media and Culture, Vol 18(4).
- Jenson, J., de Castell, S. & M. Droumeva (2015). Command and Conquer: Violence in Videogames. In Schmid, D. (Ed.) Violence in American Popular Culture. Vol.1. Praeger Publishing.
- de Castell, S., Droumeva, M. & Jenson, J. (2014). Building as Interface: Sustainable Educational Ecologies. MedienPädagogik, 24. Zurich University.
- Jenson, J., N. Taylor, S. de Castell, M. Droumeva, S. Fisher (2011) Baroque, Baroque Revolution. New Rules for an Old Game. In Ed. Myint Swe Khine, Playful Teaching, Learning Games: New Tools for Digital Classrooms (pp. 65-86). Sense Publishers.
- Droumeva, M., Andrisani, V. & J. Schine (2010) Emerging Voices: Extending the Canadian Perspective. Soundscape: Journal for Acoustic Ecology, 8(1).
- Droumeva, M. (2011) An Acoustic Communication Framework for Game Sound – Fidelity, Verisimilitude, Ecology. In Ed. Dr. Mark Grimshaw. Game Sound Technology and Player Interaction: Concepts and Developments, London, UK: IGI Publishing.
- Droumeva, M. (2018). Voice and Gender in Games: What can we do with spectrograms, Media Commons, March 9, 2018
- Droumeva, M., Evans, K., Fertado, N., and R. Bangert (2017). It Gets Worse…The Female Voice in Videogames. First Person Scholar.
- Droumeva, M. & A. Trammell (2015) Sound and Sexuality in Videogames. [Podcast] Sounding Out! Blog.
- Droumeva, M. (2015) How Design Thinking can Inform your Pedagogy. InWithForward Blog / Publications.
- Droumeva, M. (2015) Sensory Postcards: Using Mobile Media for Digital Ethnographies. EthnographyMatters.
- Droumeva, M. (2015). Why There Will Never Be Instagram for Audio. Canadian Association for Sound Ecology (CASE).
- Droumeva, M. & M. McBride (2015) Making sense, sensing space: an inter-sensory walk & workshop. Invited co-facilitator through RE/Lab (Responsive Ecologies Lab) Ryerson University, Nov. 9, 2015 (via Melanie McBride)
- Droumeva, M. (2015) Gamergate: Women in Game Culture and Nerd Spaces. Invited speaker for the Media Democracy Day Collaboratory series. Vancouver, BC, March 16.
- Droumeva, M. (2014) Listening with Technology: The ecology of Cultural Participation, Invited Keynote address for the inaugural conference Urban Soundscapes and Critical Citizenship, University of Limerick, Ireland, March 27-28th, 2014 (via Dr. Mikael Förnstrom)
Listening to the City
In 1977 R. Murray Schafer, a then-SFU professor in the fledgling Communications Department, along with a small group of researchers, embarked on a project of sound and listening to the urban environment: a project that initiated the fields of acoustic ecology and soundscape studies. In the following decades, inquiries into sound have proliferated and cut across countless areas including environmental concerns, social issues, media and communication studies, and more recently - the anthropocene. Sound studies - a term more recently introduced by Dr. Jonathan Sterne - represents a way of approaching research by asking: what can sound tell us about our culture, our environment, our society? How do we listen and what kind of listeners are we? Many, including our own Canadian theorists of communication, have celebrated engaging sound as a way of disrupting narratives bound up in visualist, modernist culture. This larger project of "Listenign to the City" combines sensory ethnography and digital media to explore listening as intervention into city life, urban planning, and the experience of sonic livability in relation to economic, geographic, or social inequalities. Work related to this project is featured at an annual symposium called Livable Cities, held at the Anvil Centre, City of New Westminster.
Gender and Sound in Games
Media tropes such as the horror movie scream, the "valley girl" up-speak, and most recently the vocal fry have established themselves both as gendered archetypes of female voices and as forms of policing the inclusion of women in public media. A marked absence in this emergent conversation are female voices and "feminized" sounds in games: by virtue of being sound "effects" they draw on and solidify some of the most deeply entrenched gendered norms of sound design and voicing. Is it any surprise then that female public voices in the culture of video games garner some of the most vitriolic and misogynist responses? The bigger question that this project asks is, how are the power dynamics of voice, including silencing and speaking out reflective of and constituted by the actual media representations of women’s voices, "feminized" sound effects and soundscapes that are part of game texts and the gaming experience. In other words, what can attention to game sound illuminate about the replication of gendered representations across different media and media ecologies? This case study project on the battle cry - a sound effect that evokes specifically gendered, at times racialized and (over)sexualized connotations. Following a transmedia history approach, we've looked at iterations of the battle cry across three iconic series in the genre of fighting arcade games: Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Soul Calibur. This RefigSSHRC-funded work is described in a short education video (see above) and you can read more about it here, as part of First Person Scholar, an academic gaming blog.
Sonification for Public Engagement
This project explores the use of sound to communicate socially and environmentally significant data in ways that both complement and critique the increasingly popular role that infographics and data visualization have in disseminating information to the wider public. Sonification involves the conversion of data to sound, a practice that has so far been deployed in fairly specific scientific and professional contexts with a specialized listener in mind. Emergent and especially artistic work, however, suggests that sound may afford unique ways of representing large-scale data in ways suitable for raising public awareness of important current issues. This project aims to explore the unique ways in which sonification operates in the context of environmental communication, with a particular emphasis on issues surrounding climate in cities across Canada.