Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Overview

During the twentieth century sound underwent a dramatic transformation as new technologies and social practices challenged conventional aural experience. As a result, sound functioned as a means to exert social, cultural, and political power in unprecedented and unexpected ways. The fleeting nature of sound has long made it a difficult topic for historical study, but innovative scholars have recently begun to analyze the sonic traces of the past using innovative approaches. Sound in the Age of Mechanical ...

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Overview

During the twentieth century sound underwent a dramatic transformation as new technologies and social practices challenged conventional aural experience. As a result, sound functioned as a means to exert social, cultural, and political power in unprecedented and unexpected ways. The fleeting nature of sound has long made it a difficult topic for historical study, but innovative scholars have recently begun to analyze the sonic traces of the past using innovative approaches. Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction investigates sound as part of the social construction of historical experience and as an element of the sensory relationship people have to the world, showing how hearing and listening can inform people's feelings, ideas, decisions, and actions.

The essays in Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction uncover the varying dimensions of sound in twentieth-century history. Together they connect a host of disparate concerns, from issues of gender and technology to contests over intellectual property and government regulation. Topics covered range from debates over listening practices and good citizenship in the 1930s, to Tokyo Rose and Axis radio propaganda during World War II, to CB-radio culture on the freeways of Los Angeles in the 1970s. These and other studies reveal the contingent nature of aural experience and demonstrate how a better grasp of the culture of sound can enhance our understanding of the past.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This collection sets in relief the political economy of sound—from record players to radios—in the twentieth century, but the authors also treat the ancillary participants, including music critics, advertising agencies, editors and writers of newspapers, lawyers, and radio performers. It is multicultural historical analysis at its best."—Journal of American History
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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Suisman is Associate Professor of History at the University of Delaware and is author of Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music. Susan Strasser is Professor of History at the University of Delaware and the author of Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Thinking Historically About Sound and Sense
—David Suisman

PART I: AFFECT AND THE POLITICS OF LISTENING
1. Distracted Listening: On Not Making Sound Choices in the 1930s
—David Goodman
2. ''Her Voice a Bullet'': Imaginary Propaganda and the Legendary Broadcasters of World War II
—Ann Elizabeth Pfau and David Hochfelder
3. ''Savage Dissonance'': Gender, Voice, and Women's Radio Speech in Argentina, 1930-1945
—Christine Ehrick

PART II: SONIC OBJECTS
4. Collectors, Bootleggers, and the Value of Jazz, 1930-1952
—Alex Cummings
5. High-Fidelity Sound as Spectacle and Sublime, 1950-1961
—Eric D. Barry

PART III: HEARING ORDER
6. Occupied Listeners: The Legacies of Interwar Radio for France During World War II
—Derek W. Vaillant
7. An Audible Sense of Order: Race, Fear, and CB Radio on Los Angeles Freeways in the 1970s
—Angela M. Blake
PART IV: SOUND COMMERCE
8. ''The People's Orchestra'': Jukeboxes as the Measure of Popular Musical Taste in the 1930s and 1940s
—Chris Rasmussen
9. Sounds Local: The Competition for Space and Place in Early U.S. Radio
—Bill Kirkpatrick
10. The Sound of Print: Newspapers and the Public Promotion of Early Radio Broadcasting in the United States
—Michael Stamm

Notes
List of Contributors
Index
Acknowledgments

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