The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction

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Duke University Press, Mar 13, 2003 - Music - 450 pages
4 Reviews
The Audible Past explores the cultural origins of sound reproduction. It describes a distinctive sound culture that gave birth to the sound recording and the transmission devices so ubiquitous in modern life. With an ear for the unexpected, scholar and musician Jonathan Sterne uses the technological and cultural precursors of telephony, phonography, and radio as an entry point into a history of sound in its own right. Sterne studies the constantly shifting boundary between phenomena organized as "sound" and "not sound." In The Audible Past, this history crisscrosses the liminal regions between bodies and machines, originals and copies, nature and culture, and life and death.

Blending cultural studies and the history of communication technology, Sterne follows modern sound technologies back through a historical labyrinth. Along the way, he encounters capitalists and inventors, musicians and philosophers, embalmers and grave robbers, doctors and patients, deaf children and their teachers, professionals and hobbyists, folklorists and tribal singers. The Audible Past tracks the connections between the history of sound and the defining features of modernity: from developments in medicine, physics, and philosophy to the tumultuous shifts of industrial capitalism, colonialism, urbanization, modern technology, and the rise of a new middle class.

A provocative history of sound, The Audible Past challenges theoretical commonplaces such as the philosophical privilege of the speaking subject, the visual bias in theories of modernity, and static descriptions of nature. It will interest those in cultural studies, media and communication studies, the new musicology, and the history of technology.

  

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Review: The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction

User Review  - Matthew Somoroff - Goodreads

This is an engaging read about the rise of sound recording & reproduction technologies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sterne theorizes nearly every analytic move he makes. His analysis ... Read full review

Review: The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction

User Review  - Cambra - Goodreads

50 pages in, inspired this year's halloween costume. Read full review

Contents

Hello
1
Machines to Hear for Them
31
Techniques of Listening
87
Audile Technique and Media
137
Plastic Aurality Technologies into Media
179
The Social Genesis of Sound Fidelity
215
A Resonant Tomb
287
Audible Futures
335
Notes
353
Bibliography
415
Index
437
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Jonathan Sterne teaches in the Department of Communication and the Program for Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He writes about media, technology, and the politics of culture, and is codirector of the online magazine Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life.

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