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List of Figures ix List of Abbreviations for Archival and Other Historical Materials Cited xi Acknowledgments xiii Hello! 1 1. Machines to Hear for Them 31 2. Techniques of Listening 87 3. Audible Technique and Media 137 4. Plastic Aurality: Technologies into Media 179 5. The Social Genesis of Sound Fidelity 215 6. A Resonant Tomb 287 Conclusion: Audible Futures 335 Notes 353 Bibliography 415 Index 437
Cultural study of the development of sound technology in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from telephones and stethoscopes to record players.
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.
"[Sterne's] prose moves gracefully and nimbly beneath the academic robes... and the topic is so intimately connected to the way we experience the world around us that it can't help resonating... Forget what you think you know about ours being a visual culture, in which sight is the privileged sense."--Ruth Walker, Christian Science Monitor "[C]omprehensive... [I]nterdisciplinary... The author carefully presents his thoughtful perspectives against a background of key events, persons, and occasions... Recommended."--J. R. Heintze, Choice "The Audible Past seeks to deflate the notion that we have always listened to the world in the same way... [S]o rich in ideas that the general reader, with a bit of work, will unearth many rewards."--Christopher DeLaurenti, Signal to Noise "The Audible Past is a valuable contribution in an important field of research that is in dire need of development."--Michael Punt, Leonardo "[P]rovocative... Sterne breaks new ground, focusing on the need to understand sound and listening as issues of history."--Leon Botstein, Los Angeles Times "This is an important study that creates some pioneering theoretical constructs within which to place specifics of technological development... Recommended!"--Chris Sterling, Communication Booknotes Quarterly "[A] stimulating and provocative work... Sterne excels as a writer... [T]his book will amply reward readers who want a broader perspective on the culture of sound. Sterne's book will no doubt reach the wide readership it deserves."--David Hochfelder, Business History Review "[A] remarkable book... While not a sociologist, Sterne displays a rich sociological imagination. Though he des not extensively frame his account within sociological theory, his analysis has a highly sophisticated interplay of cultural, technological, class, economic, and institutional factors, interwoven into a vivid fabric of insight. And it is not inconsequential that this book is more fun than many a read."--William G. Roy, Contemporary Sociology "[E]ngaging... By historicizing terms that others have naturalized, such as listening and hearing Sterne has created a useful guide to combining both existing secondary sources and new archival materials into a road map for further study of media and modernity."--Gregory J. Downey, Journal of American History "[P]rovides an insightful analysis of the various practices, institutions, and theories surrounding sound and hearing... As we continue to develop ideas and scholarship around the notion of cyberculture, historical studies such as The Audible Past will continue to be extremely important for an understanding of how specific types of media (sound, still and moving image, text, virtuality) inform, enhance, and plasticize ideas about networked multimedia environments."--Daniel Gilfillan, Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies "This book ... makes an important contribution to the study of sound technology. It helps to place the history of sound within the cluttered context of social and cultural change."--James P. Kraft, American Historical Review "The Audible Past is a highly original contribution to the new field of sound studies, and a must-read for the growing number of scholars who combine an interest in the history of technology with an interest in media studies. What's more: it is a book for everyone willing to read something inspiring."-- Karin Busterveld, Technology and Culture "The Audible Past generates new ideas and raises pertinent questions about an under-examined media form... It lays the ground work for a new approach to analyzing sound reproduction technologies and listening techniques, and will hopefully serve as a stepping stone enticing others to approach historical sound research from a theoretical perspective."--Andrea-Jane Cornell, Lisa Gaisor and Andra McCartney, Topia "[M]eticulously researched... One of the book's most significant achievements is that it revisits a fairly well-worn territory, finds a new and noteworthy story to tell about that territory, and manages to open up a sizable vein of important, yet unexplored, questions about that territory for future research."--Gilbert B. Rodman, Cultural Studies "[E]xcellent... [A] critical and long-overdue intervention... [B]rilliant... Sterne's research is wide ranging and impressive... This is a book that all scholars of sound should read, to overturn some of our neat assumptions about sound and its technological and cultural manifestations and to clear the ground for new approaches."--Michele Hilmes, American Quarterly Mentioned in a New York Times review of another book. Abstract in Bad Subjects. Listed in CHE and Biography. Interviewed on NPR's "Weekend Edition" and WBEZ's "Odyssey." Also reviewed in Journalism and Mass Communication Educator.