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Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France, 1921-1939


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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Radio broadcasting and the soundscape of interwar life; 2. Disabled veterans, radio citizenship, and the politics of national recovery; 3. Cosmopolitanism and cacophony: static, signals, and the making of a 'radio nation'; 4. Learning by ear: popular front politics, school radio, and the pedagogy of listening; 5. Dangerous airwaves: propaganda, surveillance, and the politics of listening in French Colonial Algeria; Conclusion: Paris-Mondial: globalizing the voice of France; Bibliography; Index.

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Explores how radio broadcasting and the emerging audio culture transformed the dynamics of French politics during the tumultuous interwar decades.

About the Author

Rebecca P. Scales is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York.


'Well-written and meticulously researched, this is an innovative, interdisciplinary study which goes beyond traditional institutional histories to provide a more nuanced understanding of how radio came to be a vital part of French culture in the inter-war years.' Jeffrey H. Jackson, Rhodes College

'This is a rich and innovative study in French cultural history and, more broadly, an important contribution to the emerging history of aural cultures and soundscapes.' Simon Potter, University of Bristol

'Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France, 1921–1939 stands at the intersection of several fascinating areas of historical research: the history of technology, the history of modern culture, and the history of sensation. Rebecca P. Scales argues persuasively that the deafening cacophony of combat in World War I and the new noises that came with the transportation revolution in European cities in the 1920s provided the background to early experiences of radio broadcasts, which united the nation in a new way, through sound. This stimulating and well-researched book productively explores the new connections made possible by the emergence of a 'radio nation' in the interwar years.' Joshua Cole, University of Michigan

'… a compelling and relevant study, one that situates radio - and auditory culture more broadly - into the wider narrative of French interwar history … Edifying and engaging with every turn of the page, Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France, 1921–1939 makes a significant contribution to the historical literature on interwar France, and should be of interest to students and scholars in realms ranging from the social history of technology, interwar French domestic and colonial politics, and any aspect of the social and cultural history of the entre deux guerres.' Adam C. Stanley, H-France

'The product of extensive archival research, written in a clear and accessible style and meticulously referenced, it constitutes an excellent complement to those studies of interwar French radio that have a more institutional or content-based focus.' Raymund Kuhn, European History Quarterly

'In Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France, 1921–1939, Rebecca Scales presents a fascinating, interdisciplinary history of how the newly-developing technology of radio came to take on personal, national, and international meaning for French citizens in the years between World War I and World War II … an important contribution to historical sound studies …' Jillian Rogers, Revue de musicology

'… a stellar example of the historian's craft, and a fascinating journey into the auditory and political culture of interwar France.' Jessica Wardhaugh, French Politics, Culture & Society

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