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The Sonic Episteme


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
1. Neoliberal Noise and the Biopolitics of (Un)Cool: Acoustic Resonance as Political Economy 23
2. Universal Envoicement: Acoustic Resonance as Political Ontology 51
3. Vibration and Diffraction: Acoustic Resonance as Materialist Ontology 87
4. Neoliberal Sophrosyne: Acoustic Resonance as Subjectivity and Personhood 126
5. Social Physics and Quantum Physics: Acoustic Resonance as the Model for a "Harmonious" World 158
Conclusion 181
Notes 185
Bibliography 227
Index 239

About the Author

Robin James is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and author of Resilience and Melancholy: Pop Music, Feminism, Neoliberalism and The Conjectural Body: Gender, Race, and the Philosophy of Music.


"Through skillful and perceptive negotiations among diverse theoretical paradigms and material practices, Robin James articulates a bold thesis about the shift from the visual character of modernity articulated by Foucault to the sonic episteme characteristic of twenty-first-century biopolitical neoliberalism. In James's hands, the sonic episteme becomes a diagnostic tool as well as an all-embracing metaphor of the way the new regime of neoliberal biopower works, its modes of governmentality, and its production of excluded groups. An outstanding book." -- Ewa Plonowska Ziarek, author of * Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism *
"The Sonic Episteme is a fascinating exploration of the problems of neoliberalism and the biopolitical that attends to the ways sound has come to be an object of study. Robin James asks readers to refuse the privileging of any one sense experience by examining the ways what she calls the sonic episteme is a part of neoliberal thought, not a break from it. The Sonic Episteme is about the practice of alternatives to the social order in thought and its epistemological possibilities rather than the search for alternatives emerging from the already given epistemological horizon and thrust of Western thought. As such, James offers a way to think sound studies, race, and material cultures together." -- Ashon T. Crawley, author of * Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility *
"James is an insightful philosopher and sharp cultural critic drawing comparisons between musical phenomena such as compression and the loudness wars, and the damages wreaked by neoliberal market economics." -- Karen D. Tregaskin * The Wire *
"What makes The Sonic Episteme an impressive accomplishment is its academically acceptable reliance on Philosophy combined with a crucial gesture, beyond Philosophy's purview, to commercially successful pop music, which has the potential to present a crucial something else." -- Jeff Heinzl * Spectrum Culture *

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