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Sonic ModernityRepresenting Sound in Literature, Culture and the Arts$
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Sam Halliday

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748627615

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627615.001.0001

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Introduction: the Sonic Cultures of Modernity

Introduction: the Sonic Cultures of Modernity

(p.1) Introduction: the Sonic Cultures of Modernity
Sonic Modernity

Sam Halliday

Edinburgh University Press

The Introduction provides a preliminary survey of ways in sound is represented in modernist literature, and other arts, and also surveys major theorisations of the ‘modernity’ of modern sound. Understanding sound and hearing as historical obliges consideration of ways the senses in general, and the senses’ objects, may be considered in this way; the Introduction offers this consideration via such protagonists such as Marcel L’Herbier (whose film L’Inhumaine is the Introduction’s opening exhibit), Wagner, Adorno, Benjamin, and Proust. Wagner’s aesthetic theory is identified as especially important for understanding modernist approaches to sound and music, including even those that are anti-Wagnerian or not explicitly in dialogue with the composer’s work. Amongst more recent theorists, Pierre Schaeffer, James Lastra and Douglass Kahn are identified as especially important for identifying features and varieties of modern sound: the first via his concept of the ‘acousmatic’; the second by drawing attention to the significance of sound’s mechanical capture and reproduction; and the third for his conception of ‘all sound.’ This last category is elucidated via James Joyce’s Ulysses; other texts discussed in the Introduction include Joyce’s Chamber Music, Woolf’s Between the Acts and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.

Keywords:   The senses, Wagner, L’Herbier, Proust, Joyce, Sound technology

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