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Sound Technology and the American Cinema


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Table of Contents

1. Inscriptions and Simulations: The Imagination of Technology 2. Performance, Inscription, Diegesis: The Technological Transformation of Representational Causality 3. Everything But the Kitchen Sync: Sound and Image Before the Talkies 4. Sound Theory 5. Standards and Practices: Aesthetic Norm and Technological Innovation in the American Cinema 6. Sound Space and Classical Narrative

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Representational technologies including photography, phonography, and the cinema have helped define modernity itself. Since the nineteenth century, these technologies have challenged our trust of sensory perception, given the ephemeral unprecedented parity with the eternal, and created profound temporal and spatial displacements. But current approaches to representational and cultural history often neglect to examine these technologies. James Lastra seeks to remedy this neglect. Lastra argues that we are nowhere better able to track the relations between capital, science, and cultural practice than in photography, phonography, and the cinema. In particular, he maps the development of sound recording from its emergence to its confrontation with and integration into the Hollywood film. Reaching back into the late eighteenth century, to natural philosophy, stenography, automata, and human physiology, Lastra follows the shifting relationships between our senses, technology, and representation.

About the Author

James Lastra is associate professor of English at the University of Chicago.


"An interesting scholarly account of the rise of early film sound technologies... fascinating in its discussion of how sound practice, particularly in the accounts of film sound engineers, complicates and grounds sound theory." -- "Review of Communication"

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