The 1930s Radio Broadcasts
This chapter begins with an account of Edna St. Vincent Millay's on-air reading series, placing it in two contexts: the early history of broadcasting, and her own performance practices during enormously popular reading tours. Millay's broadcasts occur at an important juncture in radio history in the United States; their timing strongly inflects their meaning. Her radio work also harmonizes with recent scholarship on poetry readings and recordings, in particular the relation between performed and printed poems. The second and third parts of this chapter discuss the relationship between the audiotexts and printed versions of the poems Millay selected for one recorded broadcast. The analysis here focuses on two concerns shared by these pieces and magnified by her style of delivery: tropes of sound and presence; and, more briefly, Millay's engagement with the idea of “naturalness”.
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