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Modernist SoundscapesAuditory Technology and the Novel$
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Angela Frattarola

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056074

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056074.001.0001

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The Modernist Soundscape

The Modernist Soundscape

Ocularcentrism and Auditory Technologies

(p.16) 1 The Modernist Soundscape
Modernist Soundscapes

Angela Frattarola

University Press of Florida

Chapter 1 questions why the early twentieth-century soundscape was called by its contemporaries “the age of noise,” and considers how the changing soundscape influenced listening practices. In particular, auditory technologies altered sound perception by creating new paths for intimacy, by exposing listeners to a cosmopolitan and bohemian world of new sounds, and by aestheticizing noise and sound through mechanical reproduction. Yet, why else might modernist literature emphasize sound in ways that the previous generation did not? Scholars such as Steven Connor, Jonathan Sterne, David Michael Levin, and Don Ihde hold that auditory experience has been neglected in modernity and philosophy, where sight is traditionally privileged. More importantly, some of these writers suggest that while the eye has a tendency to be distancing and analytical, the ear has the potential to connect humans to one another and their environment. Building on Martin Jay’s argument that a skepticism of vision began with turn-of-the-century thinkers, such as Henri Bergson, and modernist artists, this chapter argues that modernists include the auditory as a way of subverting visual-based notions of rationality and subjectivity rooted in antiquity and the Enlightenment.

Keywords:   Martin Jay, Age of noise, Enlightenment, Skepticism, Bohemian, Cosmopolitan, Henri Bergson

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