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Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies

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This is the first scholarly work to examine the cultural significance of the "talking book" since the invention of the phonograph in 1877, the earliest machine to enable the reproduction of the human voice. Recent advances in sound technology make this an opportune moment to reflect on the evolution of our reading practices since this remarkable invention. Some questions a This is the first scholarly work to examine the cultural significance of the "talking book" since the invention of the phonograph in 1877, the earliest machine to enable the reproduction of the human voice. Recent advances in sound technology make this an opportune moment to reflect on the evolution of our reading practices since this remarkable invention. Some questions addressed by the collection include: How does auditory literature adapt printed texts? What skills in close listening are necessary for its reception? What are the social consequences of new listening technologies? In sum, the essays gathered together by this collection explore the extent to which the audiobook enables us not just to hear literature but to hear it in new ways. Bringing together a set of reflections on the enrichments and impoverishments of the reading experience brought about by developments in sound technology, this collection spans the earliest adaptations of printed texts into sound by Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and other novelists from the late nineteenth century to recordings by contemporary figures such as Toni Morrison and Barack Obama at the turn of the twenty-first century. As the voices gathered here suggest, it is time to give a hearing to one of the most talked about new media of the past century.


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This is the first scholarly work to examine the cultural significance of the "talking book" since the invention of the phonograph in 1877, the earliest machine to enable the reproduction of the human voice. Recent advances in sound technology make this an opportune moment to reflect on the evolution of our reading practices since this remarkable invention. Some questions a This is the first scholarly work to examine the cultural significance of the "talking book" since the invention of the phonograph in 1877, the earliest machine to enable the reproduction of the human voice. Recent advances in sound technology make this an opportune moment to reflect on the evolution of our reading practices since this remarkable invention. Some questions addressed by the collection include: How does auditory literature adapt printed texts? What skills in close listening are necessary for its reception? What are the social consequences of new listening technologies? In sum, the essays gathered together by this collection explore the extent to which the audiobook enables us not just to hear literature but to hear it in new ways. Bringing together a set of reflections on the enrichments and impoverishments of the reading experience brought about by developments in sound technology, this collection spans the earliest adaptations of printed texts into sound by Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and other novelists from the late nineteenth century to recordings by contemporary figures such as Toni Morrison and Barack Obama at the turn of the twenty-first century. As the voices gathered here suggest, it is time to give a hearing to one of the most talked about new media of the past century.

18 review for Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    I have tried audiobooks and found that they require immense feats of concentration. Of course. It is easy to get through a book and convince oneself every word was listened to. :) Studies seem to confirm my impression about how difficult it is to 'read' with audiobooks... and how easy it is to fool oneself: Your Brain On Audio Books: Distracted, Forgetful, And Bored Of all the ways to enjoy a book, minds wander most when we're listening to someone else read it. Your mind wanders when y I have tried audiobooks and found that they require immense feats of concentration. Of course. It is easy to get through a book and convince oneself every word was listened to. :) Studies seem to confirm my impression about how difficult it is to 'read' with audiobooks... and how easy it is to fool oneself: Your Brain On Audio Books: Distracted, Forgetful, And Bored Of all the ways to enjoy a book, minds wander most when we're listening to someone else read it. Your mind wanders when you listen to audio books, but that could be a problem or a perk. What do you think of the literary listening experience? … Still, for many audio book devotees, the cognitive costs of retaining material or developing focus will be worth the convenience of incorporating books into other parts of their daily lives. The ability to listen and daydream and still complete a chore might be exactly the point. "I think people are just comfortable with that kind of tradeoff," Smilek says. Books are at their best when they take us somewhere, but taking them somewhere with us is a fine consolation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily Kandzierski

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doris F.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aloha

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

  6. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Mackey

  7. 4 out of 5

    Siebe

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Langley

  9. 4 out of 5

    Viollette Tao

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jake

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurent Güdel

  13. 5 out of 5

    J L

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Barakat

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Mcdonough

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rosana López

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lindsy Lawrence

  18. 4 out of 5

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