Research

“Sounding Print Culture, 1953-1968”

Sounds of EarthPost-World War II America went through an extreme technological shift. The record player, telephone, and, soon, the television would all become household items by the mid-1950s. My dissertation focuses on a fifteen-year period, a period of rapid social, cultural, and technological change. From 1953 to 1968, America went through the Red Scare and McCarthyism, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, and would soon be embroiled in conversations about sexuality after the Stonewall riots of 1969.

My dissertation examines the influence of sound as it problematizes poetic production after World War II. The possibility of reproducing the poetic voice becomes a site of tension for poetic communities in America, and poetic communities respond differently to the encroachment of technological reproducibility. This encroachment affects the ways in which poetry can be created, leaving room for the actual voice of the poet to be problematized. The printed word is one site for teasing out the complications of the technologically reproduced poetic voice, and the mid-century periodical is, surprisingly, the most apt site for reconstructing the debates around oral versus written poetry.

I use the “little magazine” as primary textual evidence for developing a theory of “sonic textuality.” The “little magazine,” or the poetry magazine that speaks to a specific coterie audience (whose distribution never reaches more than 500 copies per issue), started in the early 20th century with magazines like Poetry and The Little Review. However, the mid-century little magazine is the prime site for teasing out questions of the place of sound in 20th century poetry. I use methods found in sound studies, a relatively new interdisciplinary field with roots in media studies, to examine the fifteen-year period.