Because it can be difficult to describe and analyze such an abstract concept as sound, some of the reading for this class will be more philosophical and/or challenging in argument, content, or style than you may be used to, though potentially more rewarding as well. I have tried to balance some of this more demanding reading with more accessible texts. Please be aware that none of the reading is optional.

Required Texts

[SSR] = Sterne, Jonathan, ed. The Sound Studies Reader. Routledge, 2012. ISBN: 9780415771313.

[Picker] = Picker, John. Victorian Soundscapes. Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780195151916. [Preview with Google Books]

[Shaw] = Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion. Edited by Leonard Connolly. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2008. ISBN: 9780713679977.

Beckett, Samuel. Krapp's Last Tape and Other Dramatic Pieces. Grove Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780802144416. [Preview with Google Books]

[Sterne] = Sterne, Jonathan. MP3: The Meaning of a Format. Duke University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780822352877. [Preview with Google Books]

[M&D] = McLeod, Kembrew, and Peter DiCola. Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling. Duke University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780822348757. [Preview with Google Books]

[Katz] = Katz, Mark. Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music. University of California Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780520261051. [Preview with Google Books]

Hearing and Listening in Modernity

[SSR] Ihde, Don. "The Auditory Dimension." pp. 23–8.

[SSR] Attali, Jacques. "Noise: The Political Economy of Music." pp. 29–39.


[SSR] Berland, Jody. "Contradicting Media: Toward a Political Phenomenology of Listening." pp. 40–7.

[SSR] Chion, Michel. "The Three Listening Modes." pp. 48–53.

[SSR] Goodman, Steve. "The Ontology of Vibrational Force." pp. 70–2.


[SSR] Mills, Mara. "Hearing Aids and the History of Electronics Miniaturization." pp. 73–8.

[SSR] Crawford, Kate. "Following You: Disciplines of Listening in Social Media." pp. 79–90.

Soundscapes: Prehistorical, Architectural, Urban, and Industrial

[SSR] Schafer, R. Murray. "The Soundscape." pp. 95–103.

[SSR] Blesser, Barry, and Linda-Ruth Salter. "Ancient Acoustic Spaces." pp. 186–96.

[SSR] Rath, Richard Cullen. "No Corner for the Devil To Hide." pp. 130-140. Also available in How Early America Sounded. Cornell University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780801472725. [Preview with Google Books]


[Picker] Picker, John. "Introduction." pp. 3–14.

[SSR] Picker. "The Soundproof Study." pp. 141–51, and see also [Picker] pp. 41–81.

[SSR] Thompson, Emily. "Sound, Modernity and History." pp. 117–29.


[SSR] Bijsterveld, Karin. "Listening to Machines: Industrial Noise, Hearing Loss and the Cultural Meaning of Sound." pp. 152–67.

[SSR] Bull, Michael. "The Audio-Visual iPod." pp. 197–208.

Aural Media Communities I: Stethoscope through Phonograph

Sterne, Jonathan. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Duke University Press, 2003. pp. 310–51, and 99–117.

Listen to Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville's phonautograph recordings at These are the earliest audio recordings, made circa 1860 and recovered in 2008.

Listen to Volta Laboratory Associates' experimental disc recordings, which are among the earliest disc recordings, made 1880–85 and recovered in 2011. Available at Early Sound Recording Collection and Sound Recovery Project: Smithsonian Institute.

8 Picker, John. "Aural Anxieties and the Advent of Modernity." In The Victorian World. Edited by Martin Hewitt. Routledge, 2012, pp. 603–18. ISBN: 9780415491877.

Edison, Thomas. "The Phonograph and Its Future." (PDF) North American Review 126 (1878): 527-536.

[SSR] Kittler, Friedrich. "Gramophone." pp. 234–47.


[SSR] Gitelman, Lisa. "The Phonograph's New Media Publics." pp. 283–303.

[Picker] "The Recorded Voice from Victorian Aura to Modernist Echo." pp. 110–45

Speech, Sound Media, and the Talkies

[Shaw] All.

[Shaw] "The Endings of Pygmalion."

grummorsum. "Pygmalion." May 7, 2010. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

12 Watch The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Directed by Fritz Lang. Black & white, 122 min. 1933.
Aural Media Communities II: Telephone—Radio-Tape

Twain, Mark. "A Telephonic Conversation." (PDF) Atlantic Monthly 45 (1880): 841-43.

Kafka, Franz. "My Neighbor." The Complete Stories. Edited by Nahum N. Glatzer. Schocken Books, 1995. pp. 424-25. ISBN: 9780805210552.

[Picker] "George Eliot's Ear." pp. 82–109.

[SSR] Martin, Michèle. "Gender and Early Telephone Culture." pp. 336–50.

[SSR] Peters, John Durham. "The Telephonic Uncanny and the Problem of Communication." pp. 363–71.


[SSR] Hilmes, Michelle. "Radio and the Imagined Community." pp. 351–62.

Sconce, Jeffrey. "The 'Panic' Broadcast." Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television. Duke University Press, 2000. pp. 110-118. ISBN: 9780822325727. [Preview with Google Books]

Listen to: The War of the Worlds. Starring Orson Welles. 60 min. Mercury Theatre, 1938.


Picker. "Transatlantic Acousmatics." podcast (scroll down for link).

15 Watch: Citizen Kane. Directed by Orson Welles. Black & white, 119 min. 1941.

Beckett, Samuel. Krapp's Last Tape and Other Dramatic Pieces. Grove Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780802144416. [Preview with Google Books]

Beckett, Samuel. "Krapp's Last Tape." Jan 19, 2010. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

17 Watch: The Conversation. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Color, 113 min, 1974.
Noise, Silence, and Sampling, from Avant-Garde to Mainstream

[SSR] Kahn, Douglas. "Noises of the Avant-Garde." pp. 427–48.

Russolo, Luigi. "The Art of Noises: Futurist Manifesto." 1913.

Cage, John. "The Future of Music: Credo." 1937.

Cage, John. "Water Walk." May 4, 2007. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Cage. 4'33" (1976 performance excerpt).

Cage. "Williams Mix." Mar 11, 2009. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Kozinn, Allan. "John Cage Recital? Take the A Train," New York Times, August 8, 2012.


[M&D] "A Legal and Cultural History of Sound Collage." pp. 36-74.

Reich, Steve. "It's Gonna Rain." Mar 4, 2009. Vimeo. Accessed April 17, 2013.

The Beatles. "Tomorrow Never Knows." May 16, 2011. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Buchanan, and Goodman. "The Flying Saucer." Apr 15, 2011. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Buchanan, and Goodman. "Buchanan and Goodman On Trial". 1956. Available on Myspace.

De La Soul. "The Magic Number." Jul 26, 2009. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.


[Katz] "Music in 1s and 0s: The Art and Politics of Digital Sampling." pp. 146-176.

Paul Lansky. "Notjustmoreidlechatter." Jan 13, 2010. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Camille Yarbrough. "Take Yo' Praise." Apr 17, 2010 YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Fatboy Slim. "Praise You." May 18, 2010. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Public Enemy. "Fight the Power." Sep 1, 2008. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Ben E. King. "Stand By Me."(mashup) Mar 25, 2011. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.

Global Sonic Cultures

[SSR] Fanon, Frantz. "This is the Voice of Algeria." pp. 329–35.

[SSR] Hirschkind, Charles. "Cassette Sermons, Aural Modernities and the Islamic Revival in Cairo." pp. 54–6.

[SSR] Meintjes, Louise. "The Recording Studio as Fetish." pp. 265–82.

22 [SSR] Helmreich, Stefan. "An Anthropologist Underwater: Immersive Soundscapes, Submarine Cyborgs and Transductive Ethnography." pp. 168–85.
Digital Audio, Piracy, and Portability
23 [Sterne] "Format Theory", and chapter 3: "Perceptual Coding and the Domestication of Noise." pp. 1–31, and 92–127.

[Sterne] Chapter 3 continued, and chapter 5: "Of MPEG, Measurement, and Men." pp. 148–83.

Vega, Suzanne. "Tom's Diner." Aug 15, 2011. YouTube. Accessed April 17, 2013.


[Katz] "Listening in Cyberspace." pp. 177-210.

[Sterne] Chapter 6: "Is Music a Thing?" and "The End of MP3." pp. 184–246.

Watch/Listen to: Kline, Phil. "Unsilent Night."