The Science of Sound: Recording Technology and the Literary Vanguard
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This project is a comparative study of Irish and Latin American modernisms and the literary responses to the advent of recorded sound. It focuses particularly on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, Leopoldo Lugones's short stories "La fuerza omega" and "Yzur," and Jaime Torres Bodet's novel Proserpina rescatada. It examines how each author grapples with the dislocation of the human voice from the body made possible through new recording technology. This selection of texts displays a range of engagements with this new technology, from a critique of rising positivism and machines in the early twentieth century, to experiments with aural metaphors in the wake of sounded film, and finally to the 1930s, when sound recording becomes an arm of government surveillance against its citizens. In each instance, the circulation of sound technology causes a shift in modes of representation that require new definitions of what it means to be human in an increasingly mechanized world.