• Radio Studies and Twentieth Century Literature: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Remediation

    Ian Whittington (see profile)
    Mass media--Study and teaching, Literature, Modern
    Item Type:
    intermediality, media history, radio studies, Media studies, Modernism, Modern literature, Radio
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    This article provides an overview of the history of radio studies as it intersects with twentieth-century literary studies, and outlines recent research trends in the field. Beginning with the earliest theorists and practitioners of radio (including Hilda Matheson, Rudolf Arnheim, and Lance Sieveking), the article considers how mid-twentieth century attitudes to radio as a medium of cultural expression varied among Marxist thinkers (Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, and Bertolt Brecht), sociologists (Paul Lazarsfeld and Hadley Cantril), and media theorists (Marshall McLuhan and Walter Ong). The article then examines how two recent scholarly developments—the expanded conception of modernist culture under the name of the “new modernist studies,” and the growth of sound studies as an interdisciplinary field with both aesthetic and historical implications—have, since the mid-1990s, inaugurated a new wave of literary radio scholarship. These distinct but related developments have fostered newly integrated approaches to the study of radio as a medium that intersects not only with literature, but with other media; the article therefore provides a summary of recent works that approach radio through a lens of remediation (the mutual influence and interpenetration of various media), as well as works that consider the aesthetic and ethical potential of the medium. The article closes by noting important avenues still to be explored, including questions of cultural hierarchy and “the middlebrow,” transnational broadcasting, and the cultural life of radio in the age of television and beyond.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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