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Book and Free Download: The Sonic Imperative: Sound in the Age of Screens

This project is an accessible exploration of the central role of auditory experience in American life, building from two core themes: that sound is the newest of our senses, having been reborn in twentieth century audio technologies; and that we vastly underrate spoken language and music as vital portals to the culture. This descriptive study offers a compelling counter-narrative to the bias for the visual fed by Canadian and contemporary American studies of media and communication.

Available as pdf here
Also Available in Paper at

Paper 16.50, 335 pages


Chapter List 

  1. Introduction 

Part I: Human Equipment

  1. Hearing and the Motivation to Listen 
  2. Orality: Breaking the Codes of Culture 

Part II: Natural, Organized and Disorganized Sound

  1. Functional Ambiance and the Clutter of Noise 
  2. Capturing and Storing Sound 
  3. The Refuge of Music 
  4. The Wildcard of Acoustic Space.
  5. Hollywood and the Art of Sound Design

Part III: The Assault on Hearing

  1. Weaponizing Noise 
  2. Creating Aural Islands 
  3. Conclusion: Preserving the Most Consequential Sense