Sound Recording Technology and American Literature
(Cambridge University Press, 2021)
Shortlisted for the MSA First Book Prize!
Phonographs, tapes, stereo LPs, digital remix - how did these remarkable technologies impact American writing? This book explores how twentieth-century writers shaped the ways we listen in our multimedia present. Uncovering a rich new archive of materials, this book offers a resonant reading of how writers across several genres, such as John Dos Passos, Langston Hughes, William S. Burroughs, and others, navigated the intermedial spaces between texts and recordings. Numerous scholars have taken up remix - a term co-opted from DJs and sound engineers - as the defining aesthetic of twenty-first century art and literature. Others have examined modernism's debt to the phonograph. But in the gap between these moments, one finds that the reciprocal relationship between the literary arts and sonic technologies continued to evolve over the twentieth century. A mix of American literary history, sound studies, and media archaeology, this interdisciplinary study will appeal to scholars, students, and audiophiles.
"All in all, Teague’s work itself is pioneering, charting a territory very few have begun to enter. It is an area that Teague explores with wit, curiosity, tenacity, and a thoroughness all too rare in the field."
—Justin Desmangles, Before Columbus Foundation (American Book Awards)
" ...if the ear was essential to the making of American literature, Teague brilliantly elaborates a method for listening critically to this work, offering a theory of “resonant reading” that scholars in various fields are sure to find a valuable interpretive framework. Persuasively written and a pleasure to read, this study equips us to grapple with the soundscapes and vibrations of American literature." — MSA First Book Prize, Shortlist
"Teague’s account of resonance is rich, honing in on its vibratory sense... It's certainly a tool which dances in Teague's hands. Each chapter makes a sparkling case for the mutual interference between technology and text. "
— Jamie Fenton, review in Transatlantica
Table of Contents
Introduction — Resonant Reading: Listening to American Literature After the Phonograph
1. Ears Taut to Hear: John Dos Passos Records America
2. Ethnographic Transcription and the Jazz Auto/Biography: Alan Lomax, Jelly Roll Morton, Zora Neale Hurston, and Sidney Bechet
3. Press Play: Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and the Tape Recorder
4. The Stereophonic Poetics of Langston Hughes and Amiri Baraka
5. From Cut-Up to Mashup: Literary Remix in the Digital Age, feat. Kevin Young, and Chuck Palahniuk
A Post-Electric Postscript: Recording and Remix Onstage.
I've created a playlist on Spotify so that you can enjoy many of the recordings referenced in my book.
Articles & Essays
"A Story in Sound: The Unpublished Writings of Sidney Bechet," MELUS, April 10, 2023, https://doi.org/10.1093/melus/mlad005
“Black Sonic Space and the Stereophonic Poetics of Amiri Baraka’s It’s Nation Time.” Sound Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2016, pp. 22-39. https://doi.org/10.1080/20551940.2015.1079067
“The Recording Studio on Stage: Liveness in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies, special issue of American Quarterly, edited by Kara Keeling and Josh Kun, vol. 63, no. 3, 2011, pp. 555-571. doi:10.1353/aq.2011.0032.
“The Jazz Age.” The Cambridge History of American Modernism, edited by Mark Whalan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2023, pp. 222–236. The Cambridge History of American Literature. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108774437.
“John Dos Passos and the Russian Theatre, 1928,” John Dos Passos’s Transatlantic Chronicling: Critical Essays on the Interwar Years, edited by Aaron Shaheen and Rosa Bautista-Cordero, University of Tennessee Press, 2022. https://utpress.org/title/john-dos-passos/
Book Reviews and Web Publications
“Black Sounds and Phonographic Poetry.” [a review of Anthony Reed’s Sound Works: Race, Sound, and Poetry in Production (Duke UP, 2021)] Contemporary Literature, vol. 62 no. 4, 2021, p. 590–596. muse.jhu.edu/article/871288.
“When Fiction Rocks!” [a review of Florence Dore’s Novel Sounds (Columbia UP, 2018)] Contemporary Literature, vol. 60 no. 2, 2019, pp. 282-288. muse.jhu.edu/article/757963.
“‘KASPLASH! SLURPLOP… KPLUNK!’ Charles Mingus’s Sound Effects and the Politics of Humor.” SoundingOut! 30 September 2019. Soundstudiesblog.com