Mara Mills, 19 November 2015

Title of the Talk: Speed Listening by Blind Readers and the History of Audio Time-Stretching

When? Thursday 19 November 2015 (17:00-18:30)

Where? The Barn at St John’s College (Kendrew Quad)

Speaker: Mara Mills (Assistant Professor, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University)

Abstract: Talking Books for blind readers spurred the commercialization of mainstream audiobooks after World War II, but the two formats soon diverged in terms of reading strategies. This talk will discuss the cultural imperative for aural speed reading that drove early time-stretching innovations in the magnetic tape era, allowing playback rate to be changed without affecting pitch.

Speaker Biography: Mara Mills works at the intersection of disability studies and media studies. Her research and teaching interests include communication history (especially related to telephones and reading practices), science and technology studies, disability theory, and mobile media studies. She is completing a book (On the Phone: Deafness and Communication Engineering), under contract with Duke University Press, on the significance of phonetics and deaf education to the emergence of “communication engineering” in early twentieth-century telephony; this concept and set of practices later gave rise to information theory, digital coding, and cybernetics. Her second book project, Print Disability and New Reading Formats, examines the reformatting of print over the course of the past century by blind and other print disabled readers, with a focus on Talking Books and electronic reading machines.

Convenor: Jason Stanyek (Associate Professor; Fellow and Tutor, St. John’s College)

Free admission – Open to the public. A drinks reception will follow the talk.

 

Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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