Cultural Histories of Noise, Sound and Listening in Europe, 1300-1918  book cover
1st Edition

Cultural Histories of Noise, Sound and Listening in Europe, 1300-1918

ISBN 9781409444398
Published November 23, 2016 by Routledge
294 Pages

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Book Description

Cultural Histories of Noise, Sound and Listening in Europe, 1300-1918 presents a range of historical case studies on the sounding worlds of the European past. The chapters in this volume explore ways of thinking about sound historically, and seek to understand how people have understood and negotiated their relationships with the sounding world in Europe from the Middle Ages through to the early twentieth century. They consider, in particular: sound and music in the later Middle Ages; the politics of sound in the early modern period; the history of the body and perception during the Ancien Régime; and the sounds of the city in the nineteenth century and sound and colonial rule at the fin de siècle.

The case studies also range in geographical orientation to include considerations not only of Britain and France, the countries most considered in European historical sound studies in English-language scholarship to date, but also Bosnia-Herzegovina, British Colonial India, Germany, Italy and Portugal. Out of this diverse group of case studies emerge significant themes that recur time and again, varying according to time and place: sound, power and identity; sound as a marker of power or violence; and sound, physiology and sensory perception and technologies of sound, consumption and meaning.

Table of Contents

General Introduction Ian Biddle and Kirsten Gibson

Part 1: Historicizing Aurality

Introduction Ian Biddle and Kirsten Gibson

1.‘Sowndys and melodiis’: Perceptions of Sound and Music in Late Medieval England Lisa Colton

2. The Physiologist at the Opera – Claude Perrault’s Du bruit (1680) and the Politics of Pleasure in the Ancien Régime  Veit Erlmann

3. Georges Kastner’s Les Voix de Paris (1857): A Study in Musical Flânerie Emily Laurance

4. Refashioning Rhythm: Hearing, Acting and Reacting to Metronomic Sound in Experimental Psychology and Beyond, c.1875–1920 Alexander Bonus

Part 2: Sound Politics

Introduction Ian Biddle and Kirsten Gibson

5. Orphée at the Forains: Silencing and Silences in Old Regime France Hedy Law

6. Sound as Promise and Threat: Drumming, Collective Violence and Colonial Law in British Ceylon Jim Sykes

7. Cannons, Church Bells and Colonial Policies: The Soundscape in Habsburg Bosnia-Herzegovina Risto Pekka Pennanen

Part 3: Urban Soundscapes of Europe

Introduction Ian Biddle and Kirsten Gibson

8. City Life and Music for Secular Entertainment in the Empire of Maximilian I Helen Coffey

9. Sonic Afterworld: Mapping the Soundscape of Heaven and Hell in Early Modern Cities  Daniele V. Filippi

10. The Sounds of the City, 1598: Everard Guilpin’s London in Skialetheia Adam Hansen

11. The Soundscape of the City in the Nineteenth Century  Olivier Balaÿ

12. Porosity and Modernity: Lisbon’s Soundscape from 1864–1908  Joao Silva.



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Ian Biddle is a cultural theorist and musicologist, working on a range of topics in music- and sound-related areas. He is co-founder and co-ordinating editor of the journal Radical Musicology and is co-convenor, with Beate Müller, of the Newcastle University Genocide Research Group. His work deals with: the cultural history of music and masculinity; music’s intervention in communities and subjectivities; sound, soundscapes and urban experience; and the politics of noise. He has interests in Holocaust studies, memory studies, sound studies, Italian workerist and autonomist theory and psychoanalysis. He is author of Music, Masculinity and the Claims of History: The Austro-German Tradition from Hegel to Freud (Ashgate, 2011), editor of Music and Identity Politics (Ashgate, 2012), co-editor, with Kirsten Gibson, of Masculinity and Western Musical Practice (Ashgate, 2009) and co-editor of Sound, Music Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience (2013).

Kirsten Gibson’s research has focused on John Dowland’s printed songbooks, Elizabethan court politics, early modern musical print culture and discourses of music and masculinity in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Her work appears in Early Music History, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Renaissance Studies and Early Music as well as in various essay collections. She is co-editor, with Ian Biddle, of Masculinity and Western Musical Practice (Ashgate, 2009).


"The volume as a whole shows the significance of sonic experience in the history of
embodied perception and of religious identity."
 -- Aimée Boutin, Florida State University, H-France Review

"The editors enable generous and individualized tours through the volume, mapping an open blueprint for sound studies and cultural history in the process." -- Andrea F. Bohlman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, EuropeNow