New Books Network

Electrified Voices: How the Telephone, Phonograph, and Radio Shaped Modern Japan, 1868-1945 (Columbia UP, 2018) explores the soundscapes of modernity in Japan. In this...

Electrified Voices: How the Telephone, Phonograph, and Radio Shaped Modern Japan, 1868-1945 (Columbia UP, 2018) explores the soundscapes of modernity in Japan. In this book, Kerim Yasar argues that modern technologies of sound reproduction and transmission have had profound—and often underappreciated—social, economic, and political effects. Observing that the “materialities of media transform people, institutions, and societies,” Yasar traces the early histories of sound reproduction in modern Japan and their consequences. Electrified Voices examines the development of media technologies—including the telegraph and telephone, phonograph, broadcast radio, and film—and their attendant oralities, auralities, and effects on language, nation, the performing arts, and even intellectual property law. As Yasar shows, sound reproduction changed language and attitudes about language, collapsed time and space, and shaped both individual and collective identities and practices. The impact of these technologies is indispensable to a clear understanding of modernity, and Yasar’s book is a welcome contribution to the scholarly literature on not just Japan, but histories of media and modernity as well.