Comparative Literature and Spanish & Portuguese professor Tom McEnaney is on the “short list” for the First Book Prize by the Modernist Studies Association for his book Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas (University of Illinois Press, 2017).
More about the book: The role of radio’s “narrative acoustics” in in reshaping social relations across the Americas is the subject of this superb study, which combines rigorously revisionist media history with visionary conceptual power to tell the fascinating story of radio’s narrative revolutions. Radio’s forms of mediation gave its narratives and those it inspired new perspectives, new temporalities, and new maps for public connections. The results, discovered there through extensive work with diverse archival materials, changed everything from ways of listening to ideas of property ownership. New techniques of mediation prompted John Dos Passos to shape his fiction as a response to New Deal acoustics. Radio helped Raymond Chandler and Carson McCullers developed new media forms for property-rights advocacy. Radio’s popular acoustics gave Richard Wright new ways to conceive of black voice and shared speech. Its effects upon listening and imitation prompted Manuel Puig to transform the very idea of authorship, and its radionovelas became a forum for promoting the Good Neighbor Policy in Cuba. These and other ingenious ways of reading radio’s narrative techniques make Acoustic Properties a dazzling contribution to media theory, hemispheric studies, and the theory of narrative, among the many other fields for which its profound transmedial insight will be transformative.