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Sound Matters: Essays on the Acoustics of German Culture

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Sound Matters

Essays on the Acoustics of German Culture

Edited by Nora M. Alter and Lutz Koepnick

266 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-436-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (November 2004)

ISBN  978-1-57181-437-1 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (December 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78238-172-3 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This volume is a most welcome contribution to an area of inquiry the editors concede as been slow to flourish in German Cultures Studies…the polished and thought-provoking essays in this anthology will lead readers to begin hearing things differently in their own research and teaching.”  ·  German Studies Review


The sounds of music and the German language have played a significant role in the developing symbolism of the German nation. In light of the historical division of Germany into many disparate political entities and regional groups, German artists and intellectuals of the 19th and early 20th centuries conceived of musical and linguistic dispositions as the nation's most palpable common ground. According to this view, the peculiar sounds of German music and of the German language provided a direct conduit to national identity, to the deepest recesses of the German soul. So strong is this legacy of sound is still prevalent in modern German culture that philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, in a recent essay, did not even hesitate to describe post-wall Germany as an "acoustical body."

This volume gathers the work of scholars from the US, Germany, and the United Kingdom to explore the role of sound in modern and postmodern German cultural production. Working across established disciplines and methodological divides, the essays of Sound Matters investigate the ways in which texts, artists, and performers in all kinds of media have utilized sonic materials in order to enforce or complicate dominant notions of German cultural and national identity.

Nora M. Alter is Professor of German, Film and Media Studies at the University of Florida. She is author of Vietnam Protest Theatre: The Television War on Stage (Indiana UP, 1996) and Projecting History: German Non-Fiction Film 1967-2000, (University of Michigan Press, 2002). She has published articles in New German Critique, The Germanic Review, Cultural Critique, Studies in Twentieth Century Literature, and contributed essays to Beyond 1989, Imperialism and Theatre and Triangulated Visions. She is currently working on a project on the "The Essay Film."

Lutz Koepnick is Associate Professor of German, Film and Media Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Power (The University of Nebraska Press, 1999), for which he received the MLA's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures in 2000; and of Nothungs Modernität: Wagners Ring und die Poesie der Politik im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1994). His next book, The Dark Mirror: German Cinema Between Hitler and Hollywood, will be published this fall by the University of California Press. He is currently working on a project, "Framing Attention: Windows on Modern German Culture."

Subject: Cultural Studies (General) Media Studies
Area: Germany



Introduction: Sound Matters
Nora M. Alter and Lutz Koepnick


Chapter 1. Hegemony through Harmony: German Identity, Music, and Enlightenment around 1800
Nicholas Vazsonyi

Chapter 2. Mahler contra Wagner: The Third Symphony and the Political Legacy of Romanticism
Carl Niekerk

Chapter 3. Conducting Music, Conducting War: Nazi Germany as an Acoustic Experience
Frank Trommler


Chapter 4. The Politics and Sounds of Everyday Life in Kuhle Wampe
Nora M. Alter

Chapter 5. Sound Money: Aural Strategies in Rolf Thiele’s The Girl Rosemarie
Hester Baer

Chapter 6. The Castrato’s Voices: Word and Flesh in Fassbinder’s In a Year of Thirteen Moons
Brigitte Peucker


Chapter 7. Benjamin’s Silence
Lutz Koepnick

Chapter 8. Deafening Sound and Troubling Silence in Volker Schlöndorff’s Die Blechtrommel
Elizabeth C. Hamilton

Chapter 9. Silence Is Golden? The Short Fiction of Pieke Biermann
Christopher Jones


Chapter 10. Broadcasting Wagner: Transmission, Dissemination, Translation
Thomas F. Cohen

Chapter 11. Sounds Familiar? Nina Simone’s Performances of Brecht/Weill Songs
Russell A. Berman

Chapter 12. Roll Over Beethoven! Chuck Berry! Mick Jagger! 1960s Rock, the Myth of Progress, and the Burden of National Identity in West Germany
Richard Langston

Chapter 13. The Music That Lola Ran To
Caryl Flinn


Chapter 14. “Heiner Müller vertonen”: Heiner Goebbels and the Music of Postmodern Memory
David Barnett

Chapter 15. The Technological Subject: Music, Media, and Memory in Stockhausen’s Hymnen
Larson Powell

Notes on Contributors

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