Electrified Voices

How the Telephone, Phonograph, and Radio Shaped Modern Japan, 1868–1945

Kerim Yasar

Columbia University Press

Electrified Voices

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Pub Date: October 2018

ISBN: 9780231187138

304 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: October 2018

ISBN: 9780231187121

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: October 2018

ISBN: 9780231547024

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

Electrified Voices

How the Telephone, Phonograph, and Radio Shaped Modern Japan, 1868–1945

Kerim Yasar

Columbia University Press

Long before karaoke’s ubiquity and the rise of global brands such as Sony, Japan was a place where new audio technologies found eager users and contributed to new cultural forms. In Electrified Voices, Kerim Yasar traces the origins of the modern soundscape, showing how the revolutionary nature of sound technology and the rise of a new auditory culture played an essential role in the formation of Japanese modernity.

A far-reaching cultural history of the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, radio, and early sound film in Japan, Electrified Voices shows how these technologies reshaped the production of culture. Audio technologies upended the status of the written word as the only source of prestige while revivifying traditional forms of orality. The ability to reproduce and transmit sound, freeing it from the constraints of time and space, had profound consequences on late nineteenth-century language reform; twentieth-century literary, musical, and cinematic practices; the rise of militarism and nationalism in the 1920s and 30s; and the transition to the postwar period inaugurated by Emperor Hirohito’s declaration of unconditional surrender to Allied forces—a declaration that was recorded on a gramophone record and broadcast throughout the defeated Japanese empire. The first cultural history in English of auditory technologies in modern Japan, Electrified Voices enriches our understanding of Japanese modernity and offers a major contribution to sound studies and global media history.
Electrified Voices is an innovative, pathbreaking study of sound culture, media, and technology in modern Japan. Seiji Lippit, University of California, Los Angeles
The sounds coming from Japan in this book are both strange and familiar to ears used to reading about acoustic modernity in the North Atlantic world. Kerim Yasar has found new stories and characters for asking classic questions in media history and I, for one, am delighted to be enriched by a media-historical book on Japan that is so innovative in its historical approach and its choice of media. This book sings the body electric in Japan. John Durham Peters, Yale University
Kerim Yasar recounts the fascinating story of how modernity in Japan sounded. Eminently readable, his book traces how Japan’s existing soundscape found itself translated and transformed by such modern audio technologies as the telephone, gramophone, radio, and talkie cinema, and how the process launched new debates about what it means to represent the real. Michael K. Bourdaghs, author of Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on Names
Introduction: All That Is Solid Melts Into Sound
1. Vocal Cords and Telephone Wires: Orality in Japan, Old and New
2. Sound and Sentiment
3. The Grain in the Groove: Inscribed Voices, Echoed Temporalities
4. Imagining the Wireless Community
5. Ghostlier Demarcations, Keener Sounds: Early Japanese Radio Drama
6. Sound and Motion
Coda-oke
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Kerim Yasar is assistant professor of East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Southern California.