Foundations for the study of American rhapsody

Stanley D Harrison, University of Rhode Island


Because English faculty are the ones most commonly trusted with the historic, aesthetic, and ideological study of verbally based art forms, they are the ones who will ultimately decide the fate of studies in American phonographic rhapsody (read: U.S. recorded poetic sound art). Thus, it is a significant problem that English faculty neither study American rhapsody nor receive training in the art and science of analytic listening, a prerequisite to the successful study of U.S. recorded poetic sound art. More importantly, they have failed to develop field related information and understanding necessary to the development of criticisms of American phonographic rhapsody. This dissertation seeks to redress the present circumstance by providing English faculty with the kinds of rudimentary, foundational knowledges they would need if they were to open the history of U.S. recorded sound poetries to academic inquiry. Chapter One establishes that English faculty turned their back on sound art studies for reasons having nothing to do with the historic importance, artistic merit, and ideological content of poetic sound art. Rather, departments of English, under the direction of an extra-literary historical process, encountered and passed over the historic study of American recorded sound art without ever knowing why they did it. Chapter Two proceeds from the newly established position that English faculty are unjustified in their continued neglect of American phonographic rhapsody. Having noted that English faculty achieve their rank without learning how to think about recorded sound as an object of investigation, the chapter offers a short treatise on the fundamental principles of sound art research which include (1) radio and phonography are divergent modeling systems; (2) the phonographic medium is a first content of any recording; (3) sound art recorded prior to broadcast is recorded sound art; (4) phonographic intention accounts for the “live radio” recording; (5) recorded poetic sound art is “Rhapsody.” In the end, this dissertation refrains from attempting to stimulate interest in poetic sound art, opting instead to lay solid historic and theoretic foundations upon which scholars may base and steady their future studies of American rhapsody. ^

Subject Area

American Studies|Philosophy|Education, History of|Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Stanley D Harrison, "Foundations for the study of American rhapsody" (1999). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9955096.