This essay offers a story about changing meanings of listening. The techniques of listening that became widespread with the diffusion of the telephone, the phonograph, and the radio early in the twentieth century were themselves transposed and elaborated from techniques of listening developed elsewhere in middle-class culture over the course of the nineteenth century. In other words, they can be located in a genealogy of audile technique, or techniques of listening. By this emphasis on technique I mean to denote a concrete set of limited and related practices of listening and practical orientations toward listening. In The Audible Past, I follow  audile technique through three very different cultural contexts: modern medicine in Western Europe and the United States from the 1760s into the 1900s, American sound telegraphy from the 1840s into the 1900s, and sound-reproduction technologies in Europe and the United States between 1876 and 1930. After introducing the concept of audile technique, this essay picks up the story at the moment audile technique is articulated to the emergent technologies of sound reproduction: sound telegraphy, telephony, phonography, and radio.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Sterne, Jonathan. (2014). Headset Culture, Audile, Technique, and sound Space as Private Space. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 6(2), 57–82. doi:10.18146/tmg.232