Partial Answers - Homepage Journal of Literature and The History of Ideas The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 Volume 16/1: includes forum "Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

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 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

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 January 2013

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 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

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 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

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 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

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 January 2005

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 June 2004

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 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Sounding Postmodernity
 Jarmila Mildorf

 Narrativity and Sound in German Radio Play Adaptations of Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy
 Till Kinzel

 Non-Sovereign Voices in Friederike Mayröcker’s Aural Texts
 Inge Arteel

 Singing Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
 Anahita Rouyan

 Being Silent, Doing Nothing
 Agatha Frischmuth

 Musical Macrostructures in The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo by Richard Powers; or, Toward a Media-Conscious Audionarratology
 A. Elisabeth Reichel

 New Modes of Listening
 Emily Petermann

 Narrating Sounds
 Jarmila Mildorf and Till Kinzel

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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 15, issue 1 (January 2017) : 69-79
New Modes of Listening
The Mediality of Musical Novels
Emily Petermann
Rubric A: Audionarratology
Rubric B: Twentieth-Century Novel



A recent development in literature’s engagement with music involves the role played by emerging technologies and the way they not only transmit musical content to the listener, but very strongly condition the form the music takes and the way we listen. While music is still often considered ephemeral and transcendent, there is a new recognition of it as an object and a commodity, whether an LP record or a file to be downloaded from itunes. Technologies coexist; records are now collected and venerated in a nostalgic mode while music moves into the digital sphere of downloads and participatory cultures of online sharing. Contemporary literature can tell us not only about the idealization of music as a non-referential and thus “higher” art, but about the way music is mediated by technologies. The present paper focuses on two recent musical novels that foreground the mass media of musical expression, Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (1995) and Arthur Phillips’s The Song Is You (2009). Both celebrate songs — incorporated as records in the former and digital files on an ipod in the latter — as symbols of taste, carriers of memory, means of establishing interpersonal connections, and media that condition our thinking. Songs also exist in relation to others, demonstrated by the protagonist’s fixation on lists modeled on radio’s top-forty rankings in High Fidelity and on juxtaposition of songs on the ipod’s shuffle mode in The Song Is You. The comparison of these novels in terms of their focus on different musical technologies leads to an exploration of modes of listening as characters experience their lives through the lens of popular music.

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