Abstract

Scholars often think of sound, even recorded sound, as having a special relationship to the real that other historical artifacts do not. But if sound is a material thing, and things can be, from a new materialist perspective, “quasi-agents,” is it possible that sound is an agent that poses or acts? Three “scenes of history” utilizing recorded sound—Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, archival recordings of FDR, and a sound installation by Edward and Nancy Kienholz—provide diverse contexts through which to investigate the nature of sound’ s material agency.

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