Dumbstruck - A Cultural History of Ventriloquism: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism

Hardcover | October 1, 2000

bySteven Connor

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Why can none of us hear our own recorded voice without wincing? Why is the telephone still full of such spookiness and erotic possibility? Why does the metaphor of ventriloquism, the art of 'seeming to speak where one is not', speak so resonantly to our contemporary technological condition?These are the kind of questions which impel Steven Connor's wide-ranging, restlessly inquisitive history of ventriloquism and the disembodied voice. He tracks his subject from its first recorded beginnings in ancient Israel and Greece, through the fulminations of early Christian writers against theunholy (and, they believed, obscenely produced) practices of pagan divination, the aberrations of the voice in mysticism, witchcraft and possession, and the strange obsession with the vagrant figure of the ventriloquist, newly conceived as male rather than female, during the Enlightenment. Heretrieves the stories of some of the most popular and versatile ventriloquists and polyphonists of the nineteenth century, and investigates the survival of ventriloquial delusions and desires in spiritualism and the 'vocalic uncanny' of technologies like telephone, radio, film, and internet. Learnedbut lucid, brimming with anecdote and insight, this is much more than an archaeology of one of the most regularly derided but tenaciously enduring of popular arts. It is also a series of virtuoso philosophical and psychological reflections on the problems and astonishments, the raptures andabsurdities of the unhoused voice.

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Why can none of us hear our own recorded voice without wincing? Why is the telephone still full of such spookiness and erotic possibility? Why does the metaphor of ventriloquism, the art of 'seeming to speak where one is not', speak so resonantly to our contemporary technological condition?These are the kind of questions which impel St...

Steven Connor was educated at Christ's Hospital, Horsham and Wadham College, Oxford, and has taught at Birkbeck College, University of London since 1979, where he is currently Professor of Modern Literature and Theory.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:458 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.18 inPublished:October 1, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198184336

ISBN - 13:9780198184331

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Table of Contents

Part I: Powers1. What I Say GoesPart II: Prophecies2. Earth, Breath, Frenzy: The Delphic Oracle3. Origen, Eustathius, and The Witch of EndorPart III: Possessions4. Hoc Est Corpus5. The Exorcism of John Darrell6. O, that Oh is the Devill: Glover and HarsnettPart IV: Prodigies7. Miracles and the Encyclopedie8. Speaking Parts: Diderot and Les Bijoux indiscrets9. The Abbe and the Ventriloque10. The Dictate of Phrenzy: Charles Brockden Brown's WielandPart V: Polyphonics11. Ubiquitarical12. At Home and Abroad: Monsieur Alexandre and Mr Matthews13. Phenomena in the Philosophy of Sound: Mr Love14. Writing the VoicePart VI: Prosthetics15. Vocal Reinforcement16. Talking Heads, Automaton Ears17. A Gramophone in Every GravePart VII: No Time Like the Present18. No Time Like the PresentWorks CitedIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Dumbstruck triumphantly reclaims ventriloquism from the condescension of posterity'TLS