Reading Sounds: Closed-captioned Media And Popular Culture

Paperback | December 23, 2015

bySean Zdenek

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Imagine a common movie scene: a hero confronts a villain. Captioning such a moment would at first glance seem as basic as transcribing the dialogue. But consider the choices involved: How do you convey the sarcasm in a comeback? Do you include a henchman’s muttering in the background? Does the villain emit a scream, a grunt, or a howl as he goes down? And how do you note a gunshot without spoiling the scene?

These are the choices closed captioners face every day. Captioners must decide whether and how to describe background noises, accents, laughter, musical cues, and even silences. When captioners describe a sound—or choose to ignore it—they are applying their own subjective interpretations to otherwise objective noises, creating meaning that does not necessarily exist in the soundtrack or the script.

Reading Sounds looks at closed-captioning as a potent source of meaning in rhetorical analysis. Through nine engrossing chapters, Sean Zdenek demonstrates how the choices captioners make affect the way deaf and hard of hearing viewers experience media. He draws on hundreds of real-life examples, as well as interviews with both professional captioners and regular viewers of closed captioning. Zdenek’s analysis is an engrossing look at how we make the audible visible, one that proves that better standards for closed captioning create a better entertainment experience for all viewers.

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Imagine a common movie scene: a hero confronts a villain. Captioning such a moment would at first glance seem as basic as transcribing the dialogue. But consider the choices involved: How do you convey the sarcasm in a comeback? Do you include a henchman’s muttering in the background? Does the villain emit a scream, a grunt, or a howl ...

Sean Zdenek is associate professor of technical communication and rhetoric at Texas Tech University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:December 23, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022631278X

ISBN - 13:9780226312781

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Table of Contents

Preface

1 A Rhetorical View of Captioning
2 Reading and Writing Captions
3 Context and Subjectivity in Sound Effects Captioning
4 Logocentrism
5 Captioned Irony
6 Captioned Silences and Ambient Sounds
7 Cultural Literacy, Sonic Allusions, and Series Awareness
8 In a Manner of Speaking
9 The Future of Closed Captioning

Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

"In Reading Sounds, Zdenek carves out entirely new rhetorical terrain focused on close examination of video captioning. After reading this book—even if you don’t regularly make use of closed captions--you’ll never experience captions the same way again. Zdenek ranges broadly, addressing the complex decisions made by captioners, the depth of cultural experience and resources necessary to produce quality captions, and the ways that readers read and respond to captions. Bridging rhetoric studies, sound studies, and multimedia studies, Zdenek’s lively, accessible book creates a new vocabulary for thinking about the effects that captions have on the way we experience multimedia."