Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama

Paperback | July 11, 2012

byNeil Verma

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For generations, fans and critics have characterized classic American radio drama as a “theater of the mind.” This book unpacks that characterization by recasting the radio play as an aesthetic object within its unique historical context. In Theater of the Mind, Neil Verma applies an array of critical methods to more than six thousand recordings to produce a vivid new account of radio drama from the Depression to the Cold War.

In this sweeping exploration of dramatic conventions, Verma investigates legendary dramas by the likes of Norman Corwin, Lucille Fletcher, and Wyllis Cooper on key programs ranging from The Columbia Workshop, The Mercury Theater on the Air, and Cavalcade of America to Lights Out!, Suspense, and Dragnet to reveal how these programs promoted and evolved a series of models of the imagination.

With close readings of individual sound effects and charts of broad trends among formats, Verma not only gives us a new account of the most flourishing form of genre fiction in the mid-twentieth century but also presents a powerful case for the central place of the aesthetics of sound in the history of modern experience.

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For generations, fans and critics have characterized classic American radio drama as a “theater of the mind.” This book unpacks that characterization by recasting the radio play as an aesthetic object within its unique historical context. In Theater of the Mind, Neil Verma applies an array of critical methods to more than six thou...

Neil Verma is a Harper Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and a Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

other books by Neil Verma

Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin and Media Authorship
Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin and Media Authorship

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.3 inPublished:July 11, 2012Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226853519

ISBN - 13:9780226853512

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: What Is the “Theater of the Mind”?
Part 1   Radio Aesthetics in the Late Depression, 1937–1945
1 Dramas of Space and Time
2 Producing Perspective in Radio
3 Intimate and Kaleidosonic Styles
4 Norman Corwin’s People’s Radio
Part 2   Communication and Interiority in 1940s Radio, 1941–1950
5 Honeymoon Shocker
6 Dramas of Susceptibility and Transmission
7 Eavesdropper, Ventriloquist, Signalman
Part 3   Radio and the Postwar Mood, 1945–1955
8 Later than You Think?
9 Just the Facts
10 In Trials
Coda: Instruction and Excavation
Guide to Radio Programs
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Verma deftly alternates between close readings of single moments in plays and large-scale interpretations across entire series to convincingly contend that radio drama was fundamentally imbricated in shaping (in addition to reflecting) the ways in which Americans apprehended space, time, self, and mind in relation to domestic and international politics, intimately and publicly, across three decades. . . . Theatre of the Mind will be of interest to performance, theatre, culture, and media scholars working in the first half of the twentieth century in the United States. Yet it will also be of interest to scholars and students working far beyond this geographical and temporal focus for its innovative methodology and elegant, consistent argumentation.”