Eco-sonic media

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The negative environmental effects of media culture are not often acknowledged: thefuel required to keep huge server farms in operation, landfills full of high tech junk, andthe extraction of rare minerals for devices reliant on them are just some of the hidden costsof the contemporary mediascape. Eco-Sonic Media brings an ecological critique to the history of sound media technologies in order to amplify the environmental undertones in sound studies and turn up the audio in discussions of greening the media. By looking at early and neglected forms of sound technology, Jacob Smith seeks to create a revisionist, ecologically aware history of sound media. Delving into the history of pre-electronic media like hand-cranked gramophones, comparatively eco-friendly media artifacts such as the shellac discs that preceded the use of petroleum-based vinyl, early forms of portable technology like divining rods, and even the use of songbirds as domestic music machines, Smith builds a scaffolding ofhistorical case studies to demonstrate how “green media archaeology” can make sound studiesvibrate at an ecological frequency while opening the ears of eco-criticism. Throughout thiseye-opening and timely book he makes readers more aware of the costs and consequences of their personal media consumption by prompting comparisons with non-digital, non-electronic technologies and by offering different ways in which sound media can become eco-sonic media. Inthe process, he forges interdisciplinary connections, opens new avenues of research, and poses fresh theoretical questions for scholars and students of media, sound studies, and contemporary environmental history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of California Press
Number of pages254
ISBN (Electronic)9780520961494
ISBN (Print)9780520286139
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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