An Auscultative Age

In class yesterday, we discussed Rudyard Kipling’s short story “Wireless” within the context of John M. Picker’s claim that the Victorian period was an “auscultative age.” In the intro to Victorian Soundscapes, Picker discusses the transitions from a primarily romantic concept of the sublime sounds of nature (the Aeolian harp) to the sounds and rhythms of the industrial age. For context, I thought it would be worthwhile to post two video clips that demonstrate the contrast. Check out this first clip of an Aeolian harp in Ireland. Then check out this Steampunk re-enactment of a typical Victorian-era urban soundscape.  Both are effective examples for understanding aural transitions in the nineteenth century. Coincidentally, they are both extraordinarily effective for understanding postmodern fascinations with ambient sounds, as well.

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