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Victorian Soundscape, etc.

Ross’ reading on Victorian and the Progressive Era soundscape was interesting because it alluded to a general cultural site of conflict at the time, the formation/definition of masculine identity. The Histories of Sound text stated that aversion to sound was associated with Progressive reformers who suggested that excess noise was uncivilized; however, the aversion to noise was also seen as a feminine quality and Progressive reformers were often accused of being deficiently masculine in reference to the immigrant working class who were not averse to noise in public space, and created more of it through factory work and cultural practices. In this way the boundaries around the soundscape are analogous to the boundaries that defined masculinity. Silence and sound policed two different formations of masculine productivity that in industrialization was the locus of identity formations. I was particularly interested in this because of the analogies continued relevance today. Sound and silence are still binaries marked by class, the former associated with the working class and the latter with a middle class sense of civility. In this way, I found similarities in the arguments Ross’ text makes about sound binaries, with my use of the Roediger from last week on the formations of whiteness, in their similar treatments of identity formations within public space and constructions of Self and Otherness.

The Victorian Soundscapes reading illuminated similar issues, especially the tensions enabled by the first campaigns concerned with poor quality of life issues caused by overcrowding in cities.

I am interested to hear what direction Ross is taking his analysis. Ross, I know you are using contemporary films, are you making a comparison between representations around identity formation and noise in public space in 20th century media and its roots in Progressive reform type movements? Or does your analysis use the historical texts more as a background and go in another direction? I suppose I will find out in a few hours. Either way, there is a lot that can be said using these texts so I’ll be interested to discuss your argument.