Despite the ubiquity of digital media in contemporary society, analog media continue to hold sway in many audio cultures and subcultures, from DJs spinning vinyl to religious cassette sermons, from resurgent mixtape practices to performers of vintage synthesizers. This session will examine the ways media–especially analog media, with their irreducible materiality–shape listening cultures. Building on earlier work on Yemeni cassette poetry, Flagg Miller’s current project explores the cassette collection of Osama bin Laden and the way sounds are deployed and reproduced in religious discourse. Coming from a background in science and technology studies more broadly, Trevor Pinch looks at the history of electronic music synthesizers and the ways in which these analog instruments became such an integral part of mainstream music culture.
With response by Joseph Auner.