Circuits of argentinidad: Tone, Texts, Technologies

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This dissertation argues that literary texts contributed to the construction of a simultaneously sonic and social tone—argentinidad, or Argentine-ness—throughout a period of pronounced immigration extending from the 1880s to the 1940s. Alongside sound reproduction technologies like the telephone, phonograph, and radio, literary works served as tone reproduction technologies that helped shape readers into listeners alert to the presence or absence of argentinidad. Textual attention to the acoustic thus informed everyday aurality by determining how difference was perceived and proscribed amid attempts to formulate this national tone. Following an introduction that situates the project within relevant scholarship, the first chapter considers a cluster of late-nineteenth-century novels invoking a “sonido argentino,” a multivalent coinage conveying a value tied to immigration and the foreign capital flowing through a frequently volatile stock market. As they propose xenophobic listening models identifying which sources of sound also signal wealth and nationality, works like Lucio Vicente López’s La gran aldea and Julián Martel’s La bolsa suggest immigrants would enrich neither Argentina nor its soundscape. The following chapter turns to early science fiction as Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg, Horacio Quiroga, and Leopoldo Lugones all mobilize transduction—a principle of sound reproduction describing transformations of energy—in order to question the effects of assimilation. The telephone and the phonograph, two key transductive technologies, then guide the third chapter’s approach to Roberto Arlt, Jorge Luis Borges, and the transmission of an imagined vocality. Whereas Arlt hears a switchboard that wires in immigrant voices, Borges instead senses a phonographic stylus that excludes them by only amplifying recognizably Argentine tones. The final chapter is framed by Russian-born declamadora Berta Singerman and native Spaniard Eduardo González Lanuza’s conceptions of how poetry reaches new publics through sound. The relationships they outline between voice and corpus—both as the body to which that voice belongs and as a collection of texts—reveal how sonic performances can contest consolidated notions of a national tone. The conclusion addresses unsuccessful attempts to analyze tonality through the frequently forgotten fotoliptófono, or photoliptophone, and insists that texts constitute a crucial component in the circuit that tunes ears to argentinidad.

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316 pages


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Argentina; Immigration; Literature; Media; Sound


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McDaniel, Shawn
McEnaney, Thomas

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Madrid-Gonzalez, Alejandro

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Romance Studies

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Ph. D., Romance Studies

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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