Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality

AHP readers may be interested in a new book, Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality, edited by Viktoria Tkaczyk, Mara Mills, and Alexandra Hui. The volume is described as,

Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality argues that the modern cultural practices of hearing and testing have emerged from a long interrelationship. Since the early nineteenth century, auditory test tools (whether organ pipes or electronic tone generators) and the results of hearing tests have fed back into instrument calibration, human training, architecture, and the creation of new musical sounds. Hearing tests received a further boost around 1900 as a result of injury compensation laws and state and professional demands for aptitude testing in schools, conservatories, the military, and other fields. Applied at large scale, tests of seemingly small measure-of auditory acuity, of hearing range-helped redefine the modern concept of hearing as such. During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the epistemic function of hearing expanded. Hearing took on the dual role of test object and test instrument; in the latter case, human hearing became a gauge by which to evaluate or regulate materials, nonhuman organisms, equipment, and technological systems. This book considers both the testing of hearing and testing with hearing to explore the co-creation of modern epistemic and auditory cultures. The book’s twelve contributors trace the design of ever more specific tests for the arts, education and communication, colonial and military applications, sociopolitical and industrial endeavors. Together, they demonstrate that testing as such became an enduring and wide-ranging cultural technique in the modern period, one that is situated between histories of scientific experimentation and many fields of application.

Table of Contents

Testing Hearing: An Introduction
Alexandra Hui, Mara Mills, and Viktoria Tkaczyk

Sorting and Screening Human Hearers:
Testing the Culturally Molded Ear

Testing Hearing with Speech
Mara Mills

The Testing of a Hundred Listeners: Otto Abraham’s Studies on “Absolute Tone Consciousness”
Viktoria Tkaczyk

Murray Island versus Aberdeenshire: Contextualizing the Cross-Cultural Hearing Tests of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, 1898-1899
Sebastian Klotz

Designing Instruments, Calibrating machines

Hearing Perfection
Emily I. Dolan

Opelt’s Siren and the Technologies of Musical Hearing
Alexander Rehding

The Software Passes the Test When the User Fails It:Constructing Digital Models of Analog Signal Processors
Jonathan Sterne

Managing Sound, Assessing Space

To Hear As I Do: The Concessions of Hearing in Taiwan’s Noise Management System
Jennifer Hsieh

Testing Spatial Hearing and the Development of Kunstkopf Technology, 1957-1981
Stefan Krebs

Absorption, Transmission, Reflection: Testing Materials in the Laboratory
Roland Wittje

World as Testbed:
Testing beyond Human Auditory Perception

Of Silent Sirens and Pied Pipers: Auditory Thresholds and High-Frequency Technologies of Animal Control
Joeri Bruyninckx

Testing the Underwater Ear: Hearing, Standardizing, and Classifying Marine Sounds from World War I to the Cold War
Lino Camprubí and Alexandra Hui

This Is Not a Test: Listening with Günther Anders in the Nuclear Age
Benjamin Steege

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Trevor Pinch

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.