Cover/Title Page/Copyright/Dedication

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

I intended this book to be in part about gaps and silences—gaps in the picture we have created of participants in early ethnography, and the ironic silence surrounding the early use of the talking machine in that work. Through the Federal Cylinder Project, I took part in the later years of that story; ...

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Introduction: "Fugitive Sound Waves," Fugitive Voices

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pp. 1-10

The imagination of Thomas Alva Edison was fertile but not fanciful. He was a forward-looking pragmatist. No sooner had he developed a working model for a talking machine than he was listing for entranced reporters the "illimitable possibilities" and "numerous probabilities" ...

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1. The Talking Machine: A Marvelous Inevitability

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pp. 11-26

Surprise, astonishment, awe, wonder: first reactions to the phonograph's voice describe a shock almost visceral in its intensity. Writing of his initial test of the invention, Thomas Alva Edison recalled his own amazement: "I was never so taken aback in my life!" (Read and Welch 1959:107-9). ...

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2. A Magic Speaking Object: Early Patterns of Response to the Phonograph

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pp. 27-51

Edison knew he had a blockbuster invention on his hands—a machine with literally unheard-of potential. Nothing, however, in his technical notes or subsequent promotional writings suggests that he reflected deeply on the radical challenge the device would make on the expectations and perceptions of those first exposed to it, ...

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3. Collectors and the Phonograph: "Save, Save the Lore!"

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pp. 52-88

Academics get short shrift in the popular imagination, seldom glamorized, often ridiculed. In this regard, ethnographers can boast an image better than most. At a party, or in casual chat with an airplane seat partner, confessing "anthropology" or "folklore" as one's profession at least elicits the murmur, "How interesting—just like Margaret Mead," ...

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4. Performers and the Phonograph: The Box That Got the Flourishes

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pp. 89-117

One of the lesser known fables of Aesop recounts a meeting between a man and a lion before a vast mural realistically depicting a triumphant hunter, his foot on the neck of the vanquished king of beasts. Concerned about his companion's reaction to the piece, the man turns inquiringly to the lion, ...

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5. A Spiral Way: Bringing the Voices Home

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pp. 118-126

The modest Capitol Hill row house where Running Scout recorded for Alice Fletcher was razed in the mid-1970s to make way for the James Madison Building, part of the Library of Congress-coincidentally, the very building that would eventually house her cylinder collections and those of her adopted Omaha son, Francis La Flesche. ...

Notes

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pp. 127-134

References

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pp. 135-148

Index

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pp. 149-156