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Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Arts and Humanities legacy departments
Title: Flesh made word: secondary orality and the materialism of sound
Author(s): Spelliscy, Mary Jill
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Approaching the subject of 'orality' as a complex social-historical practice containing fissures of technological inversion and spatial-acoustic transgression, this thesis seeks to understand the implications of an electronically realised 'secondary orality'. In particular, it seeks to understand this idea as it is elaborated in the media theory of Marshall McLuhan. The approach taken here attests to a vitally important, if often' ghosted', materialism of acoustic space, a context which is immediately and ambivalently implicated in the institutionalising and ideologising of communications technology. It is argued that a cultural media theory must address those forms of managed communicative experience that serve to diminish the everyday vernacular. The Introduction of the thesis identifies developments that have brought the idea of a 'secondary orality' into being. Chapter One examines Havelock's and Innis's privileging of technology in the orality question, as well as the general denial of acoustic practice within the orality-literacy debate. Chapter Two explores Ong's ideas on 'presence' as well as Derrida' s critique of Western phonocentrism in terms of the larger historical denial of sound. Chapter Three explores McLuhan's position on the techno-evolutionary overcoming of rationalism in the new electronic landscape and argues that his 'electronic materialism' is a form of interiorisation. Chapter Four turns to a discussion of the ancient world to consider oral ambivalence and the paradox of orality in the transition to literacy. Consideration is also given to the early modern emergence of a paradigm of abstract visualisation. Chapter Five examines the modern emergence of an oral resistance found in the acoustic otherworld of the' chapbook' and the poetics of Wordsworth, Blake, and Clare. Chapter Six discusses issues of the oral 'other' as found in the theories of Bakhtin, Volosinov, and Kristeva. Chapter Seven investigates a varied postmodern neo-McLuhanism in relation to issues of ecology, intertextuality, and the feminisation of technology. The Conclusion argues that 'secondary orality' involves a technological inversion of oral powers serving an electronic hegemony. The mimetically engineered spatial disorientation of transgressive sociality is further considered.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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