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The Voice as Something More

Essays toward Materiality

With an Afterword by Mladen Dolar
In the contemporary world, voices are caught up in fundamentally different realms of discourse, practice, and culture: between sounding and nonsounding, material and nonmaterial, literal and metaphorical. In The Voice as Something More, Martha Feldman and Judith T. Zeitlin tackle these paradoxes with a bold and rigorous collection of essays that look at voice as both object of desire and material object.
Using Mladen Dolar’s influential A Voice and Nothing More as a reference point, The Voice as Something More reorients Dolar’s psychoanalytic analysis around the material dimensions of voices—their physicality and timbre, the fleshiness of their mechanisms, the veils that hide them, and the devices that enhance and distort them. Throughout, the essays put the body back in voice. Ending with a new essay by Dolar that offers reflections on these vocal aesthetics and paradoxes, this authoritative, multidisciplinary collection, ranging from Europe and the Americas to East Asia, from classics and music to film and literature, will serve as an essential entry point for scholars and students who are thinking toward materiality.

See audio and video examples cited in the book.

400 pages | 35 halftones, 2 line drawings, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2019

New Material Histories of Music

Music: General Music


“Where to start, with voice? The answer is with The Voice as Something More, essays that sweep through familiar academic and philosophical debates on voice, only to move on, with rare collective intensity, to voice as not heretofore imagined. The intellectual range in these essays is extraordinary, and what they represent is not a consensus. Rather, this invaluable book is something with far more life, reflections that convey how perplexing voice, as a concept, remains to analysis, while acknowledging how voice as a material phenomenon is terrifying, or beguiling, unlovely, or exquisite—and how disquieting that inconsistency can be.”

Carolyn Abbate, Harvard University

“This is one of those rare volumes that amply delivers on the promise of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary inquiry. It revolves around Mladen Dolar’s groundbreaking book but orients that orbital axis toward problems of materiality and cultural and historical difference. A richly informative and theoretically brilliant collection, The Voice as Something More inaugurates a new, more vibrant and dialogic era in voice studies.”

Kerim Yasar, University of Southern California

“The Voice as Something More serves as an enlivening key change in scholarship on the voice, reassessing and reinvigorating approaches, themes, and case studies that have been central to that scholarship, while modulating it to new and dynamic registers. With its impressive interdisciplinary scope, it will be an essential guide for readers new to the topic and a valuable resource for scholars who mistakenly thought there was nothing more to say about the voice.”

Jacob Smith, Northwestern University

"A thorough inquiry into the physiological, psychological, and sociopolitical contexts of voice."

Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture

"The volume embraces an impressive array of disciplinary voices, from musicologists, music theorists, composers, and poets, to classicists and scholars of Chinese, Japanese, and German literature and culture. . . . This beautifully crafted set of essays, in their intersecting exchanges with one another, offers hope that the voice may continue to be thought in everdispersing ways that make its conventional formulation tremble."

Journal of the American Musicological Society

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Musical Examples (Print)
List of Website Examples (Audiovisual)


The Clamor of Voices
Martha Feldman and Judith T. Zeitlin

Part I: Sound-Producing Voice

1 Speech and/in Song
Steven Rings

2 From the Natural to the Instrumental: Chinese Theories of the Sounding Voice before the Modern Era
Judith T. Zeitlin

Part II: Limit Cases

3 Voice, Music, Modernism: The Case of Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen
Marcelle Pierson

4 Screamlines: On the Anatomy and Geology of Radio
Neil Verma

Part III: Vocal Owners and Borrowed Voices

5 It’s All by Someone Else
Robert Polito

6 The Artist’s Impression: Ethel Waters as Mimic
Laurie Stras

7 “I Am an Essentialist”: Against the Voice Itself
James Q. Davies

Part IV: Myth, Wound, and Gap

8 Is the Voice a Myth? A Rereading of Ovid
Shane Butler

9 Voice Gap Crack Break
Martha Feldman

10 The Gesamtkunstwerk and Its Discontents: The Wounded Voice in (and around) Alexander von Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf
David J. Levin

11 There Is No Such Thing as the Composer’s Voice
Seth Brodsky

Part V: Interlude: The Gendered Voice

12 Vowels/Consonants: The Legend of a “Gendered” (Sexual) Difference Told by Cinema
Michel Chion, translated by Zakir Paul

Part VI: Technology, Difference, and the Uncanny

13 The Prosthetic Voice in Ancient Greece
Sarah Nooter

14 The Duppy in the Machine: Voice and Technology in Jamaican Popular Music
Andrew F. Jones

15 The Actor’s Absent Voice: Silent Cinema and the Archives of Kabuki in Prewar Japan
Jonathan Zwicker

16 A Voice That Is Not Mine: Terror and the Mythology of the Technological Voice
Tom Gunning


Voices That Matter
Mladen Dolar
List of Contributors

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