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Material Texts: Mara Mills (NYU): “Words Per Minute: How Blind Readers Sped Up Broadcasting”
Monday, January 23, 2017 - 5:15pm to 6:45pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center on the 6th Floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Mara writes: 

Recorded speech gained momentum in the 1970s, thanks to the commercialization of "time compressors" that allowed tapes to be accelerated without changing pitch. Initially designed for blind readers of Talking Books, time compression began to be employed in radio commercials, television shows, museum displays, sound art, and foreign language cassette courses. Mills lectured at Penn last year on the early history of speed listening. Now in Part II, she examines the popularization of time compression, and the reactions of cultural critics like Toffler and McLuhan as words per minute surged across mass media.

 Mara Mills is Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, working at the intersection of disability studies and media studies. Her first book, On the Phone: Deafness and Communication Engineering, is forthcoming next year from Duke University Press. Mills’s writings on electroacoustics, audiovisual media, and disability can be found in Grey RoomdifferencesSocial Text, and The Sound Studies Reader, among other volumes. Her second book project, Print Disability and New Reading Formats, examines the reformatting of print over the course of the past century by blind and other print disabled readers, with a focus on electronic reading machines. It is under contract with the University of Minnesota Press for their new Manifold print/digital hybrid series.