Spring 2020 Dresher Center Graduate Student Research Fellow
J. Inscoe, Ph.D. Candidate, Language, Literacy, and Culture Program
Project: The Rest of the Story: Paul Harvey, American Evangelism, and Sonic Waves of Grain
Much of America’s soundscape remains fringe, relegated to a technologically “amateur” past (as in radio) or to a distasteful low culture, stewing in an untamed mire of combative, hate-speech (as in conservative talk radio). As with American race relations and persistent gender inequalities, history acts as a lens by which we render the present visible. Media personalities such as Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh don’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, we may understand contemporary America through the ideological processes which shaped and continue to shape an ideal national identity: traditional gender and sexuality expectations, capitalist democracy, moral purity, and xenophobia, to name a few. Inscoe argues, however, that in order to understand the pernicious process of American standardization, we must consider the historical process of American vocal standardization–that is, the construction of an authoritative and national language, discourse, and vocal aesthetic–through a cultural radio history, a genealogy centered around the father of a bucolic, conservative, mediated American evangelism: Paul Harvey.
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