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Theater of the Mind Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama by Neil Verma

Theater of the Mind Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama


Theater of the Mind Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama by Neil Verma

For generations, fans and critics have characterized classic American radio drama as a theater of the mind . This book examines that characterization by recasting the radio play as an aesthetic object within its unique historical context. In Theater of the Mind , Neil Verma applies an array of critical methods to more than six thousand recordings to produce a vivid new account of radio drama from the Depression to the Cold War. In this sweeping exploration of dramatic conventions, Verma investigates legendary dramas by the likes of Norman Corwin, Lucille Fletcher, and Wyllis Cooper on key programs ranging from The Columbia Workshop, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, and Cavalcade of America to Lights Out!, Suspense, and Dragnet to reveal how these programs promoted and evolved a series of models of the imagination. With close readings of individual sound effects and charts of broad trends among formats, Verma not only gives us a new account of the most flourishing form of genre fiction in the mid-twentieth century but also presents a powerful case for the central place of the aesthetics of sound in the history of modern experience.


Theater of the Mind does more to reanimate the study of radio forms and structures - indeed, of sound art in general - than any work published in recent memory. Neil Verma's exploration of audio narratives and sonic techniques during radio drama's heyday opens up a vast body of creative work that has been shut off from serious contemplation for decades. It is an important intervention in the growing field of sound studies, not to be missed. (Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin - Madison)

About the Author

Neil Verma is a Harper Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and collegiate assistant professor in the humanities at the University of Chicago.

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Book Info

Publication date

14th August 2012


Neil Verma

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University of Chicago Press an imprint of The University of Chicago Press


296 pages


Popular culture
Literary studies: plays & playwrights



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