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Considers the avant-garde rethinking of poetic language in terms of physical speech production.

Avant-garde writers and artists of the twentieth century radically reconceived poetic language, appropriating scientific theories and techniques as they turned their attention to the physical process of spoken language. This modernist "sound writing" focused on the bodily production of speech, which it rendered in poetic, legible, graphic form.

Modernist sound writing aims to capture the acoustic phenomenon of vocal articulation by graphic means. Tobias Wilke considers sound writing from its inception in nineteenth-century disciplines like physiology and experimental phonetics, following its role in the aesthetic practices of the interwar avant-garde and through to its reemergence in the postwar period. These projects work with the possibility of crossing over from the audible to the visible, from speech to notation, from body to trace. Employing various techniques and concepts, this search for new possibilities played a central role in the transformation of poetry into a site of radical linguistic experimentation. Considering the works of writers and artists--including Raoul Hausmann, Kurt Schwitters, Viktor Shklovsky, Hugo Ball, Charles Olson, and Marshall McLuhan--Wilke offers a fresh look at the history of the twentieth-century avant-garde.

Publication Date: 
April 26, 2022