McGill's Carrie Rentschler and Jonathan Sterne launch Second Wounds , MP3: The Meaning of a Format, and The Sound Studies Reader

Please join us at the Drawn and Quarterly store (111 Bernard W.) on Wednesday, September 12, at 7pm, for a joint book launch with McGill professors Carrie Rentschler and Jonathan Sterne! They will be discussing their respective new books:  Rentschler's Second Wounds: Victims' Rights and the Media in the U.S. (Duke, 2011) shows how the victims' rights movement transformed news coverage of crime and violence. Sterne's MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke, 2012), is a 100-year history of the world’s most common audio format; The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge 2012) anthologizes classic and new scholarship on sound.  

In Second Wounds, Rentschler delves into language of victimization and victims' rights in the context of violence against women. She lays out the complicated history of victims' rights activism, highlighting the way in which the feminist discourse of victims' rights, which focused on the need to recognize the voices of women who had experienced violence, was co-opted by conservative activists who call for increased punishment for perpetrators of violence as a full "solution" to violence against women, completely ignoring the need for systemic analysis of such violence. She also examines the heavy influence of this conservative victims' rights movement on media portrayals of violence against women, which perpetuate the myths that aggressors are usually strangers; that such crimes generally take place "on the street" (which supports racist and classist ideas about who perpetrators of violence against women actually are); and that women are responsible for avoiding violence by not frequenting certain spaces, and by seeking male protectors to accompany them in public. As a self-defense teacher who focuses on women's physical empowerment and is adamant about bringing conversations about systemic oppression and violence into self-defense workshops, Rentschler offers new perspectives on "antivictimization" and on the importance of focusing on education and prevention in a way that doesn't simplistically tell girls and women: "Don't be a victim!"
For more details, check out this great interview Rentschler did with Bitch magazine!

In MP3: The Meaning of a Format, Jonathan Sterne traces the history of the mp3 from the initial Bell Labs hearing model to its present ubiquitous status as the default audio format, and the ongoing "pirating" controversy that surrounds its use. He argues that the perception of the mp3 as "dematerialized" or "invisible" is erroneous, because the mp3 is in fact just as much a "thing" as are CD's or vinyl - you can hold it in your hand, too, as long as it's in a container (an mp3 player, for instance), and it is also subject to physical limitations such as bandwidth and hard drive storage capacities. What the mp3 lacks in aesthetic attractiveness and collectability, Sterne argues, it makes up for by being closer to "the social demand for music-- the desire to be with music, to move with it and share it". In Sterne's mp3 history, there are many surprising elements, including an account of how music file formats are tested (not at all dissimilar from how potato chips or canned foods are tested - that is, on a hedonic scale of relative pleasure or displeasure upon consumption), and some myth-debunking around who the major winners/losers/players in the business of mp3s really are (hint: it's definitely not just record companies and end users!). Mp3's are certainly going to be around for another good while, so this extended analysis of their history is sure to be an enlightening read!

For more details, have a look at this illuminating interview Sterne did with Pitchfork!

Sterne is also launching The Sound Studies Reader, a collection he edited, which "touches on key themes like noise and silence; architecture, acoustics and space; media and reproducibility; listening, voices and disability; culture, community, power and difference; and shifts in the form and meaning of sound across cultures, contexts and centuries" (from Routledge). Contributors range from Frantz Fanon, to Jacques Derrida, to Roland Barthes, to Georgina Born. The featured pieces "reflect on crucial historical moments, difficult definitions, and competing accounts of the role of sound in culture and everyday life". 

This sounds like a truly thought/ear-provoking line-up! Refreshments and low definition sound will be served (we hear tell of plans to set up several audio stations around the store...). We hope to see you there!

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