Chapter

Introduction: What Is the “Theater of the Mind”?

in Theater of the Mind

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780226853505
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226853529 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226853529.003.0001
Introduction: What Is the “Theater of the Mind”?

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The saying “Radio, the Theater of the Mind” has been so consistently associated with radio drama that it often serves as a synonym for the genre, if not the entire medium. Some historians associate the term with actor Joseph Julian, who describes radio in his memoir not as a theater of the mind but as a theater in the mind. This book presents an aesthetic and cultural history of classic radio drama in the United States and shows that the link between mind and medium through radio stories was insinuated because the aims of the networks and the ideas of key broadcasters intersected with a particular set of political, technical, and cultural developments. Drawing on manuals, reports, commentaries, trade publications, and audio recordings, it describes the aesthetics of evening radio dramas aired from 1937 to 1955. The book also contextualizes the so-called drama of space and time that became vibrant in the late 1930s and was rooted in techniques for the use of volume, acoustics, and sound effects to draw pictures in the mind.

Keywords: radio drama; theater of mind; aesthetics; cultural history; United States; acoustics; sound effects; volume; space and time

Chapter.  6434 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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