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Author: Farokh Soltani

Radio / body draws from the philosophical discipline of phenomenology to question a number of prevalent ideas in radio theory and practice. The intention is to shift the basis for comprehending the experience of radio drama from theoretical systems such as semiotics, and abstract metaphors such as ‘visual imagination’ and ‘theatre of the mind’, towards a model that understands it in terms of perceptual, bodily experience of a holistic, graspable world. It posits that radio drama works because the sonic structure created through its dramaturgy expresses the perceptual experience of encountering the auditory world – a ‘listening to a listening’ – and radio dramaturgy can be understood as a process of structuring sounds that listen to the dramatic world. Using this insight, it is posited that conventional radio dramaturgy generates a mode of listening focused on the referential meaning of the sounds, rather than their affective qualities – this is labelled the semantic paradigm of British radio. The history of this paradigm is explored in depth, revealing its emergence to be the product of contingent cultural and technological factors. Now that these factors have changed radically due to the rise of digital technologies, it is argued that a paradigm shift is taking place, with a move towards a more bodily, more resonant dramaturgy.

The theatre of the mind and beyond
Farokh Soltani

In this chapter, I want to examine the most common theoretical solutions to the problem of radio drama, both to critique them and to build on them to lay the foundation of a phenomenological solution. It is divided into two parts; first, I examine the more representational theories of radio drama – characterised by the description the theatre of the mind – and critique them, before moving on to accounts that are more open to a phenomenological reading, which I then use to build and refine a phenomenology of listening to radio drama

in Radio / body
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John Mundy and Glyn White

Just as silent film comedy developed in ways which overcame the absence of I speech and other aural effects, radio comedy developed techniques which circumvented the medium’s lack of pictures and which emphasised its own distinctive codes and conventions. Whereas silent film comedians relied on visual comedy, radio comedians and their scriptwriters explored the potential

in Laughing matters
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A phenomenological model of radio drama
Farokh Soltani

In the previous chapter, I posited that a phenomenological model of the listener's bodily experience of radio drama as a world can provide a critical tool with which to approach radio drama, and modes of radio dramaturgy. In this chapter, I continue this line of argument by providing a phenomenological account of the experience of radio drama; by suspending theorisation and instead describing the phenomenon of radio drama, I develop an analytical model in which the structure of radio dramaturgy can be understood as that of an act of listening

in Radio / body
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Psychoanalysis in the public sphere, 1968–88
Richard Bates

The publication of Le Cas Dominique in 1971, and the simultaneous reissuing by Éditions du Seuil of Psychanalyse et pédiatrie , her thesis written in the 1930s, reinforced Dolto’s public status as an expert in child psychology and added her to the growing list of French psychoanalysts enjoying a degree of publishing success in the years after 1968. Dolto made it into Who’s Who in France in 1975. But it was her radio career that was principally responsible for making her a household name, especially the

in Psychoanalysis and the family in twentieth-century France
A genealogy of the semantic paradigm of radio dramaturgy
Farokh Soltani

In the previous chapter, I posited that British radio dramaturgy follows a semantic paradigm. I then argued that this paradigm could be critiqued for its disregard for resonance, and instead envisaged a hypothetical resonant mode of dramaturgy, through which the radio-body listens to itself. I then highlighted a significant critique of this hypothesis: the historical dominance of the semantic paradigm can imply that it is the ‘final’ form of radio drama. Andrew Crisell follows such an argument in ‘Better than Magritte’ – an

in Radio / body
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The creative nexus
Jeffrey Richards

, the sheet music of the film and above all radio. When radio first took off in the United States in the late 1920s, it was regarded by the film industry as a rival, something to keep people at home and away from the cinema. But during the 1930s, Hollywood began to appreciate the value of radio in publicizing and promoting its films. It discovered that radio complemented films rather than substituted for them and a richly symbiotic relationship developed between

in Cinema and radio in Britain and America, 1920–60
The creative tension
Jeffrey Richards

The British broadcasting service was set up in 1922 with a monopoly and finance from a licence fee following negotiations between the Post Office, which controlled the air waves, and the radio industry, which manufactured the equipment. The Post Office was anxious to avoid what it saw as the chaos of unregulated broadcasting in the United States and was concerned with the function of broadcasting as a public utility. But it had no philosophy

in Cinema and radio in Britain and America, 1920–60
The semantic paradigm of British radio dramaturgy and its problems
Farokh Soltani

Now that we have a phenomenological framework to analyse radio drama, I can begin to apply this framework to historical and contemporary radio dramaturgies in more concrete and specific detail, to critique aspects of practice and to explore possible future developments. I begin this with the chapter at hand, in which I analyse how conventional British radio drama listens to its world. I want to make a rather bold claim here: that conventional British radio production is dominated by a certain dramaturgical attitude, which results in a radio

in Radio / body
Resonant radio dramaturgies
Farokh Soltani

What happens when a paradigm is in crisis? As Kuhn remarks, ‘the significance of crises is the indication they provide that an occasion for retooling has arrived’ ( 1996 : 76, italics mine). The crisis of the semantic paradigm, rooted in its inefficiency addressing the shifts in listenership, production and distribution in the current era, could therefore be resolved with a retooling of dramaturgical solutions and practices. How, then, can radio dramaturgy retool itself to adapt to the new conditions, and resolve the crisis? It is here that

in Radio / body