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Jeremy Braddock: Remediating the Studio System in May 1970, The Firesign Theatre's "Don't Crush That Dwarf Hand Me the Pliers"

Date and Time: 
Friday, November 5, 2021. 12:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Zoom
Workshop: 
Working Group in Literary & Visual Culture
Meeting Description: 

In nine albums recorded for Columbia Records between 1967 and 1975, the Firesign Theatre exploited the multitrack recording studio as a medium for literary writing in a way that has never been equaled, before or since. A hallmark of these recordings is the way their aural representation of numerous forms of media (often simultaneously). Though they are ostensibly comedy records, they contain a surprisingly trenchant and informed critique of the increasing mediatization of society during the Nixon years, creating highly mobile narratives set in a quasi-authoritarian world of curfews, restrictions, and mandatory consumption. Drawing from his book-length study of the Firesign Theatre, Jeremy Braddock will examine the group's third album, Don't Crush That Dwarf Hand Me the Pliers (1970), paying particular attention to the narrative effects made possible with the new technologies of Dolby Noise Reduction and the 8-channel mixing desk. Recorded at the time of the Kent State killings and the historic MGM auction, the album can be understood as an attempt to propose the long-playing record as a new home for long-form narrative, in the wake of classical Hollywood's collapse.

This is a virtual event. Please RSVP to receive Zoom link. >>

Jeremy Braddock is associate professor in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell University, where he is also chair of the Media Studies Initiative, and of CIVIC, the provost’s taskforce for radical collaboration in the humanities. He has written extensively about modernist culture, in particular it institutions and the way they managed relationships between white and Black cultural production. His 2012 book Collecting as Modernist Practice was awarded the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize. He is now working on a book provisionally titled Firesign: An Archaeology of all Media and History of Everything as Told on Nine Comedy Albums Recorded in Los Angeles, 1967-1975.

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