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Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson is a Professor of History at Princeton University.

Titles by This Author

Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933

In this history of aural culture in early-twentieth-century America, Emily Thompson charts dramatic transformations in what people heard and how they listened. What they heard was a new kind of sound that was the product of modern technology. They listened as newly critical consumers of aural commodities. By examining the technologies that produced this sound, as well as the culture that enthusiastically consumed it, Thompson recovers a lost dimension of the Machine Age and deepens our understanding of the experience of change that characterized the era.

Reverberation equations, sound meters, microphones, and acoustical tiles were deployed in places as varied as Boston's Symphony Hall, New York's office skyscrapers, and the soundstages of Hollywood. The control provided by these technologies, however, was applied in ways that denied the particularity of place, and the diverse spaces of modern America began to sound alike as a universal new sound predominated. Although this sound—clear, direct, efficient, and nonreverberant—had little to say about the physical spaces in which it was produced, it speaks volumes about the culture that created it. By listening to it, Thompson constructs a compelling new account of the experience of modernity in America.

Titles by This Editor

How do the spaces in which science is done shape the identity of the scientist and the self-conception of scientific fields? How do the sciences structure the identity of the architect and the practice of architecture in a specific period? And how does the design of spaces such as laboratories, hospitals, and museums affect how the public perceives and interacts with the world of science? The Architecture of Science offers a dazzling set of speculations on these issues by historians of science, architecture, and art; architectural theorists; and sociologists as well as practicing scientists and architects. The essays are organized into six sections: "Of Secrecy and Openness: Science and Architecture in Early Modern Europe"; "Displaying and Concealing Technics in the Nineteenth Century"; "Modern Space"; "Is Architecture Science?"; "Princeton after Modernism: The Lewis Thomas Laboratory for Molecular Biology"; and "Centers, Cities, and Colliders."