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Title: From birdsong to rotor slap : the sonic experience of American national parks
Author: Barker, Stuart J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 8777
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores how Euro-American settlers, explorers, tourists and to a more limited extent Native Americans, have listened to and interpreted natural sounds within the United States. It examines how Americans gained knowledge of their environment through the sounds that they listened to, and argues that the aural sense was pivotal to their understanding of these places. Primarily, this thesis investigates these experiences through case studies of two national parks, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. I explore how the soundscapes of these two parks evolved from sounding predominantly natural at the mid to end of the nineteenth century to having the sonic imprint of tourism and mechanisation in the twentieth century. The effect that noise pollution had on visitors' perceptions of these places is examined and I argue that human-made noise altered their sense of place. John Muir's engagement with natural sounds and his promotion of national parks as a sonic experience are detailed. I argue that Muir rated the aural sense alongside the visual in his enjoyment of nature. This thesis offers a new approach to environmental and national park scholarship, which have both previously failed to explain or even explore the human experience of natural spaces through the aural sense in any depth. I argue that listening was core to the national park experience and challenge the visuocentric approach to both environmental and national park history. The following work also expands on previous aural history scholarship that has largely centred on urban soundscapes.
Supervisor: Wills, John ; Collins, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available