About

Media/Sound Technology Historian, Ursinus College

My research disrupts common assumptions about technology’s ability to change how the media industry operates. Specifically, I look at how Hollywood has limited the storytelling potentials of its sound technologies, and how these acoustical limitations have served to reinforce the power inequities that exist between studios heads, tech companies, and below-the-line workers.

My publications include studies of film music in the “silent” era, early tape recording technologies, the creation of the “Academy Curve” standard, and the history of surround sound.

Books

Making Stereo Fit: The History of a Disquieting Film Technology, Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2024. (Download the “Introduction”)

Articles

Tape Recording Hollywood: The Inaudibility of New Film Sound Technology.” Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 16, no. 2 (2022): 101–127. (Download)

Under the Standard: MGM, AT&T, and the Academy’s Regulation of Power.” JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 59, no. 3 (2020): 23–45. (Download)

The Myth of the Speakers: A Critical Reexamination of Dolby History.” Film History 28, no. 1 (2016): 167–193. Winner of the Katherine Singer Kovács Essay Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 2017. (Download)

Synch Holes and Patchwork in Early Feature-Film Scores.” Music and the Moving Image 7, no. 1 (2014): 40–53. (Download)

Book Chapters

Monocentrism, or Soundtracks in Space.” In Voicing the Cinema: Film Music and the Integrated Soundtrack, edited by James Buhler and Hannah Lewis, 229–44. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2020. (Download)

Podcasts, Reviews, and Roundtables

The Merry Widow (1934) and Sound Recording Technology.” How Would Lubitsch Do It? (2024)

The Sounds of Silents.” Phantom Power: A Pod About Sound (2019).

“Reflections on Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Seattle 2019.” Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 13, no. 1 (2019): 59–82.

Media Dialogues.” The Velvet Light Trap 82 (2018): 43–60.

Singin’ in the Sun: La La Canned vs. La La Live.” Observations on Film Art: David Bordwell’s Website on Cinema (2017).

Adventures in 3-D Sound: Reopening the House of Wax.” University of Wisconsin Cinematheque (2017).

“Jacques Rivette” The Velvet Light Trap 68 (2011): 65–66.

Education

B.A., Washington University in Saint Louis
M.A. & Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Eric Dienstfrey

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