My scholarly interests concern the relationship between different forms of cultural and economic power, particularly in relation to the development of modern consumer capitalist society. More precisely, these interests crystallize around subjects related to citizenship, critiques of capitalism, intellectual property, advertising, photography, film, literature, and music. These also encompass a concern for the broader historiographic challenge of cultural history itself and the problems inherent in writing histories of “experience.” This has led me into a deep interest as well in sensory experience—seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling—and consideration of the senses as social constructions, whose historical significance can vary over time and space.
My publications include:
Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music (Harvard UP, 2009), named one of Choice’s “Outstanding Academic Titles for 2009”;winner of the Hagley Prize for the Best Book in Business History, and the DeSantis Book Prize, Society of Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era; and honorable mention for the Woody Guthrie Prize, International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), U.S. branch
Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), co-edited with Susan Strasser
“Sound, Knowledge, and the ‘Immanence of Human Failure’: Rethinking Musical Mechanization through the Phonograph, the Player-Piano, and the Piano,” Social Text 102 (Spring 2010)
“Co-workers in the Kingdom of Culture: Black Swan Records and the Political Economy of African-American Music.” Journal of American History 90 (March 2004).
Since 2011, I have been associate editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.