Interspecies Communication: Sound and Music beyond Humanity (Paperback)

Interspecies Communication: Sound and Music beyond Humanity By Gavin Steingo Cover Image
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A surprising study reveals a plethora of attempts to communicate with non-humans in the modern era.  
In Interspecies Communication, music scholar Gavin Steingo examines significant cases of attempted communication beyond the human—cases in which the dualistic relationship of human to non-human is dramatically challenged. From singing whales to Sun Ra to searching for alien life, Steingo charts the many ways we have attempted to think about, and indeed to reach, beings that are very unlike ourselves.

Steingo focuses on the second half of the twentieth century, when scientists developed new ways of listening to oceans and cosmic space—two realms previously inaccessible to the senses and to empirical investigation. As quintessential frontiers of the postwar period, the outer space of the cosmos and the inner space of oceans were conceptualized as parallel realities, laid bare by newly technologized “ears.” Deeply engaging, Interspecies Communication explores our attempts to cross the border between the human and non-human, to connect with non-humans in the depths of the oceans, the far reaches of the universe, or right under our own noses.

About the Author

Gavin Steingo is professor of music at Princeton University. He is the author of Kwaito’s Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa, published by the University of Chicago Press.

Praise For…

“This gripping and wide-ranging book explores how our efforts at communication with nonhumans tangle with complex questions of desire, affection, fear, and hope—all that lies beyond the domain of human reason. Eschewing the pastoral and accelerationist tendencies of posthumanism, Steingo’s method is focused squarely on the social injustices of modernity. His prose displays a restless critical mood that never fails to illuminate and provoke. An outstanding read.” 
— Michael Gallope, author of "The Musician as Philosopher: New York’s Vernacular Avant-Garde, 1958-1978"

“Why is it that dreams of communication with animals, aliens, and other human adjacents invariably turn to music? Gavin Steingo has an answer, and it has all the charm and none of the flakiness that usually accompany such dreams. Witty, rational, and healthy-minded, he calls for both love and meaning. Humanity needs this book.”
— John Durham Peters, author of "Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication"
Product Details
ISBN: 9780226831367
ISBN-10: 0226831361
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: April 9th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English