Animal Sounds against the Noise of Modernity and War: Julian Huxley (1887–1975) and the Preservation of the Sonic World Heritage (2017)

Marianne Sommer

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This paper engages with Julian Huxley’s and Ludwig Koch’s sound recording of animals and the production of “soundbooks.” This collection and preservation of animal vocalization is discussed in the larger context of Huxley’s engagement with nature conservation that included the fight against the noise of modernity. He also promoted the protection of nature through the medium of film and its capacity to store and distribute sounds. I focus on Huxley’s directorship of the London Zoo (1935-42) but follow these endeavors up to his involvement in the foundation of the WWF. Once again, the parallels between zoo – where the sound recordings were made – and film, which also presented animated animals, through human and/or animal sound, become apparent. For Huxley, animals could not possess language; that was the preserve of the crown of evolution, i.e. humankind. But they should have a voice. Finding the right voice to politically represent animals on record, film, or cartoon proved to be a long journey.
typeresearch exposition
keywordssound, Journal of sonic studies, Julian Huxley, Ludwig Koch, Soundbooks, London zoo, sound studies
last modified19/01/2017
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue13.
connected toJournal of Sonic Studies

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