John Picker

John Picker


John Picker teaches courses in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first century literature and media. His interests include Victorian and transatlantic studies, auditory culture, and media history. His book Victorian Soundscapes is featured in a recent blog entry at The Paris Review. He is a member of the editorial board of Sound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, which will begin publication with Routledge in 2016. He recently has been invited to speak on such topics as “His Monster’s Voice” at the Stanford Humanities Center, “The Telephone Booth, Noise, and Public Privacy” at the Yale School of Architecture, “Reading the Atlantic Cable” at University College Dublin, “Auditory Anxieties and Modernity” at the Berlin-Brandenberg Academy of Sciences, “Transatlantic Acousmatics” at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies colloquium, and London street cries for the Modern Language Association’s “What’s the Word?” radio series. He can be seen and heard in “The Whole Wired World” from Wired: A World Transformed by the Telegraph, a recent exhibit at the Maihaugan Gallery at MIT.

He and his wife live in Cambridge with their son and daughter.

Victorian and modern literature, media history, auditory culture and sound studies, transatlanticism


Victorian Soundscapes (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003; Oxford
Scholarship Online, 2007; Kindle, 2011)
Google BooksOxford University Press

Selections reprinted in:

The Sound Studies Reader, ed. Jonathan Sterne (London and New York: Routledge,
AmazonGoogle Routledge

Sound Studies: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, ed. Michael Bull (London and New York:    Routledge, 2013)
AmazonGoogle Books Routledge

Selected Articles

“The Telephone Booth: Public Privacy and the Evolution of Sonic Space,” in The Auditory Culture Reader, 2nd edition, ed. Michael Bull and Les Back (London: Bloomsbury, 2016)

“My Fair Lady Automaton,” ZAA: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, special issue on Victorian Oral Cultures, ed. Anne Zwierlein, 63.1 (2015)

“English Beat: The Stethoscopic Era’s Sonic Traces,” in Sounds of Modern History: Auditory Cultures in Nineteeth- and Twentieth-Century Europe, ed. Daniel Morat (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2014) AmazonBerghahn

“Threads Across the Ocean: The Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, July 1858 and August 1866,” Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History, ed. Dino Felluga, Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, (2013) [PDF]

“Aural Anxieties and the Advent of Modernity,” in The Victorian World, ed. Martin Hewitt (London and New York: Routledge, 2012; paper, 2013), 603-618 [PDF]

“Current Thinking: On Transatlantic Victorianism,” Victorian Literature and Culture 39 (2011): 595-603 [PDF]

“Two National Anthems,” in A New Literary History of America, ed. Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009; paper, 2012), 84-88
AmazonNLHA websiteHarvard University Press

“Atlantic Cable,” for a forum on “Victorian Things,” Victorian Review 34.1 (2008): 34-38

Victorian Soundscapes Revisited,” in Victorian Soundscapes Revisited, ed. Martin Hewitt and Rachel Cowgill (Leeds: Trinity and All Saints, 2007), 36-52
Google Books

“George Eliot and the Sequel Question,” New Literary History 37 (2006): 361-88 [PDF]

“The Tramp of a Fly’s Footstep, or, the Shriek, Rattle, and Roar of a Victorian Sound Track,” The American Scholar 71.2 (2002): 85-94

“The Victorian Aura of the Recorded Voice,” New Literary History 32 (2001): 769-86 [PDF]

“‘Red War Is My Song’: Whitman, Higginson, and Civil War Music,” in Walt Whitman and Modern Music: War, Desire, and the Trials of Nationhood, ed. Lawrence Kramer (New York: Garland, 2000), 1-23; paper, Routledge, 2015.
AmazonGoogle BooksRoutledge

“Shylock and the Struggle for Closure,” in Shakespearean Criticism 53, ed. Michelle Lee
(Detroit: Gale, 2000), 127-36

“The Soundproof Study: Victorian Professionals, Work Space, and Urban Noise,” Victorian Studies 42 (2000): 427-53 [PDF]

“Disturbing Surfaces: Representations of the Fragment in The School for Scandal,” ELH 65 (1998): 637-52  [PDF]

Electronic Edition

“Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s ‘Negro Spirituals,’” American Studies Hypertexts at the University of Virginia (1996; rev. 2000)


Sensing Chicago: Noisemakers, Strikebreakers, and Muckrakers, by Adam Mack, Journal of Social History 49 (2016)

Voice and the Victorian Storyteller, by Ivan Kreilkamp, Victorian Review 33.2 (2007): 156-58

Literature, Technology, and Modernity, 1860-2000, by Nicholas Daly, Victorian Studies 47 (2005): 597-98

How Early America Sounded, by Richard Cullen Rath, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 112 (2004): 71-72

Reviews of fiction and criticism for VQR (1996-2000)

Subjects taught the current academic year:


Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.012 Forms of Western Narrative (Spring 2014)

21L.310 Bestsellers: Pulp Fictions (Ends March 18) (Spring 2016)

21L.320 Big Books: David Copperfield (Begins March 28) (Spring 2016)

21L.475 Enlightenment and Modernity: Victorian Modernity (Fall 2013)