Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith is the author of Vocal Tracks: Performance and Sound Media (University of California Press 2008), Spoken Word: Postwar American Phonograph Cultures (University of California Press 2011), and The Thrill Makers: Celebrity, Masculinity, and Stunt Performance (University of California Press 2012). He writes and teaches about the cultural history of media, with a focus on sound and performance.


PhD Department of Communication and Culture, Indiana University

Recent Publications

“Phonograph Toys and Early Sound Cartoons: Towards a History of Visualized Phonography,” in Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 7, no. 2, July 2012.

“Kissing as Telling: Some Thoughts on the Cultural History of Media Performance,” for Cinema Journal: In Focus section on media performance, Cinema Journal, Vol. 51, no. 3, 2012.

“Turn Me On, Dead Media: A Backwards Look at the Re-enchantment of an Old Medium,” External link icon in Television and New Media.

[co-authored with Patrick Feaster] “Reconfiguring the History of Early Cinema Through the Phonograph,” in Film History, Volume 21, 2009, pp 311-325.

“A Town Called Riddle: Excavating Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There,” in Screen, Spring 2010, Volume 51, Number 1, p. 71-78. [Reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 313. Detroit: Gale, 2012.]

“Tearing Speech to Pieces: Voice Technologies of the 1940s,” in Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, Volume 2, Number 2, Autumn 2008.

Recent Awards, Honors and Grants

Plenary address at Screen Conference at the University of Glasgow, July 2-4, 2010.

Society for Cinema and Media Studies Dissertation Award, 2005-2006.

Vocal Tracks was selected as a finalist for the 2008 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.


Film/Music/Video; Film Theory; Meet David Lynch; Film History; Advertising and Consumer Culture; Children’s Media Culture; Sound Studies.

Jacob Smith

Associate Professor




Annie May Swift Hall
1920 Campus Drive
Room 307
Evanston, Illinois 60208