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date: 22 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter explores the way English-language etiquette books from the nineteenth century prescribe accepted behavior for upwardly mobile members of the bourgeoisie. This advice extended to social events known today as “salons” that were conducted in the domestic drawing room or parlor, where guests would perform musical selections for the enjoyment of other guests. The audience for such informal music making was expected to listen attentively, in keeping with the (self-) disciplining of the bourgeois body that such regulations represented in the nineteenth century. Yet even as the modern world became noisier and aurally more confusing, so, too, did contemporary social events, which led authors to become stricter in their disciplining of the audience at these drawing room performances. Nevertheless, hosts and guests could not avoid the growing “crisis of attention” pervading this mode of entertainment, which would lead to the modern habit of inattentive listening.

Keywords: attentive listening, crisis of attention, salon, drawing room, etiquette book, inattentive listening, listening and the body, listening behavior

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