Susan Schmidt-Horning

Associate Professor
History
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, 2002M.A., The University of Akron, 1992B. A., summa cum laude, The University of Akron, 1990

Susan Schmidt Horning came to St. John’s University in 2007 after teaching at The Cleveland Institute of Art and at Case Western Reserve University.  She specializes in 20th c. United States cultural history, history of technology, and sound studies, and she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in postwar U.S., technology and science,  the 1960s, media and technology, urban history, and global history since 1500. 

Prof. Schmidt Horning’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association of University Women, and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, and her essays have appeared in Music and Technology in the Twentieth Century (2002), The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon (2004), and in the journals ICON and Social Studies of Science. Her first book, Chasing Sound: Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), explores the interplay of technology, music, sound engineering, and creativity from the birth of the music recording industry to the 1970s. Her interest in music and technology is the natural extension of her previous life as a rock guitarist and singer who began playing at age fourteen in an all-girl rock band. She is currently working on a history of girl bands during the 1960s and 1970s, a study of how women engaged with technology and navigated the male-dominated world of rock music in the postwar era.

Conference Presentations

“Swinging the Symposium: ICOHTEC’s Jazz Evenings and Other Musical Events,” International Committee for the History of Technology 40th Symposium, Manchester, UK, July 2013.

“Not only Made in America: Informal Know-How Trading in the Sound Recording Industry Since World War II.” Society for the History of Technology Annual Meeting, Copenhagen, October 2012.

“Building Boom: Technology, Luxury, and the Sound Explosion of the 1970s.” International Committee for the History of Technology 39th Symposium, Barcelona, Spain, July 2012.

“Making it Sound Like the Record: The Challenge of Live Music Production in the 1960s.” Society for the History of Technology Annual Meeting, Cleveland, Ohio, November 2011.

“All-Consuming Technologies: Gadgeteers, Audiophiles, and the Passion for Sound (Re)Production.” International Committee for the History of Technology 38thSymposium, Glasgow, UK, August 2011.

“The Bill Savory Collection: 1930s Broadcast Recordings” (Co-presented with Doug Pomeroy). Association for Recorded Sound Collections Conference, Los Angeles, May 2011.

“Technology, Culture, and Cleveland's Studio Scene in the 1960s.” [email protected] Rock Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, April 2011.

“When High Fidelity Was New: How the Recording Studio Became a Musical Instrument.” The Fourth Annual Art of Record Production Conference, Lowell, Massachusetts, November 2008.

“Channeling Sound: Technology, Control and Boundaries in the 1960s Recording Studio.” International Committee for the History of Technology 35th Symposium, Victoria, British Columbia, August 2008.

“Chasing Sound: The Culture and Technology of Recording Studios in the 20thCentury.” Junior Faculty Research Colloquium, St. John’s University, March 2008.

“Manipulative Women: A Brief History of Women in Sound Engineering, From the Phonograph to the Control Room.”  International Committee for the History of Technology 33rd Symposium, Leicester, United Kingdom, August 2006.

“Making Music in a New Technological Landscape.”  International Committee for the History of Technology 31st Symposium, Bochum, Germany, August 2004.

“’Polka Capital’? ‘Home of Rock ‘n’ Roll’? ‘Little Nashville’? A Cultural and Ethnic History of Recording in Cleveland.” Association for Recorded Sound Collections – Society for American Music Joint Conference, Cleveland, Ohio, March 2004.

“Creativity in the Trading Zone: Sound Recording as Collaboration.” International Committee for the History of Technology 29th Symposium, Granada, Spain, June 2002.

“Capturing the Moment: Home Recording from Historical Documentation to Self-Expression.” American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Detroit, Michigan, October 2000.

“Recording Engineers and the Art of Controlling Sound.” Society for the History of Technology Annual Meeting, Munich, Germany, August 2000.

“Chasing Sound: The Culture and Technology of Recording Studios, 1945-1974.” International Committee for the History of Technology 26th Symposium, Belfort, France, August 1999.

“Electric Guitars, Recording Studios, and the Search for the Sound.” Society for the History of Technology Annual Meeting, Pasadena, California, October 1997.

Invited Presentations

“Spatial Effects: Sound, Space, and Technology in Twentieth Century Popular Music.” Conference: Kompositionenen für Hörbaren Raum: die frühe elektronische Musik und ihre Kontexte, Technischen Universität Berlin, July 9-11, 2014.

“Bill Savory, the Innovator, with Susan Schmidt-Horning.” Interview with Loren Schoenberg, The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, December 3, 2013.

“Rise of the Independents and the Origins of Creativity in Sound Recording.” University of New Haven Honors Program, November 28, 2012.

“From ‘Beach Party’ to ‘Woodstock’: The Pop Cultural Revolution of Sixties America.” Panel presentation with Tom Lisanti and Joan DelFatorre, The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building,  November 30, 2011.

“Chasing Sound: Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording in America.” Sonic Impressions Lecture Series, Green College, University of British Columbia, October 28, 2010.

“Who Was Bill Savory?” Saturday Panel Discussion, The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, September 25, 2010.

“What a Difference Some Space Makes: Canonizing the Sound of Recording Studios.” Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory, and Cultural Practices, International Workshop, Faculty of Arts and Culture, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, November 2007.

“Engineers and Music: A History of American Recording Technologies.” Engineers Week, Case Engineers Council and the Case School of Engineering, Cleveland, February 2006.

“‘Ring Around the Rosie’ to ‘Rock Around the Clock’: Growing Up With the 45 in the ‘50s.” Guest Lecture, Denison University, November 2003.

“Engineering the Performance: Recording Engineers, Tacit Knowledge and the Art of Controlling Sound.” Sound Matters—New Technology in Music, International Workshop, Faculty of Arts and Culture, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, November 2002.

“Technological Enthusiasm in the Recording Studio.” Opening symposium: Electrified, Amplified and Deified: The Electric Guitar, Its Makers and Its Players, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 1996.

Publications

Book:

Chasing Sound: Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording From Edison to the LP (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

Book Chapters and Articles:

“Creativity in the Trading Zone: Sound Recording as Collaboration.”  In Creativity: Technology and the Arts, ed. Hans-Joachim Braun (Peter Lang, forthcoming 2015).

“Swinging the Symposium: ICOHTEC’s Jazz Evenings and Other Musical Events,” Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology 20(1) (2014): 131-145.

“The Sounds of Space: Studio as Instrument in the Era of High Fidelity.” In The Art of Record Production: An Introductory Reader for a New Academic Field, eds. Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas (UK: Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series, 2012).

“The Architects of Rock and Roll: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland.” Technology and Culture 52 (July 2011): 598-605.

(with co-author James C. Williams) “Recent Symposia of the International Committee for the History of Technology, 2002-2004.” Technology and Culture 46 (July 2005): 594-603.

“Engineering the Performance: Recording Engineers, Tacit Knowledge and the Art of Controlling Sound.” Social Studies of Science 34/5 (December 2004): 703-731.

“Recording: The Search for the Sound.” In The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon, ed. André Millard (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 105-122.

“From Polka to Punk: Growth of an Independent Recording Studio, 1934-1977.” InMusic and Technology in the Twentieth Century, ed. Hans-Joachim Braun (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 136-147.

“Chasing Sound: The Culture and Technology of Recording Studios in Postwar America.” Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology 6 (2000): 100-118.

“Twenty-Third Symposium of the International Committee for the History of Technology, Budapest, Hungary, August 7-11, 1996.” Technology and Culture 38 (April 1997): 488-492.

“The Power of Image: Promotional Literature and Its Changing Role in the Settlement of Early Carolina.” North Carolina Historical Review 70 (1993): 365-400.

Book reviews for Technology and CultureICONEnterprise and SocietyChoice

Undergraduate

The Emergence of Global Society Since 1500
Global Studies: Passport to Rome
World War II and Postwar United States History
Technology and Science in Twentieth-Century America
Senior Seminar
U.S. Urban History

Graduate

Seminar: World History of Technology and Science
American History: The 1960s
Technological Transformation of the United States, 19th-20th Centuries
The Information Revolution and the Formation of a Global Society
History of Material Culture