Why are vinyl records making a comeback? How is their resurgence connected to the political economy of music? Vinyl Theory responds to these and other questions by exploring the intersection of vinyl records with critical theory. In the process, it asks how the political economy of music might be connected with the philosophy of the record. The young critical theorist and composer Theodor Adorno’s work on the philosophy of the record and the political economy of music of the contemporary French public intellectual, Jacques Attali, are brought together with the work of other theorists in order to understand the fall and resurrection of vinyl records. The major argument of Vinyl Theory is that the very existence of vinyl records may be central to understanding the resiliency of neoliberalism. This argument is made by examining the work of Adorno, Attali, Friedrich Nietzsche, and others on music through the lens of Michel Foucault’s biopolitics.
Jeffrey R. Di Leo is Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, and Professor of English and Philosophy at the University of Houston-Victoria. He is also Executive Director of the Society for Critical Exchange. He is editor and publisher of the American Book Review, and founder and editor of the journal Symploke, which was awarded the Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement (2000) and a Best Special Issue Award (2012) by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ). He has edited and authored over twenty books. His recent titles include: What's Wrong with Antitheory? (Bloomsbury, 2019), The End of American Literature: Essays from the Late Age of Print (Texas Review Press, 2019), Bloomsbury Handbook of Literary and Cultural Theory (Bloomsbury, 2018), The Debt Age (Routledge, 2018; with Peter Hitchcock and Sophia McClennen), Experimental Literature: A Collection of Statements (JEF Books, 2018; with Warren Motte), Higher Education under Late Capitalism: Identity, Conduct, and the Neoliberal Condition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and American Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury, 2017).
"The disarming innocence of Di Leo's memoir-esque reflections allow readers to feel the material conditions under which music is recorded, stored, distributed, and played. . . The book is a tightly syncopated composition that develops an answer to the puzzle of why vinyl is making a commercial come-back."- The Comparatist, Volume 47, October 2023