This article is an analysis of the script of an Argentine radio serial, Corazón sediento (Thirsty Heart), that aired on Buenos Aires' Radio Splendid and its network of stations on weekday evenings in June 1954. The drama's author, Nené Cascallar (1914–82), a favorite radio librettist during the first Peronist era (1946–55), was best known for penning erotically charged melodramas aimed at mostly female audiences. In this drama, Cascallar makes particular use of sound and voice as dramatic devices and as a means to produce dramas that articulate women's desires—sexual desire, desire for freedom from patriarchal control, et cetera—while avoiding direct confrontation with these same structures. The main character's piano serves as a proxy through which she “screams” her unspoken frustrations and desires into the patriarchal soundscape of a fictitious and traditional Italian town. Thirsty Heart exemplifies golden-age radio's capacity to disrupt the gendered soundscape by allowing female voices—in their discursive, metaphorical, and sonic dimensions—to make themselves heard in new ways in the public arena. Among other things, this article asks us to consider the female voice in all its contradictory dimensions as a sonic metaphor for modernity itself. Finally, the script provides an opportunity to discuss how scholars might read this kind of historical document for issues of gender and sound.
Nené Cascallar's Thirsty Heart: Gender, Voice, and Desire in a 1950s Argentine Radio Serial
Christine Ehrick is associate professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she teaches courses in Latin American history and history of radio. Her second book, Radio and the Gendered Soundscape: Women and Broadcasting in Argentina and Uruguay, 1930–1950, was published in July 2015 by Cambridge University Press. She is coeditor (with Alejandra Bronfman) of the “Listening for History” research forum, which will appear in the May 2016 issue of the Hispanic American Historical Review. Her current work includes research into gender, voice, and children's radio in the United States and Latin America. Thanks to the Botto family for sharing this and other Cascallar scripts, and to Michele Hilmes and Kate Lacey for their comments and encouragement.
Christine Ehrick; Nené Cascallar's Thirsty Heart: Gender, Voice, and Desire in a 1950s Argentine Radio Serial. Feminist Media Histories 1 October 2015; 1 (4): 31–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2015.1.4.31
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