The Oral Aural Walter Ong

Abigail Lambke

When I was introduced to the Walter J. Ong, S.J. Archival Collection at Saint Louis University in 2008, I was a first-year doctoral student who knew little of Ong’s scholarship. In the year I spent working in the collection, I became familiar with the stages of his scholarship and the turns of his life. But while I looked through all of his papers, read his correspondence, and glanced at his childhood photos, it was not until I listened to his recorded voice that I came to understand Ong as a cohesive human being. Listening allowed me to hear his humor, his warmth, and his humanity in a way that was not present on a printed page. This audio essay presents excerpts from two of Ong’s recorded lectures, offering a perspective into Ong, his scholarship, and the affordances of digital sound that can only be heard through listening.

To view a written transcript, click here.

Abigail Lambke is a doctoral candidate in English at Saint Louis University studying digital sound and rhetoric. She has been entranced by the red record button since her first tape player, which wouldn't let you hit "record" without also hitting "play." You can find her on Twitter @abileigh, tweeting about sound, rhetoric, and moments of play.


Spoken Sources

Ong, Walter J. “The End of the Age of Literacy.” 1960. Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections. Mp3.

---. “Future of Literacy.” 1970. Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections. Mp3.

Strate, Lance. “The Word (A Pecha Kucha on the Walter Ong Centenary).” 14 Nov 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Background Music (In Order of Use)

MacLeod, Kevin. “Peace of Mind.” Scoring: Misc.2012. Web. 1 Jan. 2013.

Podington Bear. “Happiness Is.” Egress Nov. 2011. Web. Mp3. 22 Mar. 2013.

Podington Bear. “Sneaker Chase.” Egress 28 Nov. 2011. Web. Mp3. 22 Mar. 2013.

Balogh, Jared C. “Caught In a Realm” Eclectic Music for Mind and Bodhi In Session. 9 Dec. 2012 Web. Mp3.Mar. 2013.

Mellia, SJ. “Reverse Selector.” Glitch Fit EP. Web. Mp3. 7 Dec. 2012.

Podington Bear. “Wavy Glass.” Meet Podington Bear. 9 April 2010. Web. Mp3. 22 Mar. 2013.


Ong, Walter. Poster from "The End of the Age of Literacy" at Fordham University. 6 April 1967. Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection (DOC MSS 641., Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collection, St. Louis University. 

Fair Use Statement

A. The purpose and character of your use:
The copyright work quoted and referenced in this scholarly project is intended to raise questions, comment on past statements, and make connections. Material has been included in an effort to advance understanding of the subject matter with no commercial intention. The purpose is for criticism, comment, and scholarship, all of which are entirely not for profit and educational.

B. The nature of your copyrighted work:
The copyrighted work includes sound from lectures, blogs, film, and music. Proper citations can be found in the accompanying Works Cited. Attribution provided within the piece.

C. The amount and substantiality of the portion taken:
None of the spoken works have been reproduced in their entirety. Portions used include excerpts from recorded lectures hosted by an academic archive, an excerpt from a video published on a blog, and one second from a film. The most substantial excerpts are from the Walter J. Ong Collection at Saint Louis University; permission has been granted for this use.

The musical works have been reproduced in longer form. They were each licensed under Fair Use: one under Creative Commons and five under an Attribution-NonCommerical ShareAlike License. All are attributed in the Works Cited.

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