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Phone Booth (Object Lessons)


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Table of Contents

1. Disconnected 2. Hermit's Hut 3. Our Speed 4. The Phantom Phone Booth 5. Say Anything 6. Fortress of Solitude 7. Significant Portals 8. A Fine and Private Place 9. Glass Case of Emotion 10. The God Booth 11. Only Connect Acknowledgements Notes Index

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An exploration of how an ostensibly simple structure embodies complex notions of privacy, freedom, power, communication, and sanctuary.

About the Author

Ariana Kelly is a freelance writer and educator. She teaches English literature and comparative religion at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, California, USA, and has written for, among other publications, The L.A. Review of Books and Salon.


An entertaining and enlightening exploration of the cultural history of the phone booth and a lament for the loss of these spaces. * WPR: BETA *
In this delightful set of mini-essays, Ariana Kelly has created a paen, rather than an elegy, in celebration of the many dimensions of the vanishing phone booth. Her text gleans images and sensations from our collective memory of the once (if briefly) ubiquitous structure. Site of superhero transformations, crimes, communications, quick changes, and other coins of the social realm, the phone booth and the kiosk served as small theaters of intimate activity in full view of the public eye, a curious combination of enclosed and exposed space. She shifts scale from the minutiae of physical observation-hanging wires and scratched glass-to the larger cultural issues of communication and longing, mixing personal experience with historical, literary, and film references throughout. * Johanna Drucker, Professor of Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, USA *
Fascinated and attuned, I was cabled into Phone Booth. Ariana Kelly replenishes the work on speculative telephony in an altogether compelling way. * Avital Ronell, University Professor in the Humanities, New York University, USA, and author of The Telephone Book *
[Phone Booth] inclines us towards nostalgia, toward urgent questions of what remains when objects disappear, of re-use, and shelter. If phone booths today have receded into the interstices of our built worlds... then that freeing of the object from its use enables Arianna Kelly to tell a different story, a story about what these telephonic leftovers might become, what they now are and what they anchor. -- Julian Yates * Los Angeles Review of Books *

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