Sounding modernism

Frederick Solinger
2016
This dissertation registers the attempts of modern novelists to make the printed word resound, to make the delight and din of the age leap off the page. Beginning with the historical moment in which the voice first took on a life of its own outside the body, Sounding Modernism is a record of the formal struggles experienced by authors who wished to write the voice, attempts that often led to their finding their own narrative voices. The twentieth century brought unprecedented breakthroughs in
more » ... e recording and circulation of sound. Yet, within modernist studies, the auditory is often overlooked in favor of the visual, a critical absence this project seeks to correct. Sounding Modernism argues that early twentieth century breakthroughs in sound technology were crucial to the development of modernist fiction. Sound technologies not only captured and disseminated the spoken voice but also transformed and expanded the writer's voice. This is apparent in the way a multiplicity of voices comes to dislodge an authoritative narrative perspective, in the depictions of previously unrepresented experiences, and in the attention paid to silence and inarticulate sound. Although a device like the phonograph originally gave primacy to the voice, the recordings it produced captured a wide array of sounds, whether those generated by the recording process itself or acoustics and ambience. A similar dynamic can be tracked in the texts that I study in this project, as authorial interest in the recorded voice ultimately leads to an assimilation into the novel's form of the greater soundscape. Novels unsettled by the existence of the transmissible voice and the workings of these new machines gave way to those that sought to utilize the metaphors engendered by the new media and to represent vocality textually. At the same time, novels that incorporated the conventions of older literary genres like verse and drama to call attention to the rhythm, pulse, and vibration generated by physical space led to meditations on the psychologica [...]
doi:10.7282/t35d8v5d fatcat:4j6i5ygzfbdf7f23hpmpp6zzya