The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Sound Studies

Edited by Helen Groth, Julian Murphet

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This field-defining collection maps key intersections between sound studies and literary studies
  • Provides a unique focus on literary applications of sound studies research
  • Features a wide range of international, emergent and established scholars
  • Interdisciplinary work throughout
  • Considers a broad range of historical periods
  • Features entirely new commissioned work; no republished material available elsewhere is included

Collections on sound studies have seldom explored the vexed relationship between literature – a medium largely defined by its silence – and the dynamics and technologies of sound. This Companion is designed to help sound studies scholars grapple with the auditory capacities of text and encourage literary scholars to take full cognisance of the rich soundscapes mapped, or created, by texts read quietly. The essays assembled here consider a broad range of sound studies topics, including music in writing; the inscription of listening; worlding through sound; military and industrial noise; the gender of sound; racialised soundscapes; theatrical sounds; literature and sound media; and sonic epistemology. Helen Groth and Julian Murphet present a comprehensive set of new research on the relationship between sound and writing over time from a range of eminent, established and emerging sound studies scholars.

List of Figures


Helen Groth and Julian Murphet

Part I: Literature, Listening, Sounding

1. The Sound a Sentence Makes: On Poetry, Judgement, and Hearing

Astrid Lorange

2. The Limits of Listening: Riotous Women, Imperial Structures, and Sonic Archives

Helen Groth

3. PIANO/Forte: Writing Audible Space, Jane Austen, Dorothy Richardson, and Others

David Toop

4. Oralities, Literacies, and the Xenophobic Fallacy

Richard Cullen Rath

Part II: Literature, Music, Performance

5. Notes to Literature: Scores as Musical Reproduction in the Literary Text

Tamlyn Avery

6. Sound Agonistes: Music and the Economy of Sacrifice in Sound Studies

Miranda Stanyon

7. Shakespeare’s Vibrant Theatres

Bruce R. Smith

8. ‘Imaginative and musical mixtures of sounds’: Rap, Patter, and Hyper Diction in Musical Theatre

Tamsen O. Wolff

Part III: Literature, Voice, Acousmatics

9. ‘Let it resound’: ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ as Sonic Witness

Noelle Morrissette

10. Sound Media, Race, and Voice

Sam Halliday

11. The Acousmatics of Prison Writing

Julian Murphet

12. Aural Anxiety and Rurality in Women’s Second World War Writing

Imogen Free

Part IV: Literature, Media, Coded Sound

13. Sound Technology and US Fiction in the Postwar Era: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Cross-Racial Listening

K. C. Harrison

14. Coded Sound: Reading in the Age of Networked Media

Justin St. Clair

15. Media Affordances of Literary Audio: Interrelations of Format and Form

Jason Camlot

16. OH-EE-OH-EE-OH-EE-AW-EE-AW!: Sound Descriptors in the Books of Tarzan as Facilitators of Presence

Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard

Part V: Literature, War, Industry

17. An Auditory History of Early Modernity: Listening to Enlightenment and Industry in Britain, 1700–1900

Peter Denney

18. ‘This is/not was’: The Violence of Circulation and the Sonics of Submerged Language

Andrew Brooks

19. Shriek and Hum: Industrial Noise and Productivity

David Ellison

20. A Critical Poetics of Warfare

Mark Byron

21. The Great War: Sonic Fragments in Literature and Sound Studies

Michael Bull

Part VI: Literature, Sonic Epistemology, Language

22. Sonic Epistemologies

Holger Schulze

23. The Cultural Poetics of a Buoyancy Sound from Amazonian Ecuador

Janis Nuckolls

24. Havoc Ornithologies

Jody Berland

Notes on Contributors


This expertly organised volume, composed of foundational and up-and-coming voices, asserts the rightful place of writing and language in the study of sound. While it’s long been a truism that the sonic turn is against the linguistic, this volume begins from a deconstructive premise to encounter the literary anew in the most vital debates in sound studies today.

Julie Beth Napolin, The New School
These chapters demonstrate that, while this companion would be of most interest to literary scholars working across the senses, its generous approach to cross-disciplinarity makes it a valuable read for those researching across cultural studies, film, linguistics, media, musicology, and performance.
Cameron MacDonald, Sound Studies: An interdisciplinary journal
Helen Groth is Professor of English in the School of Arts and Media, University of New South Wales. She is the author of Victorian Photography and Literary Nostalgia (Oxford University Press, 2004), Moving Images. Nineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices (Edinburgh University Press, 2013), and co-author of Dreams and Modernity. A Cultural History (Routledge, 2013). She is the co-editor of a number of books and special journal issues, most recently Sounding Modernism: Rhythm and Sonic Mediation in Modern Literature and Film (Edinburgh University Press, 2017) and Writing the Global Riot (Oxford University Press, 2023).

Julian Murphet is Jury Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Adelaide. He is the author, previously, of Literature and Race in Los Angeles (Cambridge University Press, 2001), Multimedia Modernism (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Faulkner’s Media Romance (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Todd Solondz (Northern Illinois University Press, 2019), and of the forthcoming Modern Character: 1888–1905 (Oxford University Press, 2023) and Twentieth-Century Prison Writing: A Literary Guide (Edinburgh University Press, 2023).

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