Call for Papers

Listening to Literature: A One Day Symposium on Soundscapes
University of Exeter, 28th July 2017

This one day symposium will provide opportunities to approach sound in fiction from interdisciplinary perspectives. The representation of sounds, music, voices, utterances, mechanical noises, ghostly whisperings, audio and communication technologies, waves, roars, screams, and conversations runs rampant through literary history. The difficulty of encapsulating the auditory into the written form, and the way that literary rhetoric recurrently prioritises images of the visual over and above other sensory language (overlook, oversight) has long been the topic of literary discussion. This symposium will provide an opportunity to discuss these issues and their relationship to developing technologies, research, and theories in listening and hearing, as well as sound, communication, and recording technologies, and how literature responds to the noises of its environment. Furthermore, it looks at historical representations of sound, music in literature, music as literature, and the translation of literature into sound in the form of podcasts, audiobooks, and radio plays. How do we hear literature, and how do we write about hearing? How is music represented in literature, or literature represented in music? This one day symposium aims to bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines to discuss cultural perceptions of literary soundscapes, the difficulty of capturing sound in text, and the way text is expressed in sound. Topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Sound in literature, from voices to music to atmospheric sound
  • Hearing in literature and literature of hearing
  • Communication and audio technologies in literature
  • Sound in genre fiction – horrific and gothic sounds, sound and romance, sound and science fiction, etc.
  • Soundscape and landscape
  • Music, musicology, notation
  • Audiobooks
  • Podcasts
  • Radio, broadcasting, and radio plays
  • Sound in script, screenplay, and transcription
  • Sound effects
  • Sound and sensory experience
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Visualising sound
  • Medical literature on hearing and sound
  • Sound and science
  • Issues surrounding recording and broadcasting sound
  • Voice in text
  • Sound and adaptation; sound tracks and sound design; sound and film; film as text
  • Silence
  • The history of music; the history of voice; theories of voice; theories of music
  • Animal sounds
  • Mechanical sounds

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to by the 25th June 2017