Fragments on/of Voice

Nowell-Smith, David ORCID: (2020) Fragments on/of Voice. In: Sound and Literature. Cambridge University Press, pp. 56-73. ISBN 9781108855532

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Literature operates with voice, and voices the voices of the author/poet, of the characters (and the poem’s ‘speaker’), and of the reciter and reader. But literature also operates an extensive imaginary of voice. Voice is the ‘stuff’ of literature in two senses: its material support and an abiding theme. And criticism itself involves so many ‘voicings’ of literary texts, as we test out the texts’ possibilities, their reverberations, their potential afterlives. This chapter explores both the physiology and imaginary of voice across millennia, shaped by phenomena as various as the social function of poetry in predominantly, or exclusively, oral cultures, the class and race politics of accent, the technologies of sound recording, reproduction, transmission and processing. It approaches this history through a series of interconnecting fragments: Voice as origin to, and excess over, speech; the voices of the muses and of song, voices that come from within and without, voices that ‘possess’ us; prosthetics of voice, written or machinic; mnemonics of voice, in which voice is not just memorable but creates memory. In both its physiology and its imaginary, voice comes across as extravagant – as extravagance, even.

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Modern and Contemporary Writing Research Group
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2017 05:06
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2023 15:30
DOI: 10.1017/9781108855532.003


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