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Voices of Terror and Horror: Towards an Acoustics of Modern Gothic

Foley M (2015) Voices of Terror and Horror: Towards an Acoustics of Modern Gothic. In: Sacido-Romero J, Mieszkowski S (ed.). Sound Effects: The Object Voice in Fiction. DQR Studies In Literature, 59, Leiden, Netherlands: Brill-Rodopi, pp. 215-242.

In reading several incarnations of the voice as it is staged in modern Gothic literature, this chapter contributes to a recent turn in scholarship that seeks to elucidate the a-tonal, guttural or haunting soundscapes of the Gothic mode. There are myriad hauntings, possessions, seductions and silences that proliferate in any acoustics of the Gothic. Indeed, the invocation of shock in much of the modern Gothic still relies upon the permanence of the voice as a radically disturbing object. A number of modern texts - notably William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist(1971), Katherine Dunn's Geek Love(1989), Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger(2009), and Alice Thompson's Pharos(2002) - are here analysed to highlight the radical and suspenseful manifestations of the voice in modern terror and horror fiction. Drawing from the psychoanalytical writings of Slavoj Žižek and Mladen Dolar in particular, I argue that the voice has several registers in the Gothic, but that its incarnations in contemporary horror and neo-Gothic literatures of terror may be distinguished. While the voice's alterity is not easily diffused by any of the Gothic's more sanitizing elements, it appears in its most excessive guise in horror literature with a more restrained and suspenseful use evident in neo-Gothic literatures of terror.

Gothic; contemporary literature; theory; Mladen Dolar; the voice

EditorSacido-Romero J, Mieszkowski S
AuthorsFoley Matt
Title of seriesDQR Studies In Literature
Number in series59
Publication date08/2015
Place of publicationLeiden, Netherlands
ISSN of series 0921-2507
ISBN 9789004304383
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