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Harlem Reverberations: Sonic Landscapes and the Aesthetics of Sound in African-American Literature, 1910-1940

Huxley, Hannah (2018) Harlem Reverberations: Sonic Landscapes and the Aesthetics of Sound in African-American Literature, 1910-1940. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.72646) (KAR id:72646)

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This study explores the cultural and aesthetic significance of sound and silence in the literature of Harlem Renaissance authors, including; Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, Rudolph Fisher, and Zora Neale Hurston. It also takes into account literary contributions by Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. In a recent study on the soundscape of modernity, musicologist Emily Thompson identifies technological changes, a surge in migration, the rising popularity of jazz, and changes in racial geography as factors that prompted a crescendo of the New York soundscape. In particular she suggests that African Americans migrating from the rural South to Northern cities experienced an aural transformation far more dramatic than that of any other group in American society, during the early part of the twentieth century. While the critical connection has been made between the influence of jazz and the literature produced during the Harlem Renaissance, this thesis explores the significance of Harlem's soundscape, and representations of sound in the novel through a soundless medium. Through the fictional writings of McKay, Larsen, Fisher and Hurston, focus is given here to the representation and reproductions of sound, cultures of sonic expression, and what it meant for Harlem to be heard above the "roar" of New York, particularly amidst a public city-wide campaign for the abatement of noise.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Collins, Michael
Thesis advisor: Stirrup, David
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.72646
Uncontrolled keywords: American literature, African-American literature, sound, soundscapes, sonic, landscapes, environment, Harlem, Harlem Renaissance, New York, Twentieth Century
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2022 08:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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