Gothic Utterance

Voice, Speech and Death in the American Gothic

Author(s) Jimmy Packham

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Gothic Literary Studies

  • June 2021 · 256 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781786837547
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786837554
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786837561

About The Book

The Gothic has always been interested in strange utterances and unsettling voices – from half-heard ghostly murmurings and the admonitions of the dead, to the terrible cries of the monstrous nonhuman. Gothic Utterance is the first book-length study of the role played by such voices in the Gothic tradition, exploring their prominence and importance in the American literature produced between the Revolutionary War and the close of the nineteenth century. The book argues that the American Gothic foregrounds the overpowering affect and distressing significations of the voices of the dead, dying, abjected, marginalised or nonhuman, in order to undertake a sustained interrogation of what it means to be and speak as an American in this period. The American Gothic imagines new forms of relation between speaking subjects, positing more inclusive and expansive kinds of community, while also emphasising the ethical demands attending our encounters with Gothic voices. The Gothic suggests that how we choose to hear and respond to these voices says much about our relationship with the world around us, its inhabitants – dead or otherwise – and the limits of our own subjectivity and empathy.


‘Articulately and elegantly written, the force of this groundbreaking book goes in two directions. It reflects powerfully on the role of utterances, voices, sounds of all kinds in the Gothic; and it develops a strong argument about the centrality of vocal utterance to the development and establishment of American cultural self-conception.’
-Professor David Punter, University of Bristol

‘With its fascinating focus on ventriloquism and unintelligible speech, animal noises, and other types of sound, Jimmy Packham’s Gothic Utterance issues a clarion call to attend to the neglected roles of voice and sound in American Gothic and the Gothic more broadly. Researchers into the Gothic will want to listen carefully to what it has to say!’
-Professor Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Central Michigan University

'Gothic Utterance furthers the niche area of Gothic literary studies concerning the Gothic voice and, furthermore, is a critical addition to bringing Gothic literature into wider literary discourse. I would recommend this book as a vital critique to any academic involved with the Gothic, and anyone interested in the wider structural framework of the Gothic novel.'
- Lauren (@gothicbookworm), The Anatomy Shelf


Introduction: American Biloquism
Part I: Gothic Utterance and Selfhood
1.Deadly Locution and Delphic Shrieks: Haunted Significance and the Self
2.Cries and Whispers: Spectral Voice, Community and Gothic Consciousness
Part II: Voices, Soundscapes, Histories
3.Howls and Echoes: Frontier Gothic and the Voice of the Wilderness
4. (Dis)embodied Utterance and the Peripatetic Voice: Hearing the Haunted Plantation
5.Squawking Soldiers and the Babbling Corpse: War-torn Words and Civil War Gothic
Conclusion: Quoth the Gothic

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Jimmy Packham

Jimmy Packham is Lecturer in North American Literature at the University of Birmingham.

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