We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Listen to This: Sound Film and the Late Modernist Novel in Britain, 1929-1949

EHRENFRIED, LARA (2019) Listen to This: Sound Film and the Late Modernist Novel in Britain, 1929-1949. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 09 January 2025.


The introduction of synchronised sound to the British film industry presents a watershed moment in the cultural history of Britain by marking a further step in the development of an increasingly audio-visual entertainment experience in the twentieth century. In parallel, the literary marketplace of the 1930s and 1940s underwent significant change with a generation of late modernist writers gaining momentum on the literary scene. Broadly speaking, these writers are neither comfortably aligned with the first generation modernists of the early twentieth century, nor with conventional “Auden Generation” accounts of the 1930s. This thesis connects these two developments and brings them into dialogue.

Using the arrival of the first feature-length British talking film, Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929), as a starting point for mapping a newly emerging media context, this thesis analyses the relationship between film and the late modernist novel in 1930s and 1940s Britain through a methodological commitment to reading for sound. This analytic strategy maintains the individual specificity of film and the novel as two distinct media forms: it does not read fiction as if it were a film. Instead, this work builds on sound studies, film studies, and literary studies to develop a new approach for the comparative study of media. I argue that a reading for sound discloses how synchronised sound film and the late modernist novel develop in parallel throughout the 1930s and 1940s and that these two media share a number of concerns regarding their future, politics, aesthetics, and their status in the media system.

Discussing case studies of musical revue, film noir, documentary, and Ministry of Information-sponsored war propaganda alongside novels by Patrick Hamilton, Elizabeth Bowen, George Orwell, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Jean Rhys, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and Walter Greenwood, this thesis demonstrates how studying sound productively reframes and extends our understanding of late modernist fiction and of the relationship between sound film and the novel in the twentieth century.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Synchronised Sound Film, Late Modernism, Cinema, British Literature, 1930s, 1940s, Soundscapes
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Jan 2020 13:15

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter