1st Edition

Modern Fiction, Disability, and the Hearing Sciences

Edited By Edward Allen Copyright 2025
    244 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The relationship between critical disability studies and the hearing sciences is a dynamic one, and it’s changing still, both as clinicians come to terms with the evolving health of deaf and hearing communities and as the ‘social’ and ‘medical’ understandings of disability continue to gain traction among different groups. What might a ‘cultural’ approach to these overlapping areas of study involve? And what could narrative prose in particular have to tell us that other sources haven’t sensed?

    At a time when visual media otherwise seem to have captured the imagination, Modern Fiction, Disability, and the Hearing Sciences makes the case for a wide range of literature. In doing so – through serials, short stories, circadian fiction, narrative history, morality tales, whodunits, Bildungsromane, life-writing, the Great American Novel – the book reveals the diverse ways in which writers have plotted and voiced experiences of hearing, from the nineteenth century to the present day.

    List of Contributors




    Introduction: Placing Quietness

    Edward Allen


    1. Stethoscape: Auscultation in British Fiction

    Justin Tackett


    2. ‘Redemption from probable destruction’: Deafness, Isolation, and Identity in the

    Autobiography of Harriet Martineau

    Clare Walker Gore


    3. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and the Biopolitics of Interwar Noise Abatement

    Anna Snaith


                Earpiece 1: ‘Feel dumb. Don’t cry’: Inside a Soundproof Gray Room

    Jaipreet Virdi


    4. Automatic Voices: Modernism, Telephony, and Delusion

    Andrew Gaedtke


    5. ‘The Zoom of a Hornet’: Virginia Woolf, Aural Biopolitics, and the Phenomenology of

    an Air Raid

    Beryl Pong


    6. Sleuthing Deafness in Detective Fiction

    Edward Allen


                Earpiece 2: Learning to be Hearing

    Ben Holmes


    7. The Jabber of Money: Tinnitus as Metaphor and Martin Amis’s Critique of Neoliberalism

    A. Elisabeth Reichel


    8. Sound Minds: Schizophonia and Schizophrenia in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest

    William Allen


    9. Teju Cole’s ‘art of listening’

    Rachel Farebrother


    Earpiece 3: ‘Really a part of me’: Dementia Conversations

    Catherine Charlwood




    Edward Allen is a Lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Christ’s College.