The Novel and the Multispecies Soundscape

  • Ben De Bruyn

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Ben De Bruyn
    Pages 47-91
  3. Ben De Bruyn
    Pages 93-132
  4. Ben De Bruyn
    Pages 133-182
  5. Ben De Bruyn
    Pages 183-218
  6. Ben De Bruyn
    Pages 219-260
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 291-300

About this book


“This book is an ambitious and original piece of literary criticism that recounts

the presence of multispecies soundscapes in twenty-first-century fiction and

their functions as human responses to/engagement with nonhuman sound. De

Bruyn pulls the frameworks of contemporary literature, animal studies and

sound studies together to tell us that there are many ways to listen to the natural

world, and that contemporary literature should not be underestimated for the

opportunities it offers to do so.”

— Lucile Desblache, Professor of Translation and Transcultural Studies,

University of Roehampton, UK

The contemporary novel is not as silent as we tend to believe, nor does it only

attend to human plots and characters. As this book shows, writers in a range of

subgenres have devoted considerable attention to the voices of nonhuman

animals, and to the histories and technologies of listening that shape twenty-

first-century cultures and environments. In doing so, their multispecies novels

illuminate the cultural meanings we attach to creatures like dogs, frogs, whales,

chimpanzees, and Tasmanian tigers – not to mention various bird species and

even plants. At the same time, these stories explore the attitudes of distinct

communities of human listeners, ranging from vets and musicians to chimp

caretakers and sonar technicians. In highlighting animal sounds and their cultural

meanings, these novels by authors including Amitav Ghosh, Julia Leigh, Richard

Powers, Karen Joy Fowler, Cormac McCarthy, and Han Kang also enrich pressing

debates about species extinction, sound pollution, nonhuman communication,

and human-animal relations. As we are violently reshaping the planet, they invite

us to reimagine our own humanity and animality – and to rethink how we tell

stories about multispecies contact zones and their complex soundscapes.

Ben De Bruyn teaches English Literature at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve,

Belgium. He is the co-editor of Literature Now (2016) and the author of several

articles on contemporary fi ction and the environmental humanities in journals

like Studies in the Novel and Textual Practice.


Extinction Zoo Music Ecology Environment Cormac McCarthy Song Animal Studies Sound Studies Contemporary Literature Media Posthumanism Ecology

Authors and affiliations

  • Ben De Bruyn
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Civilisations, Arts, and Letters (INCAL)UCLouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

Bibliographic information