Biodiversity’s Bandwidth

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


This chapter examines the literary representation of wild animal sounds in an age of extinction, pinpointing acoustic contact zones involving undomesticated species like reindeer, wolves, Tasmanian tigers, wallabies, and crickets. Mentioning large-scale listening projects alongside technological devices like earphones and radio collars, the chapter scrutinizes a historical novel about a female artist who doubles as a bioacoustics researcher by Heidi Sopinka, a psychological adventure novel about a professional hunter and an animal believed to be extinct by Julia Leigh, and an urban novel about a female photographer who is suffering from a noise neurosis by Marie Kessels. Confronting these novels with discourses about anxious listening, endangered wildlife, and therapeutic literature in ecohistorical fashion, I explain how these multispecies narratives reflect on a variety of animal sounds as well as on their cultural connotations of anxiety and serenity. The chapter also expounds how these novels privilege certain species and sounds over others, revealing the broad but limited bandwidth of the novelistic imagination.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

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

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