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Beth Watt

Beth Watt

Doctoral Student in Literature.



Professor James Procter and Dr Robbie McLaughlan

Research project

Sounding Modernity: Sonic Technology, Literature, and Empire 1920-1970

My doctoral project considers in turn over three chapters the use of the telephone, gramophone and radio in literature throughout the fifty-year period 1920 – 1970, in order to consider the role sound and sonic technology played in the dismantling of global empires throughout the twentieth century. By studying late-colonial and Black Atlantic authors from Katherine Mansfield to Ralph Ellison, I consider the ways in which these technologies facilitate connectivity across geopolitical boundaries, and subvert the prevailing partitionist narratives of centre/periphery upon which empires are predicated.  By considering these technologies as the extenders of a kind of mechanical telepathy, my project gives unique foregrounding to invisible – but audible – global communities in the literature of the twentieth century.

Research interests

  • postcolonial Studies
  • sound Theory
  • empire(s)
  • modernity
  • sonic Technology
  • imperial Communication
  • the radio, telephone, gramophone and phonography
  • 21st Century Literature
  • the Black Atlantic
  • mechanical Reproduction

Academic background

  • BA (Hons) First Class, Newcastle University, 2015
  • MA (Hons) Distinction, Newcastle University, 2016