School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Beth Watt

Beth Watt

PhD English Literature


Supervisors: 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, the telephone, the gramophone & phonography, twentieth-century literature, the Black Atlantic, mechanical reproduction.

Academic Background

BA (Hons) First Class, Newcastle University, 2015

MA (Hons) Distinction, Newcastle University, 2016


Beth Watt