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Gothic Music

The Sounds of the Uncanny

Gothic Music traces the sound of the Gothic from the eerie echoing footsteps that haunt gothic novels to the dark soundscapes that give contemporary goth nightclubs their dark atmosphere. This broad perspective enables Isabella van Elferen to widen the scope of gothic music—which includes bands such as Christian Death, Bauhaus, The Damned, and The Sisters of Mercy—from its roots in the contemporary goth subculture to manifestations in mainstream literature, film, television, and video games, while also offering a musical and theoretical definition of gothic music that is lacking in current scholarship. Bringing together versions of the Gothic in all media, van Elferen connects those to the subculture—a historical and theoretical connection that has not been made previously in gothicist or goth scholarship. Whether giving voice to the spectral beings of early cinema, announcing virtual terrors in video games, or intensifying goth’s nocturnal rituals, gothic music truly represents the sounds of the uncanny.

229 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2012

Gothic Literary Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Music: General Music

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“This book is the most original and sophisticated analysis of the interconnection between music and the Gothic yet produced. Van Elferen’s expansive understanding of sonic Gothicism allows her to break new ground through considerations of Gothic music in film, TV, and video games. She takes the idea of the Gothic in entirely new directions in this innovative, intelligent, and enjoyable study.”

Jeffrey Weinstock, Central Michigan University

“Reading Isabella van Elferen’s Gothic Music: The Sounds of the Uncanny is like turning up the volume: the full richness and complexity of Gothic music suddenly becomes audible. This is a genuinely groundbreaking book, instantly taking possession of and defining the field. Gothic will never sound quite the same again.”

Catherine Spooner, Lancaster University

“Isabella van Elferen’s book is original, witty, and provocative. Her approach is anything but reductive, as her epigraph—“Il y a plenty de hors-texte”—suggests. She considers music in a variety of media and her analyses are engaging and refreshingly jargon-free. This is a work that enters boldly into critical debate and is not afraid to speculate on broader philosophical issues. Van Elferen brings insights from the discipline of musicology into the field of gothic studies and, in doing so, very much enriches it.”

Emma McEvoy, Westminster University

Table of Contents

Introduction: ’Baleful Sounds and Wild Voices Ignored’

1. The Sound of Gothic Literature
2. Gothic Film Music: The Audiovisual Uncanny
3. Gothic Television Music: The Unhomely Home
4. Gothic Game Music: Hyperreality Haunted
5. Gothic Music: Uncanny Embodied
6. The Unthinkable Sounds of the Uncanny


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