Whale Song in Submarine Fiction

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


This chapter centers on another medium that establishes acoustic ties between species, even if it has less beneficial effects than the stethoscope, namely sonar technology. In the following paragraphs, I will juxtapose existing research on sonar discourse and the devastating impact of military technology on marine mammals with submarine thrillers as well as literary examples that are more experimental in terms of form and less dubious in terms of ideology. This confrontation contributes to the interdisciplinary project of the so-called ‘blue humanities’ by charting how the novel empowers us to access the deep and participates in reimagining marine life and the ocean environment in more and less militarized terms. In addition, I argue that a closer consideration of the threats faced by certain cetaceans encourages us to abandon reductive views of underwater habitats as well as one-dimensional apocalyptic narratives about the anticipated demise of the human species. Once again, then, these novels do not just present their readers with a more-than-human narrative but with a multispecies soundscape too, via intermedial forms of writing that explore a particular ecohistorical contact zone.


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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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