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Silence and the Silenced

Interdisciplinary Perspectives


Edited By Leslie Boldt, Corrado Federici and Ernesto Virgulti

Silence and the Silenced: Interdisciplinary Perspectives comprises a collection of essays from North American and European scholars who examine the various ways in which the theme of silence is developed in literary narratives as well as in such visual media as photography, film, painting, and architecture. The questions of silence and the presence or absence of voice are also explored in the arena of performance, with examples relating to pantomime and live installations. As the book title indicates, two fundamental aspects of silence are investigated: silence freely chosen as a means to deepen meditation and inner reflection and silence that is imposed by external agents through various forms of political repression and censorship or, conversely, by the self in an attempt to express revolt or to camouflage shame. The approaches to these questions range from the philosophical and the psychological to the rhetorical and the linguistic. Together, these insightful reflections reveal the complexity and profundity that surround the function of silence and voice in an aesthetic and social context.


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The present volume comprises essays developed from papers presented at the sixth biennial Image & Imagery International Conference, held at Brock University, October 17-18, 2011. The theme of the conference was Silence and the Silenced, which dealt with the many meanings of the term ‘silence.’ Keith Grant-Davie notes that rhetoricians have always focussed more on words than on silences (the spaces between and around words), and that si- lence has been seen traditionally as a sign of rhetorical weakness. He exam- ines the ways in which silences operate rhetorically, the forms that silences take, the way in which we differentiate them, and the ways in which silences extend beyond the aural realm into the visual or physical. From Rhetoric, Grant-Davie goes on to examine silence in television (how singer Harry Belafonte fell asleep involuntarily in front of TV cameras), silence at a wed- ding ceremony, in advertisements, and in a Hitchcock film, as well as the spatial equivalents of silence in architecture (from IKEA to Frank Lloyd Wright). Ariel Harrod’s starting point is the traditional lack of interest in the ab- sence of sound in silent films and theater, convinced that an ‘ontology of si- lence’ can be formulated by delving into the production of ‘absolute empti- ness’ of sound. To this end, he examines the relationship among sound, image, and space on screen and on stage through his study of Vana Sant’s film Gerry and Samuel Beckett’s play Not I. Citing recent critical writing on emptiness in theatre and in...

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