The Luminary Postgraduate Magazine Lancaster University

Hidden Voices Cover

Hidden Voices: Whispers, Silences, Undersides

Issue 4: Autumn 2014

ISSN 2056-9238 (online)

This issue explores the muffled or silenced voices that can be found in art, literature and culture. These are the voices that are hushed or even silenced, voices that whisper at the edges of conversations. Each of the pieces in this issue - both critical and creative - explore silences or uncover conversations going on underneath the hubbub.

Read online by following the links below or download this issue as a PDF.



Thanksgiving, no Thanks (Creative Writing - Short Fiction)

David Garrett Izzo

A sadistically cruel breakup sends a man hurtling through a drug-induced unhinged vortex of hidden voices until the dizzying centrifugal spin crashes him into a very public breakdown and an ambulance ride to the local psycho ward. Read>>

The Good Postman (Creative Writing - Short Fiction)

Jan Carson

The Good Postman is a short story which explores the fragile and oftentimes strained bonds which exist between people who have been drawn together by geography. Adopting a slightly absurdist tone, the story raises the question of whether community is possible and how this can be achieved in a world where neighbours lead increasingly compartmentalised lives. Read>>

21 Yr. Old Mass Murderer (Creative Writing - Short Fiction)

Richard Barr

This story explores the nascent influence of the ‘conspiracy theorist’ in the sphere of print and broadcast news journalism. The narrator of the piece, in a letter to unspecified ‘Sir(s),’ sets out what he believes to be the true circumstances behind a recent upsurge in spree shootings. Referring to his mounting research and drawing attention to the fact there’s a growing audience for his work, he implores the general public to take heed of his warnings before the danger represented by these killings becomes too big to resist. Thematically, the story explores the ways in which information is managed in the age of news in real-time, with the narrator representing the increasingly vocal ‘Info-Warrior’ – those on the fringes of the news media who absorb, interpret and circulate their own take on domestic and world events; appraisals which are almost always at odds with those of the mainstream, established press. Read>>

'The Giving Trees' and 'Where the Wild Things Were' (Poetry)

Elizabeth Johnston

‘Where the Wild Things Were’ is a re-writing of Maurice Sendak’s children’s story, Where the Wild Things Are, whose protagonist responds to a wild call from across the sea. However, it is also a feminist rewriting of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s fairy tale poem, ‘The Lady of Shalott,’ which tells of a woman trapped in a tower who is suddenly, wordlessly called to leave her tower and go down to the river’s shore. This rewriting also brings in the voice of Emily Dickinson in ‘Wild Nights,’ a poem whose primary symbol is also the sea and which similarly features a speaker yearning for the forbidden love that calls her. ‘Where the Wild Things Were’ brings all three works into dialogue thematically and linguistically. ‘The Giving Trees’ is also a rewriting of a classic children’s story by Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree. Though beloved among many generations of readers, the inherent message of this story is problematic from a feminist perspective. This rewriting gives voice to the ‘giving trees’ by explicitly calling into question the traditional narrative of femininity as selfless, silent martyr. Read>>

Chuck and Di (Creative Writing - Short Fiction

Lisa Blower

‘Chuck and Di’ pays homage to Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads and, in particular, the way Bennett wanted to capture ‘how life generally happens elsewhere and in hearsay.’ This monologue focuses upon the ailing marriage of a retired working-class couple in Stoke-on-Trent for whom the demise of the Potteries has had a long-standing effect upon their way of life. It attempts to recapture the working-class voice, silent stories, and rigorous work ethic of a fading culture: its tone is reflective of how women gossiped on their front doorsteps yet evaded any intimate disclosure; careful to always conceal the woman who really existed beyond the surface of oral storytelling. Read>>


Female Subjectivity, Sexual Violence, and the American Nation: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Melissa R. Sande, Union County College

This essay closely reads the destructive nature of silencing in Toni Morrison’s first book, The Bluest Eye, published in 1970. Morrison had been at work on the book for quite some time before finally publishing at the end of this important decade. If Sylvia Plath opened the decade by pondering why motherhood and wifehood were a woman’s obligations to the nation in The Bell Jar, Morrison brings this idea full circle when she deconstructs the notion of childhood innocence in her novel. As Debra T. Werrlein explains, there has often been an inextricable link ‘between thematics of childhood innocence in American culture and an ideology of national innocence’ (54). With characters like Pecola Breedlove, Maureen Peel, or even Claudia MacTeer, Morrison demonstrates otherwise: these are anything but innocent, uncorrupted children. Using the community in the novel as a microcosm for the larger nation, Morrison’s attention to the cyclical nature of human behaviour seeks to emphasize just how responsible complacent community members are for the hideous injustices enacted based on race and gender, which, in this case, include sexual violation and physical abuse. Read>>

'We Sing our Lies through Empty Sounds': Hidden Voices in Gothic Music

Vivien Leanne Saunders, Lancaster University

This paper seeks to explore the narrative potential of contemporary Gothic music. In particular, it looks at works that are lyrically inarticulate, yet communicate complex ideas, narratives, characters and emotions. Chris Baldick informs us that Gothic literature combines affective features which ‘reinforce each other to produce an impression of sickening descent into disintegration’ (Baldick 2009). It is my argument that the diverse emotional features of music can also interrelate to form this Gothic effect. Further, I propose that this interaction leads us to mistrust our normal cognitive response to lyrical music, and instead find contradictions between the articulate and expressive narrative voice. Inarticulate works such as ‘Five Years’ by Sugar Hiccup (1995) describe vivid scenarios by subverting our anticipations of the lyric. These scenarios are enriched through the imposition of deliberate muteness. Although Gothic musical works often have very diverse stylistic features, the manipulation of expectations in inarticulate works is a feature which begins to suggest genre congruency. Read>>

Of Spectacle and Grandeur: The Musical Rhetoric of Private vs. Public Ceremony in Showtime’s The Borgias

Maria M. Kingsbury, Southwest Minnesota State University and Texas Tech University and Stephen A. Kingsbury, Southwest Minnesota State University

While its salacious advertising campaign and lush visuals do not evoke a television show sporting complex layers, the historical music used in the premiere episode of Showtime’s The Borgias (2011) encourages audiences to scratch away at the shiny surface to realize darker, complicated, and often ironic realities upholding both the characters in the narrative and the historical context that the story reflects. This paper, which examines the narrative placement of ‘historical’ (not original soundtrack), seemingly chronologically accurate music of ‘The Poisoned Chalice,’ including Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Carlo Gesualdo’s O Vos Omnes, suggests that nothing in The Borgias ought to be taken at face value; what seems to be ‘authentic’ 15th century music is actually anachronistic. Anachronism, our paper goes on to argue, ought not be viewed in this context as a fault. Instead, uncovering the messages embedded within these pieces’ original contexts and performances reveals character motivations and knowledge not verbally acknowledged in the television program itself. Audiences, then, might look upon ‘anachronisms’ and disruptive elements in scripted television epics such as The Borgias not as detracting from the viewing experience, but as opportunities to examine unspoken messages and assumptions that may resound just beneath the surface of the fictional narrative. Read>>

Ridley’s Key: The Forgotten Influence of Joseph Losey in Blade Runner

Vincent Joseph Noto

In the film adaptation of Sarah’s Key something other than Sarah’s brother calls out from behind a secret closet, at least in terms of film history. It is the voice of blacklisted Joseph Losey who addressed the topic of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup much earlier in his 1976 film Monsieur Klein. This is a part of film history that has been repressed or forgotten. But Losey’s voice, still especially under-recognized in the U.S., can be made out in the works of a director widely appreciated in American culture, Ridley Scott, particularly in his masterpiece, Blade Runner. This article discusses howScott alludes to or borrows Losey’s imagery in ways subtle and not so subtle. It closely scrutinizes imagery, themes, and tropes of eye-examinations, of psychological tests, of photograph and mirror inspections, of state-altered memories, of the animal nature of man, of the Brechtian man-as-machine formulation, of gender roles and doll-associations, and of film noir-like room and backstage-dancehall inspections used as metaphor for examinations of the unconscious. This article will identify within Blade Runner an array of allusions and homages to Joseph Losey’s Monsieur Klein, The Boy with the Green Hair, Time Without Pity, Modesty Blaise, and M. If the general public no longer remembers Joseph Losey’s contributions such as Monsieur Klein—formed long before Sarah’s Key—then some of us will have to sustain his memory knowing fragments of his influence are left to us, however hidden, within the works and psyche of some the finest contemporary filmmakers. Read>>

The Haunted Voice and Spherical Narrative of Ben Wheatley's A Field in England

Ryan Arwood, Leeds Metropolitan University

Ben Wheatley's 2013 film A Field in England charts the haunted movements of five English Civil War deserters through a field in search of treasure.  Using the techniques of deconstruction from the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, this essay explores the underpinnings of the narrative structure of the film to describe the characters haunted aspects through a circumventable time that renders the film as a never ending loop.  The beginning of the film is physically the ending of the film as far as narrative is concerned.  The characters are spectres in this plight through the field in which they are trapped, outside of which the English Civil War rages on outside.  With reference to Derrida, this essay will show how Ben Wheatley turns traditional, linear, narrative upon its head.  Read>>

Sisterly Silences: The Unveiling of Hidden Voices in Vanessa Bell’s illustrations for Virginia Woolf’s ‘Kew Gardens’

Hana Leaper, The University of Liverpool

The close sororal bond between the artist Vanessa Bell and her younger sister, the writer Virginia Woolf, was a fundamental element of their professional practice. It enabled their emancipation from restrictive Victorian social codes, the formation and endurance of the Bloomsbury group, and their respective creative processes. The idea that Woolf's ekphrastic writing style is in part influenced by Bell's visual aesthetics has been investigated by a number of critics, including Diane Filby Gillespie in The Sisters' Arts, Jane Dunn in A Very Close Conspiracy, and Jane Goldman in The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf. This paper will examine Bell's embellishment of the 3rd edition of Woolf's short story ‘Kew Gardens’, published in 1927, in order to further explore this collaboration between artist and writer, image and word, silence and speech, and the effect of these collusions on the reader's experience of the story. It will build upon previous studies to show that this reciprocity was not simply theoretical, but that Bell's images – which are not simply illustrations directly reflecting the content of the text, but designs that act as borders, punctuation, bridges or disruptions – significantly modify the process of reading the page, in comparison with the previous two unadorned editions of the same text. They become an important feature of the text, acting as a visual metacommentary that allows the complex pre-cognitive emotions hinted at in the writing to be more fully realized. Read>>

Revision and Revisionist History in Dermot Bolger’s A Second Life

Erika Meyers, The University of Edinburgh

This paper explores the view that interpretations of silenced aspects of history influence the editorial process. This argument is based upon my reading of Dermot Bolger’s, A Second Life, anovel that interrogates Ireland’s legally-enforced wall of silence between birth mothers and their adopted children. Originally published in 1994 and then rewritten and republished in 2010, amongst sweeping changes in Ireland’s treatment of unwed mothers and adopted children,Bolger’s decision to rewrite A Second Life will allow this paper to analyse the changes in context and literary technique between the two versions of the novel in order to argue that the revision process is determined by changing perceptions of silences in social history. Taking a Marxist approach, this paper will argue that historical interpretation and the revision process are mediated through class stratifications in the capitalist system and are therefore inherently subjective. Read>>

“Un coup de dés”: The Secret History of Poetry — and its Imaginary future

Johanna Skibsrud, The University of Arizona

The crisis of modern philosophy identified by the thinkers Alain Badiou and Quentin Meillassoux – where a supposed end of absolutes has in fact delivered us to a new form of absolutism – parallels a similar crisis in contemporary poetry. “The end of metaphysics,” writes Meillassoux in After Finitude, “understood as the ‘de-absolutization of thought,’ […] consist(s) in the rational legitimation of any and every variety of religious (or poetico-religious) belief in the absolute, so long as the latter invokes no authority beside itself” (45). According to Badiou and Meillassoux, contemporary philosophy finds itself, today, trapped helplessly within a “correlational” loop, wherein all meaning is rendered subjective and relative, and the idea of truth is eliminated entirely. Contemporary poetry parallels this philosophical crisis. An increasingly entrenched distance divides poetry as an expression of absolute subjectivity and poetry as a “truth procedure” (Badiou IT 45). Following Badiou and Meillousaux, I will argue that poetry remains a valuable truth procedure not via its commitment to absolute subjectivity but rather via its commitment to the multiple, linear, contingent, and incoherent events that constitute it. Read>>

Behind the brand of James Bond

Elizabeth Nichols, Lancaster University

This article will focus on branding and the film industry, and how branding works to conceal individual actors' identities. My central focus is Daniel Craig and his portrayal of the character James Bond in a range of advertising campaigns. The article considers the prominence of branding in contemporary society and the way branding operates in relation to popular film franchises, such as James Bond. Various products attach themselves to the brand of James Bond, a brand that has a specific actor - Daniel Craig - at its centre. Consequently, the actor comes to be associated with the brand on a more permanent basis. This article argues that the actor himself is covered over by the different layers of the brand until the two are indistinguishable from each other. Read>>

A Secret of No Import

Daniel Sander, New York University

This paper explores the queer work of the aesthetic realm in terms of mimesis and a depathologized melancholia. It takes as its two primary theoretical interlocutors the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick of The Weather in Proust and the collages that comprise artist Henrik Olesen’s Some Illustrations to the Life of Alan Turing. The paper works toward such an exploration through these interlocutors by charting the various non-dualisms that appear in Sedgwick's book. These non-dualisms are then diffracted through actor-network theory so as to make the work of the aesthetic realm analogous to that of the technological instruments of data mining and mapping. Read>>


A note on the contributors:

David Garrett Izzo is an English Professor emeritus in Raleigh North Carolina who has published 17 books and 60 essays of literary scholarship, as well as three novels, two plays, a short story, and poems. David has published extensively on the Perennial Spiritual Philosophy of Mysticism (Vedanta) as applied to literature. He is inspired by the work of Aldous Huxley, Bruce Springsteen, his wife Carol and their five cats: Huxley, Max, Princess, Phoebe, and Luca.


Jan Carson is a novelist, short story writer and playwright currently based in Belfast. She has had stories published in The Bohemyth, The Open Ear, The Honest Ulsterman and various other journals on both sides of the Atlantic. Jan is current recipient of Arts Council Northern Ireland’s Artists’ Career Enhancement Bursary. Her first novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears was published by Liberties Press, Dublin in June 2014.

Follow Jan on Twitter @jancarson7280

Richard Barr's writing surveys the edges of the esoteric, specifically the occult aspects of some intelligence agency practices and how this relates to modern day Realpolitik. He writes speculative fiction dealing with said themes and his work has been published in various online/print magazines.


Lisa Blower is a novelist and short story writer with a PhD in Creative & Critical Writing (Bangor University, 2011). Lisa’s short story ‘Broken Crockery’ won The Guardian’s National Short Story Prize in 2009, and ’Barmouth’ was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2013. ‘Johnny Dangerously’ was published in The New Welsh Review Spring Issue, 2014, and ‘Pot Luck’ - a monologue for Radio 4’s State of the Nation series was recently broadcast in April, 2014.


Elizabeth Johnston teaches writing, literature, and gender studies at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. Her poems have been featured in The Muse: An International Journal of Poetry, Organs of Vision and Sense, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, B (a collection of poetry inspired by Barbie), Yellow Medicine Review, the forthcoming anthology Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poems on the Abuse and Oppression of Women, and The Journal of South Texas English Studies. Her scholarly work likewise tends to focus on representations of female sexuality in literature, television, and film and has been published in collections such as Disjointed Perspectives on Motherhood (Lexington Books, 2013), How Real is Reality Television (MacFarland, 2006), and in the forthcoming Mythology and Modern Women Poets: Analysis, Reflection & Teaching (MacFarland, 2014). Her poems tend to reflect her experiences as both mother and feminist scholar. When she is not grading papers, writing poetry, helping her daughters with their homework, or hiking in the Adirondacks with her partner, Brian, she facilitates writing workshops for breast cancer survivors at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester and for survivors of sexual assault within the Rochester community.


Melissa R. Sande received her PhD in May of 2013 and her current research focuses on twentieth century African American and Caribbean literature by women. She teaches composition and literature at Union County College in New Jersey.


Vivien Leanne Saunders is currently working on her PhD on narrative and the temporal arts at Lancaster University. She is a member of the Society of Musical Analysis (SMA) and the International Gothic Association. Her research interests range from: discussions of soundtrack dissonance in contemporary film; explorations of the Gothic genre in literature, modern music, art and film; analysis of sound and image in video games; and the effects of temporal perception on our understanding of narrative. She is currently preparing a co-written paper on the uncanny and its defamiliarising effects in Dear Esther (2012) for publication.


Maria M. Kingsbury is Assistant Professor of Library and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Southwest Minnesota State University. She also works on her PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.


Stephen A. Kingsbury is Director of Choral Activities in the Department of Fine Arts and Communication at Southwest Minnesota State University.


Vincent Joseph Noto studied film under Dr. Michael G. Tate at CSU Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley of California. While there he also studied poetry under Pulitzer Prize winner, Philip Levine. Noto has managed bookstores, and taught in high schools. After many years of living in Southern California, Noto recently moved to Portland, Oregon with his ever‑reading librarian fiancée, Melissa. There he enjoys nature walks, engages in autodidactic inquires, and scribbles into a panoptic book about archetypes in film, literature, drama, and mythology. Noto has published a creative non-fiction essay in Halfway Down the Stairs Quarterly. He has recent and forthcoming poetry published in The Connecticut River Review, The Camel Saloon, Contrary, Spillway, Waterhouse Review (UK), Pedestal, and Pearl magazines, as well as a short story forthcoming in an anthology from Marin Poetry Center Press. Links available at:


Ryan Arwood is a MA student studying Contemporary Literatures at Leeds Metropolitan University.  His research interests include the built environment through the lenses of art, film and literature as well as contemporary English literature.  He is currently working on his Master's thesis on the topic of the built environment shaping identity in post-Thatcher literature in the North of England.


Hana Leaper is studying for her PhD, in literature, at the University of Liverpool. Her research interests include Visual Studies, Literary Modernism, Women's Literature, Literature and Visual Arts and Fin de Siecle Literature & Culture.


Erika Meyers is a third year PhD candidate in Irish Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Her current research focuses on the alienation of the individual in Dermot Bolger's fiction.


Johanna Skibsrud holds a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona and is working on a book length project on contemporary poetry, The Poetic Imperative: Redefining the Human through Contemporary Art and Literature.  She will be joining the faculty of English at the University of Arizona in fall, 2014, teaching modern and contemporary poetry.  Her scholarly reviews and articles have been published in Mosaic, The Brock Review, antiTHESIS, Hyphen, The Volta, and Reviews in Cultural Theory. She is also the author of two books of poetry (Gaspereau Press), a collection of short stories, and a novel (Penguin/William Heinemann/Norton). 


Elizabeth Nichols is studying for a PhD in Film at Lancaster University's Institute for Contemporary Arts. Her research focuses on spectatorship, and, in particular, the figure of the 'distracted spectator' or cinema-goer.


Daniel Sander is working towards a PhD in the Department of Performance Studies, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. His research interests include the philosophy of desire, the psychopathology of deviance, libidinal materialism, and queer nihilism. Email:


Cover art by Vivien Leanne Saunders, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA), Lancaster University. Vivien can be contacted via

We would also like to thank our peer reviewers for their kind consideration and efforts with this issue

Creative editors: Liz Monument and Yvonne Battle-Felton

Critical editors: Rhianon Jones, Chuckie Patel, Vivien Leanne Saunders and Chloe Germaine Buckley

General Editor: Chloe Germaine Buckley

Thanks also to The Department of English and Creative Writing, Lancaster University and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Enterprise Centre, Lancaster University

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