Niklas Cyril Fischer
Literary scholar and translator , University of Fribourg
Niklas Cyril Fischer is a literary scholar and translator. As part of his research, he investigates the history of noise in literature, both as a physical experience represented in writing and as a metaphor for the interaction of different styles within a given text. He holds a BA and MA in English language and literature from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and a PhD from the University of Sydney. As a translator, he has been involved with zweikommasieben, a magazine devoted to the documentation of contemporary music and sounds, and he is the co-creator of the podcast World of Noise.
A Literary History of Noise
The history of European literature includes a history of noise. It is, among many other things, a record of unwanted, undesirable, even harmful sound. This can be traced back to the rise of the novel in the 18th century, which initiates the shift from literary practices based on recitation to silent reading, which remains the dominant form of reading in the present. For the most part, noise is thought to be incompatible with reading as well as writing because it interferes with concentration. With this in mind, the literature of modernity, that is, the time in which industrialisation led to unprecedented levels of noise, offers a sharp critique of noise. At the same time, modernity is also the period in which the growing sensitivity to noise begins to fuel literary innovation. Furthermore, literary history also becomes one of the places in which cultural theories of noise as a central feature of artistic innovation become articulated over the course of the 20th and 21st century. It is a dense cultural record of listening that emphasises how deeply sound is woven into human experience.