Sounds matters

What can the mere sound of spoken words evoke?
What do Spanish Golden Age poetry and theatre actually sound like?
How are sound and sense associations used in poetry and theatre?
Why do we associate the vowels /u/ and /o/ with darkness?

This project investigates the fragile frontier between sound and meaning in Spanish Golden Age Literature. Recent research into neurolinguistics has revealed surprisingly stable associations between sounds and feelings, movements and even shape, to the degree that coincidence can be excluded as an explanation for this phenomenon. At present, literary criticism often ignores the acoustic materiality of texts. This is particularly surprising, considering the 16th and 17th centuries’ concepts of world harmony and the importance of hearing for religious purposes.

This project aims to answer the following questions: Where and in which contexts do the conceptual use and semantisation of sound structures occur? What were the intentions behind the use of these sound structures? Therefore, this project combines literary history and literary criticism from the perspective of current neurolinguistics, research on sound, and digital humanities. In order to study the vast corpus from the medieval romancero viejo, the romance nuevo (Lope de Vega, Luis de Góngora and Francisco de Quevedo) and the romances used on stage by Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, we are making use of newly developed open-source programs and databases.