Thesis Theater: Gwen Grant, “Sound and Ritualistic Language in Charles Williams’ War in Heaven”

Signum University Thesis Theater
Join us on Oct. 8, 2020, at 3pm ET for a Thesis Theater on Charles Williams’ "War in Heaven."


Sørina Higgins


October 8, 2020 - 3:00 pm EDT


October 8, 2020 - 4:00 pm EDT

Signum MA student Gwen Grant will present her thesis “Sound and Ritualistic Language in Charles Williams’ War in Heaven,” and respond to questions from the audience in an interactive Thesis Theater. The discussion will be facilitated by Gwen’s thesis advisor, Sørina Higgins.

Thesis Abstract

In this study, a link is uncovered between sound patterns and ritualistic language in Charles Williams’ novels through an analysis of the relationship between type of sound and content. The study focuses on War in Heaven, the first published of Williams’ novels (1930), with a view to conducting a preliminary exploration into the proposed link, and establishing the possibility of future research. Like Williams’ other novels, War in Heaven is saturated with the symbolism and ritual practices he learned through membership in the occult societies The Fellowship of the Rosy Cross and, potentially the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. As well as a novelist, Williams was also a talented poet and literary theorist who experimented with sound effects in his poetic work. Williams’ poetic experimentation with sound to convey his experience of magical ritual gained in occult societies is explored through the framework of Roman Jakobson’s “Poetic Function” (356). Jakobson’s theories provide a framework for establishing how Williams may have intended sound to contribute to the experience of the reader. Using a data driven approach, the study then explores how sound patterns work with ritualistic content across War in Heaven, discovering a link between fricative sounds and ritualistic events.

About the Presenter

Gwen Grant has been studying for an MA with Signum University since 2016, with an equal focus on Language and Literature. Her academic interests include linguistics, poetics, art history and theory, mythology, the occult and fantastic literature. In her other life, Gwen works in publishing and enjoys painting in her spare time.

About Signum Thesis Theaters

Our graduate students write a thesis at the end of their degree program, exploring a topic of their choice. The Thesis Theatre is where they can present their thesis to the Signum community and wider public, enabling them to explain their research in detail, and respond to questions from the audience.