The ‘Wireless Voice’: Women, Creativity and Intelligence Work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


‘I am just an echo-chamber myself’
(Christine Brooke-Rose, 1970)

There were ways of knowing that lay hidden for decades. Bletchley Park, a country estate on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, was at the centre of a web of intercept sites that received, recorded, decrypted and analysed German signals intelligence during World War II. At the height of the hostilities, the German war machine was sending well over two thousand signals a day into the air. The tickering of the teleprinters, the quavering of radio signals, the thundering of the Bombe machines, all formed a sonic barrage that did not halt at any moment, day or night, for the duration of the war. Of the thousands attending to these sounds, signals, symbols, more than 70% where female.
This paper will explore the challenges of interception, the ways that visitations are made upon texts, and the ephemerality of knowledge. What new attitudes to language and knowledge were shaped by the experiences of women working in these intelligence centres? What new encoded structures and forms were made possible? It will look to the early poetry of the writer Christine Brooke-Rose and the short stories of Elizabeth Bowen to explore a growing suspicion of language, record, and meaning in post-war Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2019
EventBritish Association for Modernist Studies International Conference - Senate House, London
Duration: 20 Jun 201922 Jun 2019


ConferenceBritish Association for Modernist Studies International Conference
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