Sounds Like Murder: Early 1980s Gothic on North American Radio

McMurtry, LG ORCID: 2022, 'Sounds Like Murder: Early 1980s Gothic on North American Radio' , Gothic Studies, 24 (2) , pp. 151-166.

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Horror and the Gothic have long been staple genres of radio drama, including the radio drama revival series of the late 1970s–early 1980s, CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1974–82). During the same time period, the Canadian government, recognising an emergent national-identity crisis in relation to its southern neighbour, invested heavily in original programming on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). This resulted in the popular horror series Nightfall (1980–3), which Danielle Hancock argues presented ‘murder as a Canadian national narrative’ (2018). While CBSRMT occasionally adapted existing stories from other media, the majority of the output for both series were original, written-for-the-air dramas. Embodying Gothic returns of the past upon the present and the effects of transgressive conduct in society, murder is examined as a Gothic trait in episodes of Nightfall and CBSRMT. Radio’s ambiguities and intimacies provoke listeners of these programmes to confront disjunction. The differing worldviews – American masculine nationalism and neoconservatism subverted; Canadian polite and tolerant masculinity turned upside down by a nihilistic rejection of these values – focus Gothic spotlights on each country’s anxieties.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: 'This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Edinburgh University Press in Gothic Studies. The Version of Record is available online at:
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Journal or Publication Title: Gothic Studies
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Depositing User: LG McMurtry
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2022 14:25
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2022 14:30

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