The Acoustic World Of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor

Paperback | April 15, 1999

byBruce R. Smith

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We know how a Shakespeare play sounds when performed today, but what would listeners have heard within the wooden "O" of the Globe Theater in 1599? What sounds would have filled the air in early modern England, and what would these sounds have meant to people in that largely oral culture?

In this ear-opening journey into the sound-worlds of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Bruce R. Smith explores both the physical aspects of human speech (ears, lungs, tongue) and the surrounding environment (buildings, landscape, climate), as well as social and political structures. Drawing on a staggeringly wide range of evidence, he crafts a historical phenomenology of sound, from reconstructions of the "soundscapes" of city, country, and court to detailed accounts of the acoustic properties of the Globe and Blackfriars theaters and how scripts designed for the two spaces exploited sound very differently.

Critical for anyone who wants to understand the world of early modern England, Smith's pathbreaking "ecology" of voice and listening also has much to offer musicologists and acoustic ecologists.

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From Our Editors

Shakespeare is one of the best-known and most timeless playwrights the world has ever seen. But did the 16th-century audiences who attended the premieres of his works at the Globe hear them the way we do today? Such is the premise of this "aural" history by Bruce R. Smith. The Acoustic World of Early Modern England examines both the ph...

From the Publisher

We know how a Shakespeare play sounds when performed today, but what would listeners have heard within the wooden "O" of the Globe Theater in 1599? What sounds would have filled the air in early modern England, and what would these sounds have meant to people in that largely oral culture?In this ear-opening journey into the sound-world...

Bruce R. Smith is professor of English at Georgetown University. He is author of Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England: A Cultural Poetics, published by the University of Chicago Press, and The Art and History of Washington, D.C.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:April 15, 1999Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226763773

ISBN - 13:9780226763774

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
1. Around
1. Opening
2. Mapping the Field
3. The Soundscapes of Early Modern England: City, Country, Court
4. Re: Membering
5. Some Propositions Concerning O
2. Within
6. Games, Gambols, Gests, Jests, Jibes, Jigs
7. Ballads Within, Around, Among, Of, Upon, Against, Within
8. Within the Wooden O
9. Circling the Subject
3. Beyond
10. Listen, Otherwise
Works Cited
Index

From Our Editors

Shakespeare is one of the best-known and most timeless playwrights the world has ever seen. But did the 16th-century audiences who attended the premieres of his works at the Globe hear them the way we do today? Such is the premise of this "aural" history by Bruce R. Smith. The Acoustic World of Early Modern England examines both the physiological: the ear, lungs and tongue, and the physical: buildings, climate, landscape, which contributed to the soundscape of Shakespeare’s time. Smith also examines how the unique acoustic characteristics of the Globe and Blackfriars required specially designed scripts.