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The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor Hardcover – May 1 1999


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From Library Journal

Smith (English, Georgetown Univ.) offers a provocative evocation of the world of sound in Shakespeare's England. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources as well as insights from aspects of modern scholarship as diverse as cultural studies and anatomy, Smith delineates a picture of the soundscapes and soundmarks of that place and time and their cultural significance. The study is divided into three sections: "Around" (setting the stage and mapping the field), "Within" (focusing on the various sounds of performance, voice, music, and dance), and "Beyond" (stepping beyond England to examine contemporary reactions to other cultures and their soundscapes). This phenomenology of sound will be of interest to specialists in early theater, music history, and early modern English culture.AAbigail Ann Young, Univ. of Toronto
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
how did the plays and ballads sound? Feb. 9 2007
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Smith has resurrected for the reader many of the ballads of Middle English [ie. around Shakespeare's time]. Many of these are easily comprehended by the modern reader. Even if you haven't read Shakespeare or Milton lately, the meanings of the ballads comes through very clearly.

But, as the title indicates, he also pays close attention to the acoustics. These refer to the physical environments in which the ballads and plays might and probably were read. Including naturally the immortal Globe Theatre in London. So we see the floor plan of the Globe, and speculation as to how this would have affected the listening experience of the audience. The reader should remember that back then, there were no modern special effects. So the pure performance visuals and acoustics were probably more important and stressed, for what else did they have?


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