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.
In The Aesthetics of Service in Early Modern England, Elizabeth Rivlin explores the ways in which servant-master relationships reshaped literature. The early modern servant is enjoined to obey his or her master out of dutiful love, but the servant's duty actually amounts to standing in for the master, a move that opens the possibility of becoming master. Rivlin shows that service is fundamentally a representational practice, in which the servant who acts for a master merges with the servant who acts as a master.
Rivlin argues that in the early modern period, servants found new positions as subjects and authors found new forms of literature. Representations of servants and masters became a site of contact between pressing material concerns and evolving aesthetic ones. Offering readings of dramas by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Thomas Dekker and prose fictions by Thomas Deloney and Thomas Nashe, Rivlin suggests that these authors discovered their own exciting and unstable projects in the servants they created.
"The Anonymous Renaissance offers a paradigm-shifting look at print culture in early modern England. North demonstrates through sound historical discussions and readings that anonymity was one of the defining practices of Renaissance authorship. It is difficult to overstate the originality and importance of this new study."-Jennifer Summit, Stanford University
The Renaissance was in many ways the beginning of modern and self-conscious authorship, a time when individual genius was celebrated and an author's name could become a book trade commodity. Why, then, did anonymous authorship flourish during the Renaissance rather than disappear? In addressing this puzzle, Marcy L. North reveals the rich history and popularity of anonymity during this period.
The book trade, she argues, created many intriguing and paradoxical uses for anonymity, even as the authorial name became more marketable. Among ecclesiastical debaters, for instance, anonymity worked to conceal identity, but it could also be used to identify the moral character of the author being concealed. In court and coterie circles, meanwhile, authors turned name suppression into a tool for the preservation of social boundaries. Finally, in both print and manuscript, anonymity promised to liberate an authentic female voice, and yet made it impossible to authenticate the gender of an author. In sum, the writers and book producers who helped to create England's literary culture viewed anonymity as a meaningful and useful practice.
Written with clarity and grace, The Anonymous Renaissance will fill a prominent gap in the study of authorship and English literary history.
The Author's Due offers an institutional and cultural history of books, the book trade, and the bibliographic ego. Joseph Loewenstein traces the emergence of possessive authorship from the establishment of a printing industry in England to the passage of the 1710 Statute of Anne, which provided the legal underpinnings for modern copyright. Along the way he demonstrates that the culture of books, including the idea of the author, is intimately tied to the practical trade of publishing those books.
As Loewenstein shows, copyright is a form of monopoly that developed alongside a range of related protections such as commercial trusts, manufacturing patents, and censorship, and cannot be understood apart from them. The regulation of the press pitted competing interests and rival monopolistic structures against one another—guildmembers and nonprofessionals, printers and booksellers, authors and publishers. These struggles, in turn, crucially shaped the literary and intellectual practices of early modern authors, as well as early capitalist economic organization.
With its probing look at the origins of modern copyright, The Author's Due will prove to be a watershed for historians, literary critics, and legal scholars alike.