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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The inadequacy of the term ‘audience’ for the sensory experience of playgoing has been well noted by both early moderns and contemporary scholars: ‘there is no English term’, Andrew Gurr observes, ‘which acknowledges the full experience of both hearing and seeing the complete “action” of a play’. By the early seventeenth century, Gurr argues, the variety of theatrical spaces, playgoers, and repertories made ‘the choice between hearing and seeing ... an issue’. Recent scholarship has attuned us to the soundscapes of early modern England. This article inverts that scholarship in order to direct attention to early moderns who could not hear, and to explore moments on the early modern English stage when ‘the complete “action”’ did not include speaking.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton, audience, sensory experience, playgoing, speaking, soundscapes

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