A cultural history of sound in England 1560-1760
Sounds both penetrate bodies and emanate from them, and in this thesis I consider both the reception and deployment of sounds in a variety of social contexts - an aural history of England between 1560 and 1760. I confine my analysis to nonverbal and non-musical sounds which were made both deliberately and incidentally, voluntarily and involuntarily, and ask, under what conditions were sounds meaningful? The concern of Chapter 2 is the sense of hearing - how and when it was appreciated or confused, and how it could be sharpened, or dulled and deafened. The experiences of the deaf are also discussed, with a distinction made between the congenitally deaf, and those who became deaf after they had developed verbal language skills. The third chapter considers body sounds, such as belching, farting and sighing, and the factors which influenced their suppression or enhancement. The chapter explores in depth the various functions of laughing and crying, highlighting differences in behaviour between different social and demographic groups. Sound signals - sounds which warned that something was happening or would happen - are the subject of the fourth chapter. The discussion commences with an investigation of sounds which were thought to indicate future disasters, to provide clues about health, or to forecast weather. However, the bulk of the chapter is devoted to signals which were deliberately issued in the public realm in order to convey information, warn of calamities, announce deaths, instruct and gather communities, and mark temporal, social and spatial divisions. Chapter 5 extends this discussion by exploring the ways that secular and ecclesiastical authorities tried to control the apparatus of signalling, and by considering both the success of such attempts and the efficacy of sound signalling. Aggressive sounds feature in Chapter 6. The manner in which aggression was expressed depended on the status of the aggressor and the person towards whom aggression was directed; inferiors were subjected to crude and harsh sounds, while caution was required when projecting aggressive sounds at superiors. Chapter 7 analyses early modern conceptions of noise - sounds which were considered to be irritating. It explores the various contexts of noise, and shows how ' people manipulated their environment to reduce noise disturbance, through legal means and by altering buildings.