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Title: Voices on the page : representations of orality in the eighteenth century
Author: Davies, L. I.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2009
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Abstract:
Analyses of early modern Europe and the developing commercial print culture of the eighteenth century tend to divide their focus between, on one hand, the impact of print upon styles of reading, writing, and textual dissemination, and on the other, discussions of literacy and orality in relation to ‘popular culture’. Within this research model definitions of ‘oral’ and ‘orality’ are based on a legacy of anthropological, historical, and literary studies which places a particular emphasis on the relationship between oral and literate modes and theorises the difference between them primarily in terms of alternative forms of sensory apprehension. This thesis argues that such an approach is limited and limiting. It offers an analysis of the ways in which the oral was understood and represented during the eighteenth century. Through an exploration of the assumptions that were then made about oral modes and practices it indicates not only where there is room to challenge the biases of its current critical formulation, but also identifies how much can be missed by an anachronistic interpretation of eighteenth-century attitudes. Accounts of and advice on the ideal conversation, public oration, and sermon form the focus of the first three chapters, which discuss how contemporary oral practices were imaged, theorized, and represented during this period. The subsequent chapters assess the engagement of eighteenth century writers with what they deem to be historical forms of orality. The representation of bardic poetry and song is examined through a reading of various conjectural histories, accounts of the effect of music and poetry, and descriptions of the classical world. A comparison between two versions of one text – Henry Bournes’ Antiquitates Vulgares (1725) and its reformulation by John Brand as Observations on Popular Antiquities (1777) – facilitates a reassessment of the connection between oral tradition and ‘popular culture’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.598383  DOI: Not available
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