Oralising Early Modern Literature

Wednesday 5 November 2014 18.00

A Lecture by Brian Richardson (University of Leeds)

How and how far did orality play a part in the circulation of literature in early modern Italy? The period has traditionally been seen as one that, as far as texts are concerned, was dominated by a sight-orientated culture as opposed to a sound-orientated one, especially because of the spread of printing. Yet many compositions were still diffused through the voice, in speech or song, as well as in writing or indeed in preference to it, and this kind of circulation was not necessarily associated only with illiterate culture. This talk will consider which kinds of texts might be performed in public or in private, the occasions on which they were performed, the professionals or amateurs who performed them, how and in which varieties of languages they were performed, using evidence from contemporary accounts and from the texts themselves. It will also suggest possible answers to the more difficult question of what the perceived benefits of performance might have been for the performer and the audience.