Silent History: deafness and sign language in early modern Europe

Early Modern Europe was an aural world. Despite the invention of print and the rise in literacy, speech was still the main form of communication: it was at the heart of religious worship and legal practice. In a world based around the spoken word, what about those who struggled to hear or who couldn’t speak?…

Read More »


Listening to warning bells in Beware the Cat

Sound functions as a literary device in William Baldwin’s Beware the Cat (c. 1552). This early novel recounts the tale of a curious priest and the alchemical consumption that enables him to open his ears in an exceptional way: he can understand the language of cats. Gregory Streamer, the priest in question, is kept awake…

Read More »

Speke riddles

On the outskirts of Liverpool is Speke Hall, which was built from 1530-1598 by the Norris family and is now in the ownership of the National Trust. The fabric of the hall contains many visual and acoustic conundrums. In the Tudor period, there was a fashion for building riddles and curious devices into buildings, but…

Read More »

Interior of the Oude Kerk, Delft,1660 Hendrick van Vliet Dutch

The architecture of the soundscape

In January, we had a preliminary workshop in York where we announced the formation of a new research network on soundscapes in the early world. In preparation for the soundscapes workshops we will run as part of the network, we asked deceptively simple questions about how we define soundscapes and how we engage with historic…

Read More »

Really listening to soundscapes

What is a soundscape? A soundscape is more than a bundle of locational sounds: it is also an overtone series that describes a rich array of relationships. The sounds of the first set are easier to hear than the second set. Soundscape, the word, comes from the composer and acoustician R. Murray Schafer* (1977, instigator…

Read More »

Bruce Smith on sound studies

Here, you may watch and listen to Bruce Smith’s lecture, “What is (Are?) Sound Studies and What Shape is it (Are They?) in Now?”, delivered at Green College, University of British Columbia, on Thursday 21st March 2019. We are extremely grateful to Green College for recording this talk and for allowing us to post it….

Read More »

Scroll to Top