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Look Inside Shakespeare's Accents

Shakespeare's Accents
Voicing Identity in Performance


  • Publication planned for: April 2020
  • availability: Not yet published - available from April 2020
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108429627

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • Voices and accents are increasingly perceived as central markers of identity in Shakespearean performance. This book presents a history of the reception of Shakespeare on the English stage with a focus on the vocal dimensions of theatrical performance. The chapters identify key moments when English accents have caused controversy, if not public outrage. Sonia Massai examines the cultural connotations associated with different accents and how accents have catalysed concerns about national, regional and social identities that are (re)constituted in and through Shakespearean performance. She argues that theatre makers and reformers, elocutionists and historical linguists, as well as directors, actors and producers have all had a major impact on how accents have evolved and changed on the Shakespearean stage over the last four hundred years. This fascinating book offers a rich historical survey alongside close performance analysis.

    • Elucidates the cultural forces that have affected how Shakespeare has been spoken on stage and decoded by audiences over the last four hundred years
    • Links the reception of accents on the Shakespearean stage to wider concerns about national, regional and social identities
    • Presents fresh archival evidence to identify new influential interventions in the history of the acoustic reception of Shakespeare on the English stage
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Anyone who thinks that accents in Shakespeare's scripts are limited to the likes of Fluellen, MacMorris, Jamy, the Dauphin, Princess Catherine, and country clowns will find an earful in Sonia Massai's Shakespeare's Accents. So, too, will anyone who feels dubious about original pronunciation or positive about regional and foreign accents in contemporary productions. Massai has chosen to begin with contemporary productions and work backward toward accents cued in the scripts. The result is a beautifully modulated book in every sense of the word.' Bruce Smith, University of Southern California

    'This deeply impressive book deserves to have a huge impact. Few scholars would have the ability or vision, to range so authoritatively from the language politics of Elizabethan England, through the accents of David Garrick, to the BBC archives of the 1930s and 40s and the lost history of original pronunciation. Along the way, we hear Beckett tweaking a 1964 production of Godot, and are vividly present at early performances of The Moors (2018). A triumphant combination of linguistics and performance criticism from a world-class scholar right at the top of her game.' Jonathan Hope, Arizona State University

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: April 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108429627
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: Not yet published - available from April 2020
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Accents yet unknown': the changing soundscape of Shakespeare in contemporary performance
    2. 'Lend me your Ears': experiments with original pronunciation
    3. David Garrick's 'sonic revolution': hegemony and protest, 1737–1843
    4. 'Usual speech' and 'barbarous dialects' on the early modern stage.

  • Author

    Sonia Massai, King's College London
    Sonia Massai is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and has published widely on the history of the transmission of Shakespeare on the stage and on the page. Her publications include World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance (2005), Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editor (Cambridge, 2007), collections of essays on Ivo van Hove: From Shakespeare to David Bowie (2018), Shakespeare and Textual Studies (Cambridge, 2015) and critical editions of John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (2011) and The Paratexts in English Printed Drama to 1642 (Cambridge, 2014).

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