Sounding Otherness in Early Modern Theater and Travel Writing Open Access

My dissertation explores how sound informs the representation of cross-cultural interactions within early modern drama and travel writing. &ldquoSounding;” implies the process of producing music or noise, but it also suggests the attempt to make meaning of what one hears. &ldquoOtherness;” in this study refers to a foreign presence outside of the listening body, as well as to an otherness that is already inherent within. Sounding otherness enacts a bi-directional exchange between a culturally different other and an embodied self; this exchange generates what I term the sonic uncanny, whereby the otherness interior to the self vibrates with sounds of otherness exterior to the body. The sonic uncanny describes how sounds that are perceived as foreign become familiar through the vibratory touch of the soundwave that attunes a body to its sonic environment or soundscape. Sounds of foreign Eastern and New World Indian otherness become part of English and European travelers; at the same time, these travelers sound their own otherness in Indian spaces. Sounding otherness occurs in the travel narratives of Jean de Lèry, Thomas Dallam, Thomas Coryate, and John Smith. Cultural otherness is also sounded by the English through their theatrical representations of New World and Oriental otherness in masques including The Masque of Flowers, and plays like Robert Greene's Alphonsus, respectively; Shakespeare's The Tempest combines elements of East and West into a new sound — &ldquosomething; rich and strange.” These dramatic entertainments suggest that the theater, as much as a foreign land, can function as a sonic contact zone.

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