Sensory Experiences Seminar

Event Date: 
05 Dec 2019

6pm Montague Room, Senate House. You can register for the event here.

Rachel Willie (LJMU), 'Knowledge is increased especially by hearing, reading, and conferring’: Sensing words

In The Doctrine of the Sabbath (1595), Nicholas Bownde extols the virtues of meditating upon scripture; those who cannot read are encouraged to raise their children as readers as they will be able to read aloud to the illiterate household. Hearing words allowed the listener to commit words to memory and, while memory enabled people to have access to reading, meditation permitted them to reflect, digest and absorb the text. For Bownde, reading scripture without understanding was fruitless; hearing, reading, and conferring upon scripture increased knowledge while psalm-singing and prayer stirred the affections. This runs parallel with the ways in which many early modern sermons presented the need to hear sermons with an ear that was not muffled or stopped up. This paper seeks to address the relationship between reading, memory and books to show how the sensory experience of hearing text read aloud was perceived to be an enabler of cognition.

Recommended readings (which we'll circulate via email before the event if you don't have access to them): 

Cockayne, Emily. "Experiences of the Deaf in Early Modern England." The Historical Journal 46, no. 3 (2003): 493-510.

Bloom, Gina. "Fortress of the Ear: Shakespeare's Late Plays, Protestant Sermons, and Audience (Ch. 3)" of Voice in Motion: Staging Gender, Shaping Sound in Early Modern England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013: 111-59