Singing the News is the first study to concentrate on sixteenth-century ballads, when there was no regular and reliable alternative means of finding out news and information. It is a highly readable and accessible account of the important role played by ballads in spreading news during a period when discussing politics was treason. The study provides a new analytical framework for understanding the ways in which balladeers spread their messages to the masses. Jenni Hyde focusses on the melody as much as the words, showing how music helped to shape the understanding of texts. Music provided an emotive soundtrack to words which helped to shape sixteenth-century understandings of gendered monarchy, heresy and the social cohesion of the commonwealth. By combining the study of ballads in manuscript and print with sources such as letters and state records, the study shows that when their topics edged too close to sedition, balladeers were more than capable of using sophisticated methods to disguise their true meaning in order to safeguard themselves and their audience, and above all to ensure that their news hit home.
This is a significant book.
David Atkinson - Folk Music Journal
This series provides a forum for studies that consider the material forms of texts as part of an investigation into early modern English culture. The editors invite proposals of a multi- or interdisciplinary nature, and particularly welcome proposals that combine archival research with an attention to the theoretical models that might illuminate the reading, writing, and making of texts, as well as projects that take innovative approaches to the study of material texts, both in terms the kinds of primary materials under investigation, and in terms of methodologies. What are the questions that have yet to be asked about writing in its various possible embodied forms? Are there varieties of materiality that are critically neglected? How does form mediate and negotiate content? In what ways do the physical features of texts inform how they are read, interpreted and situated? Consideration will be given to both monographs and collections of essays. The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to:
-History of the book, publishing, the book trade, printing, typography (layout, type, typeface, blank/white space, paratextual apparatus)
-Technologies of the written word: ink, paper, watermarks, pens, presses
-Surprising or neglected material forms of writing
-Social space, context, location of writing
-Social signs, cues, codes imbued within the material forms of texts
-Ownership and the social practices of reading: marginalia, libraries, environments of reading and reception
-Codicology, palaeography and critical bibliography
-Production, transmission, distribution and circulation
-Archiving and the archaeology of knowledge
-Orality and oral culture
-The material text as object or thing