“Placing Platform Culture in Nineteenth-Century American Life”

—Carolyn Eastman

“Thinking Together concludes with Carolyn Eastman’s deft assessment of the nine previous chapters, as she contextualizes nineteenth-century oral performance within broader historical trajectories that show the changing roles of Western audiences. ‘It is vital to recognize,’ she writes, ‘that the importance of audiences and public opinion had grown significantly by the era described here, and that these developments coincided with the gradual democratization of education, politics, print culture, and religion.’ These changing roles for audiences, Eastman argues, provided the substrate for innovations in genres of performance that expected audiences to reason logically and to respond sensorially, that prompted deliberative engagement, and that reinforced or challenged social norms. Interactions between speakers and audiences, between audience members, and across venues offer a crucial focus for present-day scholars who seek to understand what Eastman succinctly labels the ‘process-oriented aspect of the development of major American ideas'” (pp. 18-19).

Selected Bibliography on Oratory and Performance

Eastman, Carolyn. A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public After the Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Fox, Adam. Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500–1700. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Gustafson, Sandra M. Eloquence Is Power: Oratory and Public Performance in Early America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Looby, Christopher. Voicing America: Language, Literary Form, and the Origins of the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Pascoe, Judith. The Sarah Siddons Audio Files: Romanticism and the Lost Voice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011.

Portelli, Alessandro. The Text and the Voice: Writing, Speaking, and Democracy in American Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Wright, Tom F. Lecturing the Atlantic: Speech, Print, and an Anglo-American Commons, 18301870. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.