Universität Erfurt

Projekt von Prof. Dr. Duane Corpis

Prof. Dr. Duane Corpis

Contested Clamor: Histories of Pre-lndustrial Noise in Early Modern Germany

The early modern city was to a significant extent an acoustic landscape, what scholars in the field of sound studies have recently called a “soundscape.” Sound and noise played an integral role in constructing social, political, and religious relationships, solidarities, differences, hierarchies, and conflicts in early modern society, and noise complaints reveal multiple layers of social differences. My project studies sounds that registered as noise because their effects were unpredictable, jarring, dissonant, or disruptive of social, political, and confessional order. Thinking of early modern noise in these terms raises many questions. Can we determine how different subjects Protestants versus Catholics, elites versus commoners, women versus men, local residents versus foreigners listened to their quotidian environment? How did the soundscapes produced by differing social groups come into conflict or forge communal solidarity? And how did authorities attempt to mediate, control, or regulate noise and noise complaints? With the Herzog-Ernst-Stipendium, I will divide my five months into examining the extensive holdings of the Gotha Research Library focusing on the following types of sources: published ordinances regulating urban social life, hunting manuals delineating the use of drums and horns as signaling devices, wartime accounts of battles and sieges, military instructions manuals for the proper use of guns and cannons, travel literature describing foreign soundscapes, and Gotha’s extensive collection of occasional writings dealing with courtly celebrations and other events where music, fireworks, and the noise of crowds could be heard.

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