Author: Lam, Hedy
Publication details: Cultural Histories of Noise, Sound and Listening in Europe, 1300-1918, edited by Kirsten Gibson and Ian Biddle, 111-126. London: Routledge, 2017.
Abstract: For Robert Darnton this nursery rhyme bears witness to the fact that the early modern city was noisy. Dogs barked; peddlers shouted; beggars sang. But what interests him most about this nursery rhyme is that it is a written trace of an oral culture. Like other vernacular tales, nursery rhymes stand the test of time and echo the early modern soundworld. In an age before the invention of sound recording technology, this soundworld is often taken to be a lost world. But sometimes, bits and pieces of this lost world can be retrieved. Talking and writing criss-crossed at times and formed nodes of a complex circuit of communication.