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She Said, He Said: Situated Oralities in Judicial Records from Early Modern Rome

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Abstract In practice, early modern culture was for most Europeans more oral than written. Yet spoken words, especially those of ordinary people, are, for scholars, tantalizingly elusive. Testimonies, recorded verbatim, in judicial proceedings for the city of Rome and other Italian jurisdictions offer rich repositories of oral expression uttered by women and men of diverse ages and social positions. Yet to explore these documents as terrains of speech and oral culture, we must attend closely to the processes by which these words were assembled and transcribed. Everyday talk that we hear in the trials was deeply situated: in the intricate hybridity of oral/written cultures that characterized much of the early modern world; in the layered oral and written formats of judicial process; and in the social and gendered circumstances of the speakers. These frames shaped the orality that we see in the trials, but did not obliterate individual agency in speech.

Affiliations: 1: York University (Toronto)


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