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The Pursuit of Style in Early Modern Drama examines how early modern plays celebrated the power of different styles of talk to create dynamic forms of public address. Across the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, London expanded into an uncomfortably public city where everyone was a stranger to everyone else. The relentless anonymity of urban life spurred dreams of its opposite: of being a somebody rather than a nobody, of being the object of public attention rather than its subject. Drama gave life to this fantasy. Presented by strangers and to strangers, early modern plays codified different styles of talk as different forms of public sociability. Then, as now, to speak of style was to speak of a fantasy of public address. Offering fresh insight for scholars of literature and drama, Matthew Hunter reveals how this fantasy – which still holds us in its thrall – played out on the early modern stage.
The book’s Afterword turns from style to aesthetic judgment, considering how aesthetic judgments do not simply serve to hierarchize styles or render verdicts of approvement or opprobrium. Rather, aesthetic judgments are what allow us to see styles as styles; they are subjective projections on objective forms of aesthetic coherence. It is such interplay between the subjective and the objective that makes both style and judgment into important forms of humanistic knowledge.
Irregular in its rhythms, inventive in diction, and rebarbatively directed against some hapless target, tough talk flourishes in verse satires of the period before making its way onto the stage, enjoying special prominence in Ben Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour and John Marston’s Malcontent. In these plays no less than in the poems that precede them, tough talk remedies the alienation of public life in a crucial respect: Through its insistently corporeal language, tough talk gives a virtual body to a public that, as an imaginary entity, necessarily has none of its own. Because it compels vicarious identification by attacking people for their absurdities of comportment, tough talk is a style, but it is also the denuded expression of that judgment we recognize as taste. The vicarious relationship that tough talk, as judgment and style, coordinates between absent witness and present speaker finds its surprising culmination in the figure of the celebrity, a figure of taste whose insistent embodiment likewise invites vicarious identification from a bodiless public, often through pointedly antagonistic means. Early modernity’s great emblem of celebrity is Mary “Moll” Frith, the outspoken, cross-dressing pickpocket who found herself depicted as the outspoken protagonist of The Roaring Girl.
“Love talk” names that style of talk that is only too familiar to scholars of the early modern period: Heavily sonorous, rich in modifiers, and overflowing with figures of physical dissolution, love talk is a style marked above all by cliché. The last of these figures have posed a burden to critics of Romeo and Juliet, who have sought to recover Shakespeare’s tragedy from the deadening grip of the cliché. In so doing, they have suppressed the play’s self-conscious embrace of the cliché. This chapter argues that Romeo and Juliet is a script for following scripts of love. The tragedy shows how love enlists the most publicly circulated linguistic forms so that it might be experienced as a private, self-generated, and formless event. The seduction of this script is thus its central contradiction: Love is an experience that extricates the lover from the social by immersing the lover so completely within its forms that they may be forgotten. Love-talk is central to this dialectic. The style’s insistent, even unbearable artifice recalls earlier love stories for the present one to follow. It also turns Romeo and Juliet itself into another such story for audiences to follow in turn.
Stage talk is a style that makes theater out of one’s own mastery of talk by generating a density of formal coherence in place of the messiness that ordinary conversation entails. As Erving Goffman has proposed, “[e]very transmission … is necessarily subject to ‘noise.’” In conversation, this noise manifests as interruptions, overlaps, false starts, rewinds, and other influencies. And yet we manage to filter out such static as extraneous to the conversation at hand, often with such success that we might be surprised to discover their inclusion in a transcript of what we had just experienced. Stage talk aestheticizes the idealization of form that subtends representations of speech: It purifies the noise that defines ordinary talk – interruptions, false starts, gaffes are gone – in order to impart utterance a conspicuous poetic coherence. The actor who delivers this language to audiences assembled at a playhouse constitutes the early modern period’s animating fantasy of publicness, which is the fantasy that a style of talk can turn one from a stranger into a spectacle for other strangers to imitate.
Court talk is not the style that early modern courtiers use to speak to one another. It is an ersatz substitute for that style, an outsider’s fantasy about insider talk. Taken from conduct manuals, prose romances, poems, and plays, court talk is an overdone approximation of how courtiers are imagined to speak. Tracking the efflorescence of this style, this chapter turns to the still-neglected plays of John Lyly, which sell to their audiences the fantasy that their highly decorated style was the argot of the Elizabethan court. It is a fantasy that prompts aspirants from the period to weave Lyly’s style into their own conversations, even though it is only an exaggerated version, an erudite caricature, of the way Elizabethan barons and lords actually spoke. The failure of court talk to approximate courtliness is exactly what makes it into a synecdoche for a burgeoning social imaginary that I call the courtly public sphere. Through its relentless isocola, court talk expresses what Lauren Berlant might call the “cruel optimism” of this social imaginary: the emptiness of its promise of belonging, and the impossibility of ever letting that promise go.
Celebrated as one of the foundational stylistic achievements of early modernity, plain talk is characterized primarily in terms of what it is not: not conspicuous, not decorated, not Latinate, not complicated. Plain talk is the most unmarked style imaginable. Scholars have generally consulted written works like Bacon’s essays for examples of this paradoxically styleless style, but this chapter turns to drama because drama stages the effects that the plain style has – or was hoped to have – on others. In city comedies like Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour, Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid at Cheapside, and John Marston’s Dutch Courtesan, plain talk projects a speaker who is, or seems to be, in public exactly as they are in private. But there is also a palpable anxiety that swirls around dramatic depictions of plain talk. It is a style that gains its full meaning and force from its relation to other styles. But it is also the result of plain talk’s distinguishing lack of distinguishing features. Brimming beneath any iteration of this unmarked style is the dread that it will go unremarked, lost in the anonymity of public life.
Blood glucose level (BGL) is routinely assessed by paramedics in the out-of-hospital setting. Most commonly, BGL is measured using a blood sample of capillary origin analyzed by a hand-held, point-of-care glucometer. In some clinical circumstances, the capillary sample may be replaced by blood of venous origin. Given most point-of-care glucometers are engineered to analyze capillary blood samples, the use of venous blood instead of capillary may lead to inaccurate or misleading measurements.
The aim of this prospective study was to compare mean difference in BGL between venous and capillary blood from healthy volunteers when measured using a capillary-based, hand-held, point-of-care glucometer.
Using a prospective observational comparison design, 36 healthy participants provided paired samples of blood, one venous and the other capillary, taken near simultaneously. The BGL values were similar between the two groups. The capillary group had a range of 4.3mmol/l, with the lowest value being 4.4mmol/l and 8.7mmol/l the highest. The venous group had a range of 2.7mmol/l, with the lowest value being 4.1mmol/l and 7.0mmol/l the highest.
For the primary research question, the mean BGL for the venous sample group was 5.3mmol/l (SD = 0.6), compared to 5.6mmol/l (SD = 0.8) for the capillary group. This represented a statistically significant difference of 0.3mmol/l (P = .04), but it did not reach the a priori established point of clinical significance (1.0mmol/l). Pearson’s correlation coefficient for capillary versus venous indicated moderate correlation (r = 0.42).
In healthy, non-fasted people in a non-clinical setting, a statistically significant, but not clinically significant, difference was found between venous- and capillary-derived BGL when measured using a point-of-care, capillary-based glucometer. Correlation between the two was moderate. In this context, using venous samples in a capillary-based glucometer is reasonable providing the venous sample can be gathered without exposure of the clinician to risk of needle-stick injury. In clinical settings where physiological derangement or acute illness is present, capillary sampling would remain the optimal approach.
We tested whether the presence of both child-targeted and nutrition-focused (i.e. parent-targeted) marketing cues on food packaging was associated with the nutritional content of these products.
We conducted a quantitative content analysis of 403 food packages chosen randomly from the supermarket’s online portal along with all products (n 312) from the cereal aisle in a supermarket from the Southeastern USA. We examined main and interaction effects for cues on nutritional content (e.g. energy density, sugar, sodium, fibre).
A regional supermarket chain in the Southeastern USA.
Tests of main effects indicated that increased presence of nutritional cues was linked to more nutritious content (e.g. less sugar, less saturated fat, more fibre) while the increased presence of child-targeted cues was uniformly associated with less nutritious content (e.g. more sugar, less protein, less fibre). Among the interaction effects, results revealed that products with increased nutrition-focused and child-targeted cues were likely to contain significantly more sugar and less protein than other products.
Products that seek to engage children with their packaging in the supermarket are significantly less nutritious than foods that do not, while product packages that suggest nutritional benefits have more nutritious content. More importantly, the study provides evidence that those products which try to engage both child and parent consumers are significantly less healthy in crucial ways (e.g. more sugar, less fibre) than products that do not.