Academic journal article Parergon

Wittek, Stephen, the Media Players: Shakespeare, Middleton, Jonson, and the Idea of News

Academic journal article Parergon

Wittek, Stephen, the Media Players: Shakespeare, Middleton, Jonson, and the Idea of News

Article excerpt

Wittek, Stephen, The Media Players: Shakespeare, Middleton, Jonson, and the Idea of News, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2015; paperback; pp. 166; 3 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. US$34.95; ISBN 9780472052813.

In The Media Players, Stephen Wittek argues that the 'unique discursive space created by commercial [early modern] theater helped to foster the conceptual framework that made news possible' (p. 1). He goes on to describe the abstract concept of news as an 'ephemeral, narratively structured, ostensibly truthful discourse standing in relation to a continuous, public present' (p. 1). Wittek relies upon an evolved version of Jurgen Habermas's public sphere theory to make his case, seeing drama as one of many 'cultural forms'. Others include 'ballads, manuscript newsletters, printed news pamphlets, and so on', which shared discursive topics, and which created a new way in which to view the world (p. 16).

The main body of the book is divided into four chapters. The first describes the interconnected relationship between the fledgling commercial theatres and print news industry, defines what news is, explains public sphere theory, and ultimately argues that print news created a public that wanted to be informed, but who were sceptical of the ephemeral nature of a 'truth' reliant upon constant updates. …

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