Book Review: Chloe Kathleen Preedy. Aerial Environments on the Early Modern Stage: Theatres of the Air, 1576-1609. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022. 352 pp. ISBN 9780192843326. $115.00 hardback

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review


In a pointed corrective to Martin Heidegger, Luce Irigaray accused modern philosophy of fixing its gaze on the earth and “forgetting [the] air.” 1 No theatre historian that reads Chloe Kathleen Preedy’s bracing new study will commit the same oversight. With perspicacity and zeal, it illuminates the vital importance and surprisingly dramatic presence of the air in the open-air playhouses of the golden age of English drama. Despite the evident difficulty of rendering the imperceptible perceptible, Preedy shows how the theatre enacts the miracle of making the air perform through a combination of verbal cues and “acoustic, kinetic, olfactory, and visual prompts” (23), which the book analyses and reconstructs with acumen. Sifting through the copious aerial imagery of Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Middleton, the monograph connects this “aerographic” (8) impulse to the playwrights’ consciousness of writing for a theatre exposed to the vagaries of the elements and the perils of the urban atmosphere...
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Specialist publicationSpenser Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

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