Not since Shakespeare’s death has interest in the audio-visual been greater than at the present. From about the mid sixteenth century, with a broad advance in literacy, the mass-produced book steadily took on a dominant role as an instrument, and perhaps the highest achievement, of European culture. Theatrical works survived more as printed texts than in a performance tradition: print was regarded as superior to speech. But in the twentieth century advances in audiovisual technology have combined to shift the balance away from print towards audio-visual cultural forms. Recorded sound has enabled us to hear how past performers sounded instead of having to rely on printed descriptions of their delivery; and film and video permit us to store images of how they looked and spoke.
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