This essay argues that Christopher St. German made tactical use of the dialogue form to cultivate a public in his print controversy with Thomas More on the subject of reform. Publishing in the early 1530s, More accused St. German of disseminating disgruntled speech in print absent a real constituency of speakers voicing such complaints. St. German countered More's critique by incorporating a dialogue between the characters Salem and Bizance that conflated the reading of his printed works with the speaking and sharing of their political concerns. Although the role of performance in early modern politics has long been recognized in connection to the theater and theatricality, St. German's work demonstrates that early print also invoked the bodily interactivity and iterability characteristic of performance in order to script readers’ use of the relatively new medium. St. German's Salem and Bizance dialogue thus prompted print readers to understand themselves as, and indeed to become, partisan members of a public speaking in and about the debate.
Provoking Performance: Printed Dialogue and Early Modern Publics in Christopher St. German's Salem and Bizance
Simone Waller; Provoking Performance: Printed Dialogue and Early Modern Publics in Christopher St. German's Salem and Bizance. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 September 2021; 51 (3): 431–451. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-9295016
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