From the beginning of Shaw's career as a publishing playwright, he struggled to imprint the sound of his characters' speech on the page. Convinced that the Roman alphabet was incapable of delivering crucial paralinguistic information to actors and readers, Shaw hoped that the new manual and mechanical phonographic writing technologies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would serve as more satisfactory mediums for his “word-music.” Drawing on media history and theory, the author argues that Shaw's actual and imagined uses of phonetic shorthands and sound recording devices as theatrical media mark his drama, his dramaturgy, and his vision of the author-actor relationship as products of the modern machine age. While Shaw sometimes indulged in the techno-fantasy of a gramophone-like actor who would mechanically reproduce his authorial inscriptions, the author contends that the ideal Shavian actor is both a talking machine and an exceptionally vital human being. The author reads Pygmalion, along with Shaw's writings on dramatic authorship and acting, as critical meditations on the complex processes and mixed consequences of conceptualizing spoken language, its notation, and its performance as mere data.
Shaw's perspective is Bernard Shaw and his milieu. As "his life, work, and friends"—the subtitle to a biography of G.B.S.—indicates, it is impossible to study the life, thought, and work of a major literary figure in a vacuum. Issues and people, economics, politics, religion, theater, and literature and journalism—the entirety of the two half centuries the life of G.B.S. spanned—was his assumed province. Shaw publishes general articles on Shaw and his milieu, reviews, notes, and the authoritative Continuing Checklist of Shaviana, the bibliography of Shaw studies. Every other issue is devoted to a special theme.
Part of the Pennsylvania State University and a division of the Penn State University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, Penn State University Press serves the University community, the citizens of Pennsylvania, and scholars worldwide by advancing scholarly communication in the core liberal arts disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. The Press unites with alumni, friends, faculty, and staff to chronicle the University's life and history. And as part of a land-grant and state-supported institution, the Press develops both scholarly and popular publications about Pennsylvania, all designed to foster a better understanding of the state's history, culture, and environment.