‘Thou art like a punie-Barber (new come to the trade) thou pick’st our eares too deepe’
Barbery, earwax and snip-snaps
in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660

This chapter examines the barber's shop as a sound-marked, cultural site of acoustic performance and practice and investigates how ears were treated, entertained and abused in barbery settings. It focuses on the connections between the site specificity and the 'earwitness' of the theatre and the shop. Bruce Smith, Emily Cockayne, Wes Folkerth, David Garrioch and Bruce Johnson have drawn on soundscape theorists and the language of acoustemology to reconstruct the sound maps of the early modern past with reference to literary works. The chapter draws on the theory and historicity of these studies defining its own dramaturgical, and socially and medically situated acoustic field to uncover how barbery informed cultural conceptions of the early modern listening world. Early modern writers often characterize the excrement of the ear by its bitter taste. The chapter discusses its beneficial properties, which are portrayed by writers as secondary to the wax's execratory quality.

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