Wooden Os is a study of the presence of trees and wood in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries – in plays set within forests, in character dialogue, and in props and theatre constructions. Vin Nardizzi connects these themes to the dependence, and surprising ecological impact, of London’s commercial theatre industry on England’s woodlands, the primary resource required to build all structures in early modern England.
Wooden Os situates the theatre within an environmental history that witnessed a perceived scarcity of wood and timber that drove up prices, as well as statute law prohibiting the devastation of English woodlands and urgent calls for the remedying of a resource shortage that was feared would result in eco-political collapse. By considering works including Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, the revised Spanish Tragedy, and The Tempest, Nardizzi demonstrates how the “trees” within them were used in imaginative ways to mediate England’s resource crisis.
‘The first thing to strike the reader of this book is its awkwardly puzzling title, then the genuine pleasure, the intellectual curiosity and the precise reasoning and style with which it has been written and researched. Completely original in its outcome, this study is well rooted in recent and less recent scholarship about the English Renaissance and Shakespeare.’
‘Intriguing and innovative book… This is inventive work that draws on ecocriticism, object studies, and theatre history in the service of original readings of plays by Shakespeare, Thomas Kyd, and Robert Greens.’
‘Fascinating, detailed, and rigorous historical work, Nardizzi’s term “eco-materialism” promises to be a useful and necessary tool for advancing thought in eco-criticism, object oriented environs studies, and early modern historical and literary studies.’
"Wooden Os adds to the long-engrained critical history of early modern drama by magnifying the physical substance that most studies overlook: the woody matter of the stage itself. Investigating the ‘cultural pervasiveness of the material link between theatres and woodlands’ Nardizzi deftly employs an ecocritical methodology that examines (and frequently challenges) implied divisions between nature (trees) and culture (wood products)."
‘Fascinating book… Wooden Os offers important insights into an unexplored topic, with some good literary analysis along the way. At his best, we might say, Nardizzi helps us to see both the woods and the trees.’
‘Both factually grounded and ambitiously speculative, with solid roots in established scholarship but offering new branches, Wooden Os proves itself a worthy contribution to ongoing efforts to recover the environmental history of early modern England through readings of literature.’