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Master Thesis

Child Ballads in the Post-War British Folk Revival

Abstract : When folk singers (re)acquainted themselves with the traditional folksongs of their (real or imagined) forefathers after the Second World War, they picked up—along with occupational songs, sea shanties or broadside ballads—what were still called “Child ballads”. When Professor Francis James Child had anthologized them in the second half of the nineteenth century in his English and Scottish Popular Ballads, he had cemented the notion of popular ballad and opened a fertile field of research to emerging folklorists. In spite of detractors, his collection and views were to retain considerable authority, and these ballads remained the works of particular nobility he had established them to be within the folk repertoire (being considered “literary” and ancient) when they were picked up by revivalists. From the collections of Thomas Percy (Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 1765) and his predecessors to the folk rock scene of the 1960s and 1970s, Child ballads have reflected a certain idea of tradition, and in particular of “popular” and “oral” tradition and creation, fluctuating as they are taken up by successive generations, by collectors, readers, singers, and audiences, conveying fantasies, manifestations of the subconscious and social values, and connecting the individual to the community. This essay traces back the notion of “popular” or “traditional ballad” from the eighteenth century onwards and analyzes in particular the concept and place of Child ballads within the post-war British folk revival, in a repertoire now shared, now divided between scholars, “source singers” and revivalists.
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Master Thesis
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 22, 2021 - 11:52:24 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 11, 2022 - 3:42:42 AM
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  • HAL Id : dumas-03500463, version 1



Blanche Saphores. Child Ballads in the Post-War British Folk Revival. Literature. 2021. ⟨dumas-03500463⟩



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