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TALK: Tom Pettitt, “The Ballad, the Broadside, and the Broadside Ballad: A Biography of ‘The Berkshire Tragedy'”
October 13, 2016 @ 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
“THE BALLAD, THE BROADSIDE, AND THE BROADSIDE BALLAD: A BIOGRAPHY OF “THE BERKSHIRE TRAGEDY”
Both inspired by the English Broadside Ballad Archive project and provoked by its recent “The Making of a Broadside Ballad”, the talk will offer a sustained meditation on the intersection of the ballad as a cultural product (a significant feature of the English-speaking world’s intangible heritage), with the broadside as a technology (central to England’s early-modern media ecology).
Its commentary will be from the perspective of Tom Pettitt’s own endeavours to explore and appreciate the vernacular performance cultures of late-medieval and Renaissance England (songs, tales, customs, drama), including their interaction with commercial and elite cultures, and their survival as folklore. The topic will be made concrete by considering the ‘birth’ of a particular broadside ballad (“The Berkshire Tragedy”) in the conjunction of metalized text and pulped textiles, and its dual career thereafter as both perdurable artefact and performance tradition. The latter, persisting deep into the twentieth century (for example among English and Scottish Gypsies), supplementary to its independent interest, may offer viable retrospective avenues of approach to the broadside ballad from which it derived.
Tom Pettitt is an affiliate Research Professor with the Cultural Sciences Institute and the Centre for Medieval Literature at the University of Southern Denmark. Most of his ballad studies, out of which this presentation emerges, are accessible at https://southerndenmark.academia.edu/ThomasPettitt/Ballad. The illustrative material for the talk is now accessible below and will also be made available as handouts at the talk.
SH 2635: 3PM
Reception to follow in the Sankey Room (South Hall 2623).