The 2005-2006 EMC theme is “Ballads, Broadsides, and Popular Culture.” Ballads and broadsides serve as a locus for further exploration of the major issues and tensions at work in attempts to define popular culture in the early modern period. This year’s theme will thus modulate between studying ballads and broadsides as popular cultural phenomena and examining the multiple and crucial facets of early modern popular culture itself.
This theme highlights the Early Modern Center’s English Broadside Ballad Archive. Especially germane to this theme, the project aims to digitize all extant ballads from 1500-1800. Current work is focused on fully mounting the Pepys Ballads online, thus making them widely available and accessible for the first time ever.
Each year the Early Modern Center and its affiliates organize a number of exciting courses and events around the yearly theme. Several early modern graduate and undergraduate courses will be in dialogue with this year’s theme, and the English Ballad Archive provides additional opportunity for ballads and broadsides to be incorporated into classes. The EMC will host a Fall colloquium on the theme as well a Spring undergraduate conference showcasing students’ work from participating courses throughout the year. This year’s theme has also inspired an exciting Winter conference, “Straws in the Wind: Ballads and Broadsides, 1500-1800,” to take place February 24-25 at UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.