The Spoken Word: Oral Culture in Britain, 1500-1850 by Adam Fox, Daniel Woolf

By Adam Fox, Daniel Woolf

Past experiences on oral tradition have frequently emphasised the contradictions among oral and literate tradition, and focussed on person international locations or areas. The essays during this interesting assortment go away from those ways in different methods. by means of studying not just English, but additionally Scottish and Welsh oral tradition, they supply the 1st pan-British learn of the topic. The authors additionally emphasize the ways that oral and literate tradition endured to go with and tell one another, instead of focusing solely on their incompatibility, or at the 'inevitable' triumph of the written note.

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It could be argued that another feature of the ever-greater spread of an English-dominated literary production in Britain over the course of the early modern period was to marginalise the culture of ‘peripheral’ regions, or the ‘provinces’, as defined from a metropolitan or civic perspective. Large parts of Wales and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, what Londoners often referred to dismissively as the ‘dark corners of the land’, were by virtue of their separate languages, geographical isolation and many other features of economic and cultural difference, thrown into even greater relief by their exclusion from an encroaching anglicization.

His method was not only to travel through Wales and the Highlands of Scotland collecting ancient manuscripts and interviewing native speakers in order to compile catalogues of these tongues, but also to gather information by questionnaires sent out to informants in the localities. ’ he asked. ‘What names of men and women uncommon? 103 So it was, therefore, that print could feed into the oral repertoire helping to invent and refashion elements within it, and, in turn, an antiquarian interest in the folk traditions of the people became increasingly concerned to enshrine aspects of these vernacular cultures in writing.

After the Reformation of 1560, the Scottish Kirk adopted a strategy of attempting to inculcate true doctrine among its semi-literate peoples by employing and appropriating the genres of popular culture such as music and drama, iconography and cheap print. As noted above, it was an endeavour common to many religious reformers across Europe, and Alexandra Walsham explores another manifestation of it in the English context in her contribution to this volume (Chapter 6). Thus the Gude and Godlie Ballets were actively disseminated in an effort, as the expanded edition of 1621 made plain, to replace the indigenous stock of ‘prophane sanges’ with a new repertoire of ‘godlie sangis for avoyding of sin and harlatry’.

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