Theme Courses Theme Events Theme Links

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 Online English 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.

Ballads, Broadsides, and Popular Culture Courses

(Fall 2006) ENGL 105B Shakespeare: Later Plays (Undergraduate)
Texts Include: Troilus and Cressida All's Well That Ends Well Othello Antony and Cleopatra Pericles Cymbeline Two Noble Kinsmen

Ballads, Broadsides, and Popular Culture Events

(10/17/2008) A Brownbag Lunch with Thomas Pettitt
Friday, October 17, 2008, 12-2pm; SH 2635.

Renowned folklore and media studies scholar Thomas Pettitt (University of Southern Denmark) will present an informal talk on "Ballads before Broadsides" - all interested persons are invited to attend.

For more information on Thomas Pettitt, please visit his homepage.
(5/26/2006) Spring Undergraduate Conference

Friday, May 26, 2006, South Hall 2635, 1-4pm

1:00-1:15 Opening Remarks, Professor Robert Erickson

1:15-1:45 Arden of Tombstone
Viewing and Discussion with Sierra Christman,
Zia Isola’s Engl 157: English Renaissance Drama

1:45-2:00 “The Middle Passage Effect in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko
Susan Rosenfeld,
E. Heckendorn Cook’s Engl 102: English and American Literature from 1650-1789

2:00-2:15 BREAK

2:15-2:45 “The China Scene” from William Wycherley’s The Country Wife
Performance by: Danielle Allred, Luke Fretwell, Katie Desrochers, Niall Huffman, Stephanie Shenkman
Robert Erickson’s Engl 169: Restoration and Eighteenth Century Drama

2:45 Open Discussion

Reception to follow

(2/24/2006) Straws in the Wind: Ballads and Broadsides, 1500-1800
The Early Modern Center at the University of California Santa Barbara invites paper proposals for "Straws in the Wind: Ballads and Broadsides, 1500-1800," an interdisciplinary conference to be held at UCSB on February 24 and 25, 2006. Click Here to visit the conference webpage.
(11/21/2005) Frances Dolan Luncheon
Monday, November 21, 12:30-1:30, South Hall 2635

Frances Dolan, professor of English at UC-Davis, will be joining us for a luncheon on November 21st, 12:30-1:30. This event provides an excellent opportunity for graduate students to discuss Professor Dolan's work with her as well as to get advice about their own projects and her experience with the profession. Copies of her two books, Whores of Babylon: Catholicism, Gender, and Seventeenth-Century Print Culture (Cornell UP, 1999) and Dangerous Familiars: Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550-1700 (Cornell UP, 1994) are available in the Early Modern Center to read on site.

(11/18/2005) Fall Colloquium on Ballads, Broadsides, and Popular Culture
Friday, November 18, 1:00-5:00pm, South Hall 2635

Kari Boyd McBride (Women's Studies, University of Arizona), "Humanist Discourse Meets Popular Culture: The Misreading of Misogyny in Early Modern England"

The Woman Controversy of early modern England relied on a discourse about women that had been developed by humanist scholars of the late middle ages. Those humanist arguments seemed to argue for women's excellence and virtue but were often elaborate scholarly jokes, travesties of humanist discourse that demonstrated women's inferiority through the ironic and ultimately ridiculous display of rhetoric, argumentation, and biblical allusion. The early modern pamphlet debate about women relied on the very argumentative techniques and materials developed by late medieval scholars, but often (mis)used that discourse to argue earnestly for women's virtue. I suggest that early modern reliance on the inherited arguments can be fruitfully understood as a creative misreading of the humanist discourse.

Paula McDowell (English, Rutgers University), "Popular Culture and the Idea of 'Oral Tradition' in Eighteenth-Century Britain"

This paper examines the relationship between the modern conceptual categories of "popular culture," "oral culture," and "oral tradition." For most English authors in 1700, the phrase "oral tradition" would have first brought to mind a Catholic theological notion considered suspect by Protestants, and our modern idea of "oral culture" did not exist. While much recent scholarly work has been devoted to exploring the interface of oral and print cultures, this paper also works to historicize the concepts themselves. Specifically, I argue that eighteenth-century authors' reflection on (and nervousness about) the spread of print was a key factor in the shaping of the modern intellectual category of "oral culture." Whereas early eighteenth-century authors such as Jonathan Swift in A Tale of A Tub typically understood cheap print and popular oralities as on a continuum (associating both with vulgarity, sedition, dissent, and a lack of culture in the sense of refinement, learning, or taste) later eighteenth-century authors increasingly posited a distinct "oral tradition" at once antithetical to and threatened by print commerce. Select oral forms, such as certain types of ballads, would be reconceptualized as purer, more authentic forms under threat of contamination by the vulgar products of the press. Ironically, later eighteenth-century sympathetic reassessments of oral traditions and practices in fact have much in common with earlier phobic depictions: both are part of a historic coming-to-terms with the power and spread of print.

Followed by a panel of respondents with Patricia Fumerton, William Warner, Jessica C. Murphy, and Maggie Sloan.

This event is sponsored by the Early Modern Center, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, and the Departments of English, History, Music, and Women's Studies.

A selection of publications by Professors McBride and McDowell are available in the EMC to read on site.


Ballads, Broadsides, and Popular Culture Links

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