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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Spring 2004

ANT 325L • Anglo-American Folk Song-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
26745 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
PAR 301

Course Description

This course introduces students to the poetic rather than the musical side of the British and Anglo North American folksong repertoire--that is, songs traditionally sung by ordinary men, women, and children in the course of everyday activities, whether centered in work, leisure, ritual, cultural transmission, or any kind of social interaction fulfilling human needs. Singing in the context of day-to-day life, private as well as public, was common up to the early years of this century, by which time it had for the most part been superseded by professionally produced, packaged, and disseminated songs meant for consumption rather than for use. Songs that accompanied work, play, celebration, or revolt; that expressed heightened emotions evoked by life crises involving courtship, economic hardship, dangerous enterprises, or indeed any kind of struggle; that recounted tales of dramatic events from the outside world which touched the lives of everyone (natural disasters, war, crime)--these were the typical kinds of songs that dominated the tastes of anglophone British, Canadian, and American domestic singers for centuries.

The course is divided into two parts, each part taking up roughly half a semester. In the first part, we?ll engage primarily in description and identification of folksong textual conventions: after introducing the concept of folklore in general (folksong is just one kind of folklore), we examine in some detail the traditional and recurring ways Anglo-American folksong typically articulate and depict their subject matter. In the semester?s second half we?ll become more analytical and interpretive: we?ll look at case studies of individual songs or groups of related songs that ask such questions as, what sorts of adaptations occur when a song crosses different historical periods and cultural milieux? What values and beliefs do songs transmit to their singers and listeners? What kinds of social and psychological functions do they serve in their natural contexts-of-use?


Course packet at Speedway Publishing, Dobie Mall. Also recommended is a writer?s handbook as reference work for Standard Written English mechanics. Any one will do.


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