E 379S • Senior Seminar
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
A ballad is a song that tells a story. Ballads "in oral tradition" are one kind of folksong: that is, they were commonly heard, learned, and sung by ordinary men, women, and children in the course of everyday activities centered in work, in play, in ritual, or in general social interaction. In much of English-speaking Britain and North America, the unselfconscious, informal, amateur singing of songs--including ballads--in the contexts of courtship, child-rearing, making-a-living, celebrating ritual occasions, dealing psychologically with life-crises, or in any kind of task-centered or leisure time communal activity was ubiquitous up to the later years of the nineteenth century; from that time on, folksongs began more and more to be superseded by professionally produced, packaged, and disseminated "pop" songs that were listened to avidly but which seldom entered the repertoires of ordinary people for performance in the course of living ordinary life. In this senior seminar we take an in-depth look at the Anglo-American oral traditional ballad, both as a formal way of telling-a-story-in-sung-verse and as a meaningful, functional kind of social discourse.
One 4-5-page prospectus for a research paper; a revision of that prospectus in accordance with instructors comments on content, grammar, and writing style of the first version; one 10-page research paper, and a final exam
Final exam 35%
Attendance is mandatory. More than five absences will be grounds for failure.