Mudcat Café message #3992629 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166098   Message #3992629
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
16-May-19 - 11:13 AM
Thread Name: If you don't like ballads......
Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
Steve, thanks, looking forward to response, and have noted your reference.

In the meantime, via a bibliography of Child Studies by Atkinson, I have been reading an article from the Journal of Western Folklore (1988) by one Michael Bell called "No Borders to the Ballad Maker's Art": Francis James Child and the Politics of the People"

I'll quote what he says on Child and the word 'popular'.

"Child wishes to insure (SIC) that his readers do not confuse the common meaning of the word 'popular' with its scientific use. His 'popular' defines a specific constellation in which a whole community knows, wants and values the same things in the same ways, and he needs to make sure that the readers do not mistake his usage for one that would imply that popular culture was either the product or the exclusive possession of the poor. "

Bell suggests that Child used the term 'popular' because it was already linked to ballads when he became interested in them.

He raises the interesting point that Child must have known of the term 'folk' but did not use in connection with the ballads. He says that term also carried a load of baggage that Child would not have wanted to introduce into his discussion.

Aha, it seems the article may have first been published much earlier than the date suggested in the article I have. Mea culpa in that case.

Bell seems to find it amusing that Child basically regards the Renaissance as having signalled the beginning of the end for the ballad, regarding the period before this, starting from early medieval times as one without 'sober intellect' or 'sour national destinies'. He is basically pulling to pieces the outline of European history upon which Child's account is based. Not saying I agree with it all, just sharing the fact that (of course) such matters have been debated in the past and no doubt will be debated again in the future.