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Oxford City

Broadside Day 2017

Organised by the EFDSS and Traditional Song Forum, in 2017 the Broadside Day was hosted by the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and featured a talk from Dr. Alexandra Franklin from the Department of Special Collections, along with a display of street literature from the library’s collections.

Papers included:

Alexandra Franklin
The Bodleian Library’s collections of street literature
A look at some of the special collection of street literature held at the Bodleian Library

Street Literature 101: A Brief Introduction to the Field
A short introduction to street literature: the forms, the content, the sellers, and the buyers.

Peter Smith
‘A Warning Take By Me’ - The Urban Hazard Ballad of the 19th Century
In the nineteenth century the industrial ballad became increasingly popular, often marking significant events for organised labour. But there also emerged a fresh strain chronicling hazards and adventures, usually of someone arriving into the urban environment from the country.  Here, then, is found one of the more nuanced changes in the ballads – the country dweller, new to the city, who is almost always the innocent abroad, preyed upon by the denizens of the city. Through this metaphor for the usurping of the traditional rural way of life, it may be possible to trace changes in the collective imaginary, showing how working people’s internal lives were altered by their external circumstances.

Sue Allan
Penurious poets and ballad-mongers: some nineteenth century ballad singers and sellers in Cumberland and Westmorland
We know much more about the broadside ballads of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries than the men, and sometimes women, who sold and sang them on the streets and at markets and fairs. However, Cumbrian dialect poetry offers some tantalising glimpses of ‘the discordant strains of the ballad-singer’ at local fairs, while ballad-maker, vendor and singer Jimmy Dyer of Carlisle looms large in the later nineteenth century: ‘fiddle and I, wandering by, over the world together.’

Bob Askew
Robin Hood Ballads sung in the Community
The famous character of Robin Hood has been found in some of the earliest collections of printed ballads (including the Pepys and Roxburghe collections), and also in singing traditions across England, Scotland and Wales. This paper will explore the Robin Hood ballads that were sung in the community (with particular focus on variants collected in Hampshire) and the related texts found in historical broadsides and garlands.
Genevieve Adeline
Competing narratives of crime and punishment in Victorian Street literature
This paper will present the contrasting perspectives on the nature of crime and punishment presented in Victorian street literature, and put forward a socio-historical explanation for the differing narratives.

Alexandra McGlynn
'He said that I am the way:' 21st century street preachers
The concentration of people in cities present opportunities for listening to a broad spectrum of street sound and rhythm in the spoken word.  This includes buskers, preachers on high streets, people shouting and demonstrators.  In addition, Evangelical street preachers often give away literature and wear printed t-shirts that consolidates the spoken message.  They are the vanguard of rhetoric.  The street preacher narratives often contain references to folk heroes and their photographic representation.

Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
The Beginning, Progress and End of Man as an interactive text
This presentation will explore the interactive aspects of a broadside called The Beginning, Progress and End of Man, the earliest known edition being 1650. This broadside consists of a four or five-part strip of woodcut images with verse printed on accordion folds flaps that can be lifted up or down. Together they relay a combination of religious, moral, and other conventional material.

The text was republished on occasion in Britain in the 18th and 19th century, in Germany in the late 19th century, and also travelled to America in the late 18th century. The text found its way into 19th century English and German chapbooks for the amusement of young persons, under the title: Metamorphosis; or a Transformation in Pictures with Poetical Explanations. During the same time span, homemade versions were made as domestic activities in England and in America.

Due to the design of movable flaps the broadside is an interactive text that can be read in different ways, both with the grain and against the grain of the didactic material. The presentation will explore some of the playful possibilities enabled by the interactive format.

David Atkinson
Eighteenth-century ballad printing: standing type and the Dicey/Marshall Berkshire Tragedy
This paper addresses eighteenth-century ballad printing by looking at different printings of the same ballad, The Berkshire Tragedy, from the same bookseller/printer, the Dicey/Marshall firm, which was the major producer of ballads in London throughout the mid-century. The results are rather startling and pose questions about how many ballads, relationships between different bookseller/printers, proof-reading, and intellectual property rights. All of these things impact on the idea of ballad transmission and dissemination during a period for which the available evidence is overwhelmingly of ballads in print. In the nineteenth century, The Berkshire Tragedy gave rise to another broadside ballad, The Cruel Miller, which was widely collected once the folk song movement got under way at the end of the century.

Oxford Contemporary Music
British Broadsides; with Sam Lee, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann
A short presentation by Lisa Knapp, Sam Lee, and Nathaniel Mann, to launch this new project commissioned by Oxford Contemporary Music and Sound UK. Evening concert at 7.30pm at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford OX1 3SD, with a special advance ticket price of £10/£7 for those attending the Broadside Day.


Organised by the English Folk Dance & Song Society and The Traditional Song Forum. Supported by the Bodleian Library.