Ballad Colloquium 2013-2014

This three-quarter colloquium involves a series of 9 (mostly Skype) lectures by graduate students and junior scholars of English Literature and History who have incorporated broadside ballads from the 16th to the 19th centuries into their dissertations.

Presentations will be informal and designed to answer questions that address generally the challenges of defining the topic and the parameters of a dissertation as well as how introducing popular print changes, enhances or productively “disturbs” one's perspective. Some presenters who have already filed their dissertations will further address strategies for turning a dissertation into a publishable book. In some cases, speakers may ask us to read an article in advance of their presentation, but generally little prior work will be required before the talk and there are no requirements for the course other than attendance and participation. You may sign up for the course quarterly. The nine presentations listed below will all occur on a Friday, in the EMC, from 1 pm. to 2:30 pm (with the exception of Simone Chess's presentation on February 7 which begins at 12:30pm).


September 27: Introductory BRIEF Meeting

October 11: Jessica Murphy

(PhD UCSB: now assistant professor at UT-Dallas; Conduct literature and feminine virtue, with a chapter on ballads)

I will be talking about how important it is to take advantage of the strengths of the graduate program you are in as you formulate your dissertation and work through it. Because I see an exaggerated version of it with my PhD students, I can appreciate even more just how important it was for me to have a group of professors to work with and a center that supported my work. EBBA is, of course, one of those very important strengths, and I'll be talking a little bit about how they would benefit from incorporating a bit into their research now. I think it is easy to lose sight of how special something is when you're in it.

October 25: Matthew Smith, "Historicizing Devotion in Pop-Ballad Culture—Godly Ballads and Dr. Faustus"

(PhD USC; now assistant professor at Azusa Pacific; Religion and women, with a chapter on ballads) - Matt will appear in person for his presentation

The topics I'd like to cover include:

- Are godly ballads a serious religious genre?

- How ballads can help us historicize religious culture.

- Using ballads in reception history of drama.

November 8: Una McIlvenna, “Researching, Writing and Performing European Execution Ballads”

(PhD London; now postdoctoral research fellow at University of Sydney, Australia; Public execution ballads, 1500-1800, European as well as English)

I'll talk about how and why I came up with the idea of doing a project on ballads about execution in four European languages (it was all highly strategic). Then the issues I've faced and the obstacles I have (or haven't yet) overcome in doing so, including the pitfalls and rewards of doing an intensely interdisciplinary study (ie talking about music without having any musical training). I'll talk about the general response I've received from readers and listeners to my talks, and about the criticisms that I've received from readers of my work, as I think they should be relevant to many people intending to write about balladry.

January 17: Leanna McLaughlin, “Poetick Rage to Rage of Party: English Political Verse, 1678-1689”

(PhD candidate UC-Riverside; Politics in pamphlets and ballads of 1680s)

Leanna McLaughlin is a doctoral candidate in History Department with a specialization in late seventeenth-century British politics at the University of California-Riverside under the tutelage of Thomas Cogswell. Her research interests include political culture, communication of political ideologies, and systemic political change. More specifically, her dissertation examines the role that political verse (poetry, songs, ballads, etc.) played in the development of political partisanship, its influence on popular opinion, and how the confluence of both resulted in political revolution. She has been aided in her endeavors to uncover understudied manuscript political poetry on two continents by fellowships from the University of California-Riverside Center for Ideas and Society, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and from the Huntington Library. She has also been fortunate to present her ideas and findings to the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies several times, and to an interdisciplinary collaboration on material culture between the University of California and Cambridge University’s CRASSH. Her presentation there is included in the upcoming publication Things: Material Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century as a result of that conference.

February 7, special start time 12:30pm: Simone Chess, “Male to Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature” (dissertation turned book-project)

(PhD UCSB; now assistant professor at Wayne State University; Male cross-dressing with discussions of ballads)

Please note: this session begins at 12:30pm instead of 1pm

As a UCSB graduate, I worked several years on the English Broadside Ballad Archive. Though my book project has no specific chapter on ballads, there are several discussions of ballads alongside other works. The one that comes to mind right away is from my Crossdressing and Queer Heterosexuality chapter. It might be of interest to students to hear about how using non-canonical texts, including ballads, has aligned with my larger attempts at a methodology of using potentially ahistorical and even presentist queer models to talk about the early modern period.

February 28: Angela McShane, "The Political World of the Broadside Ballad in Seventeenth Century England" (dissertation turned book-project)

(PhD Warwick; now Senior Tutor and Head of Renaissance and Early Modern Postgraduate Studies in History of Design, V&A/Royal College of Art; Political ballads, 1640-1689)

This presentation will focus on how a social and cultural historian, interested in popular politics and material culture of the everyday, came to the topic - and challenge - of using broadside ballads as a source for social and political history in England's revolutionary century, and convincing other historians that they can offer insights we cannot get elsewhere!

In preparation for the session, I would like students to take a look at the attached articles:

Angela McShane, "Recruiting Citizens for Soldiers in Seventeenth-Century English Ballads," Journal of Early Modern History 15 (2011): 105-137.

Angela McShane, "Revealing Mary," History Today March 2004


May 2: Katie Brokaw, "From Tudor Musical Theater to Staging Harmony: a project's journey from dissertation to book manuscript"

(PhD Michigan; currently assistant professor, UC-Merced; song and performance)

I will be talking about the process of, hopefully, finishing a book manuscript that came out of my dissertation. Ballads are one of many musical forms considered, and I could (and to some extent) will talk about my specific use of them in both versions of the work. But I will focus on the practical matters of writing about music more generally, writing inter-disciplinarily, making the transition from diss to MS, marketing one's project, etc. (This project deals with Music, Theater, Religion, and Popular Culture.)

May 9: Mark Hailwood, “Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England” (dissertation turned book-project)”

(PhD Warwick; now Lecturer, Cambridge; Alehouses, sociability and popular culture, including ballads)

One key theme I will talk about is the challenges, pros and cons of trying to write a dissertation or book that appeals across disciplinary/sub-disciplinary boundaries: I was trained first and foremost as a social historian, and planned to use legal archival sources for a study of the alehouse, but when I came across good fellowship ballads -- via EBBA, in fact -- I really wanted to try and incorporate these sources into my analysis. So now the book tries to incorporate social history, cultural history and literary studies approaches, and does so, I think, with mixed success. So I'm happy to talk about issues of audience and how to situate yourself with regards to disciplinary boundaries, and also the value of digital resources such as EBBA - and anything else that your class is looking for specific comments on.

May 30: Eric Nebeker

(PhD UCSB; currently assistant director of EBBA); Ballads and the literary tradition