The printed ballad in Ireland: a guide to the popular printing of songs in Ireland 1760-1920
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This thesis is concerned with the survival, influence and scholarly use of songs printed cheaply in Ireland, from the beginnings of the trade in the middle 18th century until its decline in the early 20th. It aims to make songs printed on ballad sheets and in small (8-page) song books accessible to students of history and cultural studies, to survey trade practices and their history, judge the influence such songs exerted upon the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and actions of 'ordinary' people and to assess how such materials have been used as evidence, presenting a range of methods whereby the songs may be questioned. The thesis is organised in four parts with a prefatory section setting out problems and discussing definitions. The first part presents a guide to all the known collections in Ireland and to the most significant in Britain, and lists their contents. The listing approaches a comprehensive survey of the corpus. The second section considers trade practices, production and distribution, and examines the careers of some of the personnel. The third outlines the nature of the oral song culture into which songs were introduced, how trade considerations conditioned what was produced; describes interactions between songs and the people and considers the effects of literacy and how the form and language of certain songs militated against their absorption. Finally in this section attempts are made to gauge the influence of the ballad trade upon the oral tradition and how the ballad trades of Britain and Ireland interacted. The last part discusses a range of methods of using ballads in historical and cultural study and exemplifies them using a range of case studies. It also assesses the state of scholarly study of the ballad trade and scholarly use of ballads as evidence in Ireland, Britain and North America.
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