Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry

Overview

This is a new history and theory of British poetry between 1760 and 1830, focusing on the relationship between Romantic poetry and the production, circulation and textuality of ballads. By discussing the ways in which eighteenth-century cultural and literary researches flowed into and shaped key canonical works, Maureen McLane argues that romantic poetry's influences went far beyond the merely literary. Breathing new life into the work of eighteenth-century balladeers and antiquarians, she addresses the revival ...
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Overview

This is a new history and theory of British poetry between 1760 and 1830, focusing on the relationship between Romantic poetry and the production, circulation and textuality of ballads. By discussing the ways in which eighteenth-century cultural and literary researches flowed into and shaped key canonical works, Maureen McLane argues that romantic poetry's influences went far beyond the merely literary. Breathing new life into the work of eighteenth-century balladeers and antiquarians, she addresses the revival of the ballad, the figure of the minstrel, and the prevalence of a 'minstrelsy complex' in romanticism. Furthermore, she envisages a new way of engaging with romantic poetics, encompassing both 'oral' and 'literary' modes of poetic construction, and anticipates the role that technology might play in a media-driven twenty-first century. The study will be of great interest to scholars and students of Romantic poetry, literature and culture.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"From beginning to end, Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry offers pithy, witty, and productively thought-provoking formulations, along with novel perspectives and unexpected conjunctions of material."
- Angela Esterhammer, The Review of English Studies

"Meeting a book to think with is not an everyday occurrence: Maureen N. McLane's Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry is definitely one. I recommend it to folklorists who find disciplinary history intriguing or who have ever been smitten with the ballad or pondered the oral/written literary divide."
-Mary Ellen Brown, Journal of Folklore Research

"[A] major book on poetry is Maureen N. McLane's Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry. A deeply theoretical book, it is still accessible and even lighthearted. . . . [T]his book . . . has transformed the field and should be required reading....
Aware that poets, antiquarians, ethnographers, linguists, folklorists, and more consider ballads their property, she draws upon all and does an admirable job of sorting among them. Her mastery of her subject and method surface time after time, as when she repeatedly shows how editors produce ballads and yet demonstrates that with ballads "the radical authority of deep, extended, 'authentic' subjectivity" and "the elaborated authority of editorial objectivity" must always be considered together....
She brings to life literary rivalries, such as that between Scott and Hogg, and just to be sure this book cannot be mistaken for an old-fashioned ballad study, she gives in-depth treatment to Mungo Park's "Negro Song," styled an Afro-Scottish border ballad, and to "Cherokee Death Song." The paths she traces with them are too good to spoil by telling you; read the book."
-Paula R. Backscheider, Recent Studies In The Restoration And Eighteenth Century:SEL

"McLane has not only reimagined the study of both ballads and romanticism but has also set a high standard for balancing theoretical sophistication with writerly lucidity."
18th Century Scotland, Jeff Strabone, University of South Florida

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521349505
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2011
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Romanticism Series , #76
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Maureen N. McLane was educated at the Universities of Harvard, Oxford, and Chicago. She is the author of Same Life: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008) and Romanticism and the Human Sciences: Poetry, Population and the Discourse of the Species (Cambridge University Press, 2000; Paperback, 2006). She is also co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2008). A contributing editor at the Boston Review, she was for years the chief poetry critic of the Chicago Tribune, and her articles on poetry, contemporary fiction, teaching, and sexuality have appeared in many venues, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, American Poet, the Poetry Foundation website, The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, the Chicago Review, and the Harvard Review. In 2003 she won the National Book Critics Circle's Nona Balakian Award for Excellence in Book Reviewing, and in 2007 she was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the NBCC. She has taught at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, MIT, and the East Harlem Poetry Project, and is currently an Associate Professor in the English Department at NYU. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in jubilat, American Poet, The New Yorker, Slate, Canary, Circumference, A Public Space, American Letters and Commentary, The American Scholar, New American Writing, the Harvard Review, and Jacket. Her interests include contemporary poetry, British romanticism, balladry, historiography, psychoanalysis, anthropology, American studies and Scottish studies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

1 Dating orality, thinking balladry: of minstrels and milkmaids in 1771

2 How to do things with ballads: fieldwork and the archive in late-eighteenth-century Britain

3 Tuning the multi-media nation: minstrelsy of the Afro-Scottish border

4 How to do things with minstrels: poetry and historicity

5 Minstrelsy, or, Romantic poetry

6 Seven types of poetic authority circa 1800

7 British Romantic mediality and beyond: reflections on the fate of 'orality'

Conclusion: Thirteen (or more) ways of looking at a black bird: or, poiesis unbound

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