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Work and Play


In this seminar we will consider the representation of work and play in the folklore of the British Isles.

Seminar Questions

How are crafts and work represented in the folklore of the British Isles?

How are leisure activities represented in the folklore of the British Isles?

Required Reading

Brand, John, Observations on Popular Antiquities: Chiefly Illustrating the Origin of our Vulgar Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions, ed. Henry Ellis, 2 vols (London, 1813), Vol. 2, pp. 273-314.

Koch, Gertrand, 'Work and Professions', in Regina F. Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem, eds, A Companion to Folklore (Malden, MA, 2012), pp. 154-168.

Norman, Mark, Telling the Bees and Other Customs: The Folklore of Rural Crafts (Cheltenham, 2020) [Choose and read one chapter]

Further Reading

Evans, George Ewart, Ask the Fellows who Cut the Hay (London, 1962)

Evans, George Ewart, Horse Power and Magic (London, 1979)

Evans, George Ewart, The Crooked Scythe (London, 1993)

Evans, George Ewart, The Farm and the Village (London, 1975)

Evans, George Ewart, The Horse in the Furrow (London, 1960)

Evans, George Ewart, Where Beards Wag All: The Relevance of the Oral Tradition (London, 1970)

Henricks, Thomas S., Disputed Pleasures: Sport and Society in Preindustrial England (Westport, CT, 1991)

Hole, Christina, English Sports and Pastimes (London, 1949)

Kingshill, Sophia, and Jennifer Westwood, The Fabled Coast: Legends and Traditions from Around the Shores of Britain and Ireland (London, 2014)

Malcolmson, Robert W., Popular Recreations in English Society, 1700-1850 (Cambridge, 1973)

Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí, The Lore of Ireland: An Encyclopaedia of Myth, Legend and Romance (Woodbridge, 2006)

Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie, Children's Games in Street and Playground, 2 vols (1969; Edinburgh, 2008)

Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (New York, 2001)

Palmer, Roy, and Jon Raven, eds, The Rigs of the Fair: Popular Sports and Pastimes in the Nineteenth Century through Songs, Ballads, and Contemporary Accounts (Cambridge, 1976)

Roud, Steve, and Julia Bishop, eds, The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (Harmondsworth, 2014)

Roud, Steve, Folk Song in England (London, 2017)

Roud, Steve, The Lore of the Playground: One Hundred Years of Children's Games, Rhymes and Traditions (London, 2010)

Roud, Steve, The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland (Harmondsworth, 2003)

Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud, A Dictionary of English Folklore (Oxford, 2003)

Simpson, Jacqueline, Green Men & White Swans: The Folklore of British Pub Names (London, 2010)

Vallely, Fintan, ed., The Companion to Irish Traditional Music, 2nd. ed., (Cork, 2011)

Westwood, Jennifer, and Jacqueline Simpson, The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys (Harmondsworth, 2005)

Westwood, Jennifer, and Sophia Kingshill, The Lore of Scotland: A Guide to Scottish Legends (London, 2009)


See here.

The Horgan Brothers, Dancing at the Crossroads, Knockmonlea, County Cork, c. 1910

The Horgan Brothers, Dancing at the Crossroads, Knockmonlea, County Cork, c. 1910