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Fall 2021 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for fall 2021 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

English Folk Poetry
Structure and Meaning

Roger deV. Renwick

276 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512806069 | Buy from Combined Academic Publishers £20.99
An Anniversary Collection volume

"Without a doubt, this is the single most important analytical work in ballad and folksong scholarship to be written in this century."—Kenneth S. Goldstein

"A welcome addition to—but a departure from—the literature on English folksong."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Richly documented and engagingly written."—Choice

Drawing on the long tradition of folklore study, Roger deV. Renwick examines three genres: traditional English folksongs, local songs of regional interest, and working-class poetry. In the span of time that extends from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, he finds govern world views underlying a large sampling of poems related by common language, imagery, or topic, and then shows how these world views relate to the everyday lives and beliefs of the poetry's makers and users. There is, in addition, a pattern of historical continuity that links the rural folksongs of the eighteenth century with the part-rural, part-urban local songs of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and with the fully urban working-class poetry of the present day.

English Folk Poetry is an immensely important contribution to folklore scholarship in its examination of contemporary working-class poetry, in its approach to questions of tacit meaning, and in its exploration of the relationship of inferential meanings to real, everyday lives.

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