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Costume

Performing Identities through Dress

Pravina Shukla

What does it mean to people around the world to put on costumes to celebrate their heritage, reenact historic events, assume a role on stage, or participate in Halloween or Carnival? Self-consciously set apart from everyday dress, costume marks the divide between ordinary and extraordinary settings and enables the wearer to project a different self or special identity. Pravina Shukla offers richly detailed case studies from the United States, Brazil, and Sweden to show how individuals use costumes for social communication and to express facets of their personalities.

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Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler

The Story of Traditional Fiddling on Prince Edward Island

Ken Perlman

Canada’s Prince Edward Island is home to one of the oldest and most vibrant fiddling traditions in North America. First established by Scottish immigrants in the late eighteenth century, it incorporated the influence of a later wave of Irish immigrants as well as the unique rhythmic sensibilities of the Acadian French, the Island’s first European inhabitants. In Couldn’t Have a Wedding without the Fiddler, renowned musician and folklorist Ken Perlman combines oral history, ethnography, and musical insight to present a captivating portrait of Prince Edward Island fiddling and its longstanding importance to community life. This book draws heavily on interviews conducted with 150 fiddlers and other “Islanders” whose memories span decades. The book thus colorfully brings to life a time not so very long ago when virtually any occasion—a wedding, harvest, house warming, holiday, or the need to raise money for local institutions such as schools and churches—was sufficient excuse to hold a dance, with the fiddle player at the center of the celebration. Perlman explores how fiddling skills and traditions were learned and passed down through the generations and how individual fiddlers honed their distinctive playing styles. He also examines the Island’s history and material culture, fiddlers’ values and attitudes, the role of radio and recordings, the fiddlers’ repertoire, fiddling contests, and the ebb and flow of the fiddling tradition, including efforts over the last few decades to keep the music alive in the face of modernization and the passing of “old-timers.” Rounding out the book is a rich array of photographs, musical examples, dance diagrams, and a discography. The inaugural volume in the Charles K. Wolfe American Music Series, Couldn’t Have a Wedding without the Fiddler is, in the words of series editor Ted Olson, “clearly among the more significant studies of a local North American music tradition to be published in recent years.”

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Counting-Out Rhymes

A Dictionary

Edited by Roger D. Abrahams and Lois Rankin

A definitive compendium of children’s counting-out rhymes in English reported to 1980.

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Cowboys, Cops, Killers, and Ghosts

Legends and Lore in Texas

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt

This Publication of the Texas Folklore Society has something for everyone. The first section features a good bit of occupational lore, including articles on cowboys—both legendary ones and the relatively unknown men who worked their trade day by day wherever they could. You’ll also find a unique, personal look at a famous outlaw and learn about a teacher’s passion for encouraging her students to discover their own family culture, as well as unusual weddings, somewhat questionable ways to fish, and one woman’s love affair with a bull. The backbone of the PTFS series has always been miscellanies—diverse examinations of the many types of lore found throughout Texas and the Southwest. These books offer a glimpse of what goes on at our annual meetings, as the best of the papers presented are frequently selected for our publications. Of course, the presentations are only a part of what the Society does at the meetings, but reading these publications offers insight into our members’ interests in everything from bikers and pioneers of Tejana music to serial killers and simple folk from small-town Texas. These works also suggest the importance of the “telling of the tale,” with an emphasis on oral tradition, as well as some of the customs we share. All of these things together— the focus on tradition at our meetings, the fellowship among members, and the diversity of our research—are what sustain the Texas Folklore Society.

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Crafting Tradition

The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings

By Michael Chibnik

Since the mid-1980s, whimsical, brightly colored wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca have found their way into gift shops and private homes across the United States and Europe, as Western consumers seek to connect with the authenticity and tradition represented by indigenous folk arts. Ironically, however, the Oaxacan wood carvings are not a traditional folk art. Invented in the mid-twentieth century by non-Indian Mexican artisans for the tourist market, their appeal flows as much from intercultural miscommunication as from their intrinsic artistic merit. In this beautifully illustrated book, Michael Chibnik offers the first in-depth look at the international trade in Oaxacan wood carvings, including their history, production, marketing, and cultural representations. Drawing on interviews he conducted in the carving communities and among wholesalers, retailers, and consumers, he follows the entire production and consumption cycle, from the harvesting of copal wood to the final purchase of the finished piece. Along the way, he describes how and why this "invented tradition" has been promoted as a "Zapotec Indian" craft and explores its similarities with other local crafts with longer histories. He also fully discusses the effects on local communities of participating in the global market, concluding that the trade in Oaxacan wood carvings is an almost paradigmatic case study of globalization.

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Craftsman of the Cumberlands

Tradition and Creativity

Michael Owen Jones

Why do people consider aesthetic qualities as well as utilitarian ones in the making of everyday objects? Why do they maintain traditions? What is the nature of their creative process? These are some of the larger questions addressed by Michael Owen Jones in his book on craftsmen in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Kentucky. Concentrating on the work of one man, woodworker and chairmaker Chester Cornett, Jones not only describes the tools and techniques employed by Cornett but also his aspirations and values. Cornett possessed a deep knowledge of his materials and a mastery of construction methods. Some of his chairs represent not objects of utility but aesthetic developments of the chair form. Cornett sought to cope with the problems of his life, Jones maintains; their massiveness provided a sense of security, the virtuosity of their design and construction, a feeling of self-esteem. Jones also compares other area craftsmen and their views about their work.

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Creolization as Cultural Creativity

Robert Baron

Global in scope and multidisciplinary in approach, Creolization as Cultural Creativity explores the expressive forms and performances that come into being when cultures encounter one another. Creolization is presented as a powerful marker of identity in the postcolonial creole societies of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southwest Indian Ocean region, as well as a universal process that can occur anywhere cultures come into contact.

An extraordinary number of cultures from Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the southern United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Réunion, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Suriname, Jamaica, and Sierra Leone are discussed in these essays.

Drawing from the disciplines of folklore, anthropology, ethnomusicology, literary studies, history, and material culture studies, essayists address theoretical dimensions of creolization and present in-depth field studies. Topics include adaptations of the Gombe drum over the course of its migration from Jamaica to West Africa; uses of "ritual piracy" involved in the appropriation of Catholic symbols by Puerto Rican brujos; the subversion of official culture and authority through playful and combative use of "creole talk" in Argentine literature and verbal arts; the mislabeling and trivialization ("toy blindness") of objects appropriated by African Americans in the American South; the strategic use of creole techniques among storytellers within the islands of the Indian Ocean; and the creolized character of New Orleans and its music. In the introductory essay the editors address both local and universal dimensions of creolization and argue for the centrality of its expressive manifestations for creolization scholarship.

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The Creolization of American Culture

William Sidney Mount and the Roots of Blackface Minstrelsy

Christopher J. Smith

This study examines the artworks, letters, sketchbooks, music collection, and biography of the painter William Sidney Mount (1807–1868) as a lens through which to see the multiethnic antebellum world that gave birth to blackface minstrelsy. Christopher J. Smith uses Mount's depictions of black and white vernacular fiddlers, banjo players, and dancers to open up fresh perspectives on cross-ethnic cultural transference in Northern and urban contexts, showing how rivers, waterfronts, and other sites of interracial interaction shaped musical practices by transporting musical culture from the South to the North and back. The "Africanization" of Anglo-Celtic tunes created minstrelsy's musical "creole synthesis," a body of melodic and rhythmic vocabularies, repertoires, tunes, and musical techniques that became the foundation of American popular music.

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Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean

The contradance and quadrille, in their diverse forms, were the most popular, widespread, and important genres of creole Caribbean music and dance in the nineteenth century.  Throughout the region they constituted sites for interaction of musicians and musical elements of different racial, social, and ethnic origins, and they became crucibles for the evolution of genres like the Cuban danzón and son, the Dominican merengue, and the Haitian mereng.

 

Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean is the first book to explore this phenomenon in detail and with a pan-regional perspective. Individual chapters by respected area experts discuss the Spanish, French, and English-speaking Caribbean, covering musical and choreographic features, social dynamics, historical development and significance, placed in relation to the broader Caribbean historical context. This groundbreaking text fills a significant gap in studies of Caribbean cultural history and of social dance.

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Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales

An Intertextual Dialogue between Fairy-Tale Scholarship and Postmodern Retellings

Vanessa Joosen

The first systematic approach to the parallels between fairy-tale retellings and fairy-tale theory.

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