6 Chapter 5 The spoken word Vagabonds and minstrels in sixteenth-century Wales Vagabonds and minstrels in sixteenth-century Wales Richard Suggett T hroughout much of late medieval and early modern Europe, from Poland and Russia in the east to Wales and Ireland in the west, itinerant minstrels entertained noble and plebeian audiences. Wandering entertainers may well have provided (as Burke has suggested) one of the unifying elements within European popular culture. A pan-European tradition of minstrelsy, crossing social and cultural boundaries, is an

in The spoken word
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Oral culture in Britain 1500–1850
Editors: Adam Fox and Daniel Woolf

Human beings have developed a superabundance of ways of communicating with each other. Some, such as writing, are several millennia old. This book focuses on the relationship between speech and writing both within a single language, Welsh, and between two languages, Welsh and English. It demonstrates that the eighteenth-century Scottish clergy used the popular medium of Gaelic in oral and written form to advance the Gospel. The experience of literacy in early modern Wales was often an expression of legal and religious authority reinforced by the spoken word. This included the hearing of proclamations and other black-letter texts publicly read. Literate Protestant clergymen governed and shaped the Gaelic culture by acting as the bridge-builders between oral and literary traditions, and as arbiters of literary taste and the providers of reading material for newly literate people. The book also offers some illustrations of how anecdotes became social tools which used to make points not only in private correspondence but also in civil conversation in early modern England. Locating vagabonds and minstrels, and other wanderers on the margins of settled society depended on the survival of the appropriate historical record. Cautionary tales of the judgements God visited upon flagrant and incorrigible sinners circulated widely in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England: stories of sabbath-breakers, swearers, drunkards, adulterers and other ungodly livers struck down suddenly by the avenging arm of the Almighty. During the age of Enlightenment, intellectual culture nourished a new understanding of non-literate language and culture.

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of unbridled fancy’ rather than ‘the skill of the poet’, then its author is ‘no more than a humble romancer’. Scott here mimics the rhetoric of neo-classical distinction, but his particular prejudice, inseparable from his social aspirations (like Percy he is a man on the make), comes into focus when he imagines the medieval audience ‘circumscribed in knowledge’ and ‘limited in conversational powers’: ‘to prevent those pauses of discourse which sometimes fall heavily on a company’, a poet-minstrel is employed, he argues, to supply ‘an agreeable train of ideas to

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
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encounters with the written or printed word. In the case of early modern Britain, they were lived through in different ways, at different times, in different parts of the land. They were unquestionably 11 Introduction subject to social differentiation. But if ‘literate’ can no longer be taken as a synonym for elite (or even educated), then ‘oral’ is emphatically not coterminous with popular or marginal. Speech figured in every human being’s life, from kings and archbishops down to minstrels and vagrants, and for every human being it was the most routine and commonplace

in The spoken word
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Romances, novels, and the classifications of Irish Romantic fiction

geographical features (the recess, ruins, the rock, Alps, black valley, black tower, haunted cavern); architectural features (priory, castle, abbey, convent, nunnery, ancient house, cloister); … ghost and its cognates (apparition, specter, phantom, the ghost-seer, sorcerer, magician, necromancer, weird sisters); exotic names (Manfredi, Edward de Courcy, Wolfenbach); and generic or historical figures (the monk, the genius, the minstrel, knights, the royal captives, Duke of Clarence, Lady Jane Grey, John of Gaunt). 36

in The gothic novel in Ireland, c. 1760–1829

songs delivered by lady members dressed as ‘nigger minstrels’.139 Just over a decade later, contributors to Tribune condemned The Black and White Minstrel Show (watched on BBC television every week by millions) as a disgrace for portraying black people as second-class citizens.140 David Ennals, the minister in charge of integration, claimed, however, that, having seen the programme, he could find no trace of prejudice in it.141 Notes The place of publication is London unless otherwise specified. 1 Some of the material contained in this chapter has appeared in

in The Labour Governments 1964–70 volume 1
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Street and theatre at the end of Fordism

to account for how and why America’s white working class apparently celebrated black culture while constituting itself as the ‘white working class’ in opposition to that culture. In this account, the white working class (particularly the white working-class man) looks on the racial Other with both envy and repulsion. In contrast, Jones contends that the ‘blackness’ constructed by white minstrel performers had little to do with actual black people. It was instead a third race, neither black nor white, that allowed white minstrels to differentiate themselves both

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
Translatina world-making in The Salt Mines and Wildness

some of the black and Latinx participants in New York’s ballroom scene at the centre of scholarly conversations about gender performativity, racialised queer subcultures, and new queer cinema in the 1990s. However, some complained that the film sensationalised the performances as a modern-​day freak show or minstrel show, and criticised the realist ethnographic style that absented the film’s director, Jennie Livingston, a white lesbian filmmaker, from the diegesis (e.g. hooks, 1996; Reid-​Pharr, 1990). In contrast, queer film scholar Lucas Hilderbrand argues that

in The power of vulnerability
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What lovers want

prowess in battle to his generosity to minstrels to his hospitality to his own household, Degrevant is in fact a worthy custodian of his new family’s line. Their extravagant wedding, attended by Emperors, cardinals, the douze peers of France, the King of Portugal, et al., advances the message of the plot: men of wealth and gentility deserve access to the highest class, but only their own fiercest exertions will enable them to rise in a world where great magnates have the power to ride roughshod over such aspirations. Love does in the romance what royal authority was

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
The lump-child and its parents in The King of Tars

with which the Sultan celebrates his wedding is in Vernon gory and unrestrained, in contrast to Auchinleck, where the poet calls it ‘a semly si3t’ (A, 535) and distinguishes it stylistically from the accounts of battle which begin and end the narrative.32 What in Auchinleck is favourably rendered as entertaining or socially useful chivalry becomes in Vernon brutal violence, implying that the enjoyment of such pastimes befits neither Christian characters nor Christian audiences. A similar distaste for courtly entertainments is manifest in the treatment of minstrel

in Pulp fictions of medieval England