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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.

6 Chapter 2 The spoken word Language, literacy and aspects of identity in early modern Wales Language, literacy and aspects of identity in early modern Wales Richard Suggett and Eryn White INTRODUCTION The history of the spoken word in early modern Britain involved the changing fortunes of seven or eight languages. The related English and Scots tongues expanded socially and geographically eroding Scottish Gaelic and reducing Cornish and Norse (spoken in Orkney and Shetland), and later Manx, to the point of extinction. Irish and Welsh proved the most resilient

in The spoken word
The plays of Ed Thomas and the cultural politics of South Wales

8 Cool enough for Lou Reed?: The plays of Ed Thomas and the cultural politics of South Wales1 SHAUN RICHARDS In the conclusion to his 1985 book When Was Wales? the historian Gwyn A. Williams declared that the Welsh were now ‘nothing but a naked people under an acid rain’ (305). Written in the aftermath of the antidevolution vote of 1979 and the fatal blow delivered to the economy and confidence by the defeat of the 1984 miners’ strike, Williams’s work, for all its tentative faith that some form of Wales will survive, is a litany of loss. Above all it mourns the

in Across the margins
Charity and the economy of makeshifts in eighteenth-century Britain

4 ‘Agents in their own concerns’? Charity and the economy of makeshifts in eighteenth-century Britain Sarah Lloyd The poor in England ‘Agents in their own concerns’? Introduction In 1721, several ‘Welsh gentlemen’ complained to the governors of the Welsh Charity School in Clerkenwell, claiming that poor families were leaving Wales for London so that their children could benefit from the charity.1 Consequently, they said, agricultural labour was in short supply, damaging the country. Their objections challenged the institution’s patriotic and utilitarian

in The poor in England 1700–1850
Contemporary Irish and Scottish fiction

and reshaping and/or challenging a perceived body of writing from within its own boundaries – what Patrick Kavanagh might refer to, in his redefinition of the term, as a necessary parochialism (1988: 205–6). Some of the newest and most recognisable of these voices belong to Roddy Doyle and Irvine Welsh, two young writers whose rapturous receptions outside Ireland and Scotland further problematise questions of acceptable and popular representation, both within and outwith their respective national cultures. The similarities and differences between their debut novels

in Across the margins

viewed entertainers – broadly defined – as troublesome and idle wanderers, regarding them as ‘vagabonds’ who were to be punished with increasing severity. Tudor anxiety about vagabonds was sharply expressed in several coercive statutes between 1530 and 1597.3 The later Tudor vagrancy legislation has been suggested as a cause of the decline of minstrelsy in England and Wales. In particular, the 1572 Vagrancy Act specifically redefined minstrels and other unlicensed entertainers (fencers, bearwards, common players, and jugglers) as vagabonds; a proviso to safeguard Welsh

in The spoken word
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century. There has been a Scottish Nationalist movement for over a century although the Scottish National Party (SNP) did not come into existence until 1928. Welsh nationalism is a younger phenomenon, but Plaid Cymru – the Welsh Nationalist party – does date back to 1925. Both these movements were certainly influenced by the fact that Ireland had been granted virtually full independence in 1921. independence The situation in Northern Ireland has been, quite If one of the countries of the UK became independent it clearly, very different. The full circumstances of would

in Understanding British and European political issues
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they confine with the Lowlands they speak most corrupt. They can discern the countrey one is of by his dialect’.52 In Wales the Welsh language was the sole tongue of the vast majority of the people throughout this period and beyond. Following the Henrician legislation of 1536–43 which secured political union with England, English became the normal medium of administration and law throughout the principality, a process traced by Richard Suggett and Eryn White in Chapter 2. But although the imported language was quickly adopted by the anglicizing Welsh gentry and made

in The spoken word
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independence. All nations have some elements of ‘culture’ in their national identity. Examples include the Welsh, the Germans and the Bretons. Political nations, on the other hand, such as the UK and the USA, are bound together by political principles such as ‘liberty’, ‘constitutionalism’ and ‘the rule of law’. Such principles can come into conflict with other loyalties engendered by ‘cultural’ national identity. Citizens often

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Open Access (free)

). Experimenting with an Amen (1986) opens with the poem ‘Formula’ which includes Einstein’s equation for relativity, and later in the same collection we come to the terms ‘strontium’ and ‘plutonium’ (65). Even in Welsh Airs (1987), a collection devoted to issues of Welsh culture and politics, we can find the phrase ‘the Doppler / effect of the recession of our belief’ (54). Add to the list terms such as ‘pulsars’ (Frieze, 1992: 11), ‘Thermo-Dynamics’ (Echoes, 33), ‘twin helix’ (Echoes, 109), ‘quasars’ (Counterpoint, 1990: 49), ‘Tricyano-aminopropene’ (Counterpoint, 55

in R. S. Thomas