Lyric, Meaning, and Audience in the Oral Tradition of Northern Europe
Paperback | 9780268025892 | November 2006
By looking at the ways in which cultures in Northern Europe interpret lyric songs, Thomas A. DuBois illuminates both commonalities of interpretive practice and unique features of their musical traditions. DuBois draws on sets of lyric songs from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland to explore the question of meaning in folklore, especially the role of traditional audiences in appraising and understanding nonnarrative songs. DuBois's examples range from the medieval and early modern periods to the late twentieth century. He examines lyric songs embedded within prose or poetic narratives; the ritual use of lyric as charms and laments in premodern Europe; the development of personalized meanings within hymns and devotional prayers of the high Middle Ages; Shakespeare's lyric songs and their demands on the audience; and the ways in which professional lyric singers encourage certain interpretations of their songs.
Thomas A. DuBois is professor of Scandinavian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of a number of books, including Nordic Religions in the Viking Age.
“Having so much comparative material under one cover is no small merit, and from this point of view the book will be of use to students of oral literature and its offshoots. In his ability to read and enjoy texts in so many extremely difficult languages DuBois may have no rivals.” —Journal of English and Germanic Philology ~Journal of English and Germanic Philology