CFP: Ballads and Broadsides, 1500-1800 (9/15/05; 2/24/06-2/25/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Simone R. Chess
contact email: 

The Early Modern Center at UCSB invites paper proposals for "Straws in the
Wind: Ballads and Broadsides, 1500-1800," an interdisciplinary conference to
be held at UC Santa Barbara on February 24 and 25, 2006.

"Straws in the Wind" derives its title from a comment made by John Selden
(whose collection of ballads Samuel Pepys built upon) in touting the
importance of ballads, or what he called "libels" of his time. "Though some
make slight of libels," Selden protests, "yet you may see by them how the
wind sits. As take a straw, and throw it up into the air; you shall see by
that which way the wind is, which you shall not do by casting up a stone."
This conference provides a space to interrogate these "scattered straws"
from a range of perspectives. How do they function as cultural artifacts or
as indicators of their historical moments? What are the lasting impacts and
legacies of ballad culture? If ballads and broadsides have the capacity to
show trends of popular culture, do they also have the potential to change

Papers should address issues central to the study of ballads and broadsides.
Possible topics might include:

• ballad collections as reliable sources of the past
• formal features of ballads and broadsides (woodcuts and blackletter
• ballad music and tunes
• the "problem" of women on the streets
• representations of transgressive genders and sexualities
• the preoccupation with monsters and wonders
• violent encounters
• notions of nation and national identity
• the rise of the political broadside in both England and America

In addition to two days of formal panels and papers, the conference will
include an evening of song and ballad performance!

The Early Modern Center at UCSB is uniquely positioned to host "Straws in
the Wind: Ballads and Broadsides, 1500-1800," as we have recently begun work
on a one-of-a-kind online archive of English broadside ballads, 1500-1800.
This ballad archive will provide a fully searchable database and catalogue
of high-quality facsimile images (digitized in three sizes) as well as
modern transcriptions of the broadside ballads provided in such a way that
the viewer never loses sight of the original ballad artifact. Sung versions
of the ballads will also be available. We have already mounted and fully
catalogued the 1,857 ballads in the Samuel Pepys collection, together with
some transcriptions and songs of the ballads: see We hope that this conference will
continue in the spirit of the archive project, fueling inquiries and
investigations of ballads and broadsides that consider the artifact as well
as its many implications.

Proposals for 20-minute papers are due by September 15th, and should take
the form of an abstract of 300 words or less. Submit your abstract to the
Straws in the Wind website, at .
Please direct questions and concerns to

--Simone ChessGraduate Student and Teaching AssistantUC Santa ========================================================== From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List Full Information at or write Jennifer Higginbotham: ==========================================================Received on Thu Aug 25 2005 - 07:41:23 EDT