A City Out of Old Songs: the influence of ballads, hymns and children’s songs on an Irish writer and broadcaster

Cullen, Catherine Ann (2017) A City Out of Old Songs: the influence of ballads, hymns and children’s songs on an Irish writer and broadcaster. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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Abstract

This PhD takes its title from the author’s elegy, “In Memory of Frank Harte”, which celebrates a Dublin song-collector and singer. The thesis consists of two parts, with Part I comprising two poetry collections and two children’s books, a story for children, and a selection of writings for radio which include a short story and three essays. Part II provides a 30,000-word exegesis, placing the works in the context of aural influences on the writer in the form of ballads, hymns and children’s songs in English and in Irish. The Context Statement is set in the wider cultural environment of the increasing interest in Ireland in local versions of ballads annotated by Francis Child (1825-1896). This exegesis interrogates how the songscapes of childhood have been assimilated into the writer’s work across many genres, in rhythms, phrases, narrative structures, and the use of extracts from songs. The statement unpacks this influence as a narrative thread which connects the artist’s diverse body of work. It documents the writer’s childhood in a family steeped in the ballad tradition, with roots in the north and the southwest of Ireland, and an uncle who is a traditional singer and song-collector. It casts the writer as an ethnographer of the family’s béaloideas or folklore, literally ‘mouth knowledge’. The conclusion outlines how researching this evidence-based understanding of the skills and influences involved in her work has reinforced the writer’s expertise in ballads and is shaping future work based on a more conscious motivation.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
B. > Doctorates by Public Works
Item ID: 21628
Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2017 14:29
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2019 13:22
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/21628

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