Revival: The Transformative Potential of English Folksong and Dance, 1890-1940
thesisposted on 15.08.2016, 14:19 by Katie Barbara Palmer Heathman
This thesis asserts the status of the English Folk Revival of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century as a progressive movement, refuting the prevailing scholarly tendency to characterise the revival as conservative, reactionary, or ineffectually sentimental. It argues that the revival was driven by individuals committed to positive social change, who made use of both the cultural material of the folk revival and its attendant concepts of tradition, heritage, and national identity in their endeavours to effect change through the fostering of community and communality. In order to do this it analyses the participation in the revival of several key figures, Charles Marson, Conrad Noel, Grace Kimmins, Mary Neal, and Rolf Gardiner, contextualising their work in the revival alongside their political and social beliefs and their involvement in other movements. The thesis considers folk revivalism as it intersected with the Christian socialism of Marson and Noel; the youth social work of Kimmins and Neal; and the organicism and efforts towards rural regeneration of Gardiner. In doing so, the thesis also makes a case for the value of the contributions to the movement of a number of lesser-known revivalists. Two of these revivalists, Marson and Noel, have not previously been the subjects of scholarly considerations of their revival work, and Marson's archive has not previously been consulted as a source for academic work. The thesis makes extensive use of this and other archival resources, as well as the published works of each figure both on folksong and dance and in their respective other fields of interest. This biographical approach is combined with that of the cultural historian in building a detailed picture of why and how folksong and dance were used by these individuals in their efforts to create a better society.