Sarah Joanne Davies's An investigation into attitudes towards illegitimate birth PDF

By Sarah Joanne Davies

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Binary oppositions are also seen to underpin the meanings of this second category. The euphemistic model maps out "five phenomenal domains of territory, experience, social status, personality, and motive" within the songs (85). Oppositions, particularly in the domain of personality, are described in terms of conventionally "masculine" and "feminine" traits, consequently, activity would be added to the former and passivity to the latter categories. This contributes to the overriding binary opposition of masculine versus feminine to which I shall later return.

Gammon eventually concludes that, ironically, these songs have an essentially conservative, rather than a subversive function. Gammon is one of the few writers to acknowledge the extreme complexity of the relationship between song and its socio-historical context, suggesting possible pathways through this kind of material which directly confront, rather than side-step, the apparent contradictions. More recently, scholars have pursued some of the issues raised by Gammon in much closer detail. Cathy Lynn Preston, for example, addresses the above question relating to the importance of audience composition and identity.

Renwick suggests that not only places, but also certain people, exhibit these polarised connotations. Protagonists who are sailors (with whom he associates the fisherman in this song), or "maidens" are two such examples. Sailors occupy a polarised position in terms of exhibiting, on the one hand, extremely untrustworthy qualities as lovers and, on the other, excessive loyalty and devotion. Interestingly, Renwick emphasises that this "Janus-like characteristic is a consequence of sailors' mobility" (33).

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An investigation into attitudes towards illegitimate birth as evidenced in the folklore of South West England by Sarah Joanne Davies


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