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The Katharine Briggs Award 2014

— Posted on 20th November 2014

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2014 Katharine Briggs Award is David Atkinson, for his book The Anglo-Scottish Ballad and its Imaginary Contexts, published by OpenBook Publishers. Congratulations David.

Runners-up: Jackie Marsh and Julia C. Bishop, Changing Play: Play, Media and Commercial Culture from the 1950s to the Present Day, Open University Press.

Here are the Katharine Briggs Award judges’ comments on the short listed entries:

David Atkinson, The Anglo-Scottish Ballad and its Imaginary Contexts (OpenBook Publishers): An excellent book containing typically focused scholarship that, because of its seriousness and richness, reaches far beyond its subject to be of use to anyone thinking about folklore today.

Roger Clegg and Lucie Skeaping, Singing Simpkin and other Bawdy Jigs. Musical Comedy on the Shakespearean Stage: Scripts, Music and Context (University of Exeter Press): A valuable work of scholarly reconstruction and recontexualisation of the Shakespearean theatrical jig. The format will prove useful to both practitioners and scholars alike.

Catherine E. Foley, Step Dancing in Ireland: Culture and History (Ashgate): A well conducted and contextualised ethnography with a useful historical perspective. The study brings out the developing tensions between tradition and traditionality (with local traditions being eroded in favour of a more broadly accepted version of the tradition).

Erika Friedl, Folktales and Storytellers of Iran: Culture, Ethos and Identity (I.B. Tauris): An interesting overview of significant and involved ethnographic fieldwork. It contains criticisms of aspects of folkloristics which deserve to be engaged with.

Nick Groom, The Seasons: An Elegy for the Passing of the Year (Atlantic Books). Beautifully and artistically written whilst maintaining its scholarly focus, this book is a welcome addition to writing on the seasons, the calendar year and tradition.

Ronald Hutton, Pagan Britain (Yale University Press): An excellent summation of much scholarship in many fields ranging from archaeology to what was known as ‘earth mysteries’.  Especially valuable to the popular history of folklore in the British Isles.

Jackie Marsh & Julia C. Bishop, Changing Play: Play, Media and Commercial Culture from the 1950s to the Present Day (Open University Press): A terrific update and summary of work in childlore. Thoroughly interesting and worthwhile, the judges were impressed by its scope.

Barbara O’Connor, The Irish Dancing: Cultural Politics and Identities, 1900–2000 (Cork University Press): A fantastic premise to think about Irish identity from a cultural studies perspective. Certainly of use to folklorists thinking about tradition and dancing in any context.

David Shankland (editor), Westermarck (Sean Kingston Publishing): An excellent and well edited collection that amounts to an important intellectual history, of use to anyone researching the history of folklore.

Andy Wood, The Memory of the People: Custom and Popular Senses of the Past in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press): A fabulous work of social history investigating landscape, memory and the politics of custom. The judges were especially impressed with the richness of the writing and the depth of the research.

Wanda Wyporska, Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland, 1500–1800 (Palgrave Macmillan): A most interesting look at the effects of Post-Tridentine Catholicism on popular belief. Well written, it resonates with the broader context in many other national contexts.


The 2014 Katharine Briggs Lecture, by Prof. Diane Goldstein, ‘“Cry, Lady, Cry”: Maternal Infanticide Narratives and the Vernacular Construction of Blame’, was full to the rafters and much enjoyed. We look forward to seeing the print version in a future issue of our journal Folklore. Many thanks Diane.