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Folklore from the Cradle to the Grave: FLS AGM conference 2017

  • 31st March — 2nd April 2017
  • 13:00—14:00
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR

“Folklore from the Cradle to the Grave”

The Folklore Society’s AGM conference 2017, jointly hosted with Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, and Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh.

Friday 31 March – Sunday 2 April 2017 at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR

Keynote Speaker: Professor Margaret Bennett, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland: ‘“By request, no toasters, no flowers”: From the Cradle to the Grave, Echoes of the Past, Edicts of the Present.’

The conference will begin at 14.00 on Friday 31 March, will run all day Saturday 1 April, and will end at 13.00 on Sunday 2 April.

We are now taking bookings: conference fee: £150 standard, £100 concessions (speakers, students, pensioners, disabled, unwaged, Folklore Society members, staff of TRACS and University of Edinburgh). Day rates also available.

A number of free student places are available: contact thefolkloresociety@gmail.com for more details

Download the booking form here

This annual conference will focus on beliefs, practices, expressive and material culture related to the cycle of life from a historical and contemporary perspective.

When the Folklore Society was founded in 1878, its original remit included the study of vernacular customs related to birth, marriage and death. In fact, the first monograph it published, Walter Gregor’s The Folk-Lore of North-East Scotland (1881), opens with a chapter on ‘Birth’ and several subsequent chapters relate directly to other significant life stages. Gregor was mindful of the dynamic nature of such vernacular cultural tradition, particularly in respect of their loss. Modern folkloristics takes a more pragmatic stance, interpreting such change in terms of resilience, hybridisation, acculturation, displacement, innovation and creativity. The breadth of life cycle studies embraces rites of passage, as conceived by the French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep (1909), and here, for example, research includes studies of traditionary behaviour associated with starting and leaving school/college, a particular occupation/vocation, recreation/sport, and retirement.


Friday 31 March 2017

13.00 Registration opens

14.00–14.45: FLS AGM (Folklore Society members only)

15.00–16.00: James H. Grayson, Folklore Society Presidential Address: ‘Son Chint’ae and the Foundations of Modern Korean Folklore Studies’ (All welcome)

16.00-16.30: Refreshments

16.30–18.00: Panel 1– Parenting, Grandparenting, and Old Age

  • Daisy Butcher, ‘Stranger Birthings: Netflix’s Stranger Things and Manifestations of the Terrible Mother Archetype’
  • Paul Cowdell, ‘Ghosts, Grandparents, Family Tradition and the Intergenerational Transmission of Folklore’
  • Melanie Lovatt, ‘Perpetual Liminality? Critiquing the Application of the Rites of Passage Framework to Residential Homes for Older People’

18.00–19.00: Reception

19.00: free to roam and forage for food

19.30: Event: for those who wish, there is Storytelling night ‘Guid Crack: Tales from the Wild Edge”, led by Dougie MacKay at The Circus Café, St Mary’s St (round the corner from the Storytelling Centre): more details and booking information athttp://www.tracsotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/6418/guid-crack-tales-from-the-wild-edge

Saturday 1 April 2017

9.30–11.00: Panel 2 – North American Narratives

  • Leticia Cortina Aracil, ‘That without which it is not possible to live: Life and Death Motifs in Kirikou and the Sorceress’
  • Rosalind Kerven, ‘Narrative Expressions of Marriage in Native American Myths’
  • Alexander Long, ‘“Mountain Hollerin”: A Field Study of the Banshee’s Presence in Rural Appalachia’

11.00–11.30: Refreshments

11.30–13.00: Panel 3 – Societal Issues

  • Matthew Cheeseman, ‘The Liminoid and the Student Experience of Higher Education’
  • Ceri Houlbrook, ‘Locking Love: Padlocks as Rites of Romantic Passage’
  • Joel Conn, ‘“The first thing to do, if you ever have to clear a house”: Lawyers’ Folklore Regarding Dealing with Estates of Deceased Clients’

13.00–14.00: Lunch

14.00–15.00: Keynote:  Margaret Bennett, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland: “By request, no toasters, no flowers”: From the Cradle to the Grave, Echoes of the past, edicts of the present.

15.00–16.00: Panel 4 – Fertility and Birthing

  • Anastasiia Zherdieva, ‘Cradles on Graves: Rituals of Fertility in Turkish Culture’
  • Natalia Dusacova, ‘Birthing Practices of Russian Old Believers: Between Traditional Midwifery and Official Medicine’

16.00–16.30: Refreshments

16.30–17.30: Panel 5 – Life Cycle and Landscape

  • Sara Hannant, ‘A Charmed Life: Fertility Talismans, Healing Rituals and Funeral Tributes at Sancreed and Madron Wells in Cornwall’
  • See Mieng Tan, ‘Bukit Brown Cemetery Exhumation: A Paradoxical Example of Nation Building in Singapore’

17.30: free to roam and forage for food

19:30: Event at Storytelling Centre: “The Art of the Storyteller” with Mara Menzies and David Campbell. To book, visit http://tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/6412/art-of-the-storyteller


Sunday 2 April 2017

9.30–10.30: Panel 6 – Funerary Customs and Practices

  • Patricia Lysaght, ‘Death, Wake and Funerary Practices: Folkloristic Perspectives’
  • Helen Frisby, ‘Bidding, Baking and Waking: the social and emotional significance of English funeral hospitality customs, past and present’

10.30–11.00: Refreshments

11.00–12.30: Panel 7 – Carnival and Nostalgia

  • Lucy Wright, ‘“What a Troupe Family Does”: Carnival Troupe Dancing and the Performance of Rites of Passage’
  • Catherine Bannister, ‘Making a Modern May Queen: Passage, Community, and Contradictions at the “Smithyhill” Guide May Queen Performance’
  • Robert McDowall, ‘The Folklore of Nostalgia; or, “Fings ain’t what they used to be”’

12.30–13.30: Lunch

14.00–16.30: Visit to Celtic & Scottish Studies archive


More Information

Access: The Storytelling Centre is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities: http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/about-the-centre/the-venue/storytelling-centre-access-statement

Conference Pub:  The Canon’s Gait, 232 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DQ

Accommodation: is not provided but we can supply a list of hotels

Event: Thursday 30 March: for those arriving early for the conference, the Storytelling Centre will be hosting Mairi Campbell’s Pulse at 19.30. For more details & booking, visit: http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre/centre-events/6419/mairi-campbell-pulse