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Working Life: Belief, Custom, Ritual, Narrative

  • 27th — 29th April 2018
  • Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, 6 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX

Working Life: Belief, Custom, Ritual, Narrative                

A Folklore Society Conference, Friday 27 April to Sunday 29 April 2018 at The Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading


All of the conference talks will take place in Room L22 G01 of the University of Reading, London Road Campus (5 mins walk from the Museum)

Friday 27th

13:00-14:00         Registration opens at University of Reading, London Road campus, Room L22 G01

14:00-14:30         Welcome to the conference, by Dr Oliver Douglas, Curator, Museum of English Rural Life, and member of the FLS Council.

14:30—15:30       Prof. Patricia Lysaght, The Folklore Society Presidential Address 2018:

“From ‘Collect the Fragments…’ to ‘Memory of the World’. The Irish Folklore Commission (1935–1970):  Achievement, Legacy, and the Digital Era.”

15:30-16:00         Tea/Coffee

16:00-18:00         Session 1:  Folklorists, Monks, Millers and Drinks

Dr Paul Cowdell: “Second Impressions: What We Make of What Makes us Folklorists”

Dr Anne Lawrence-Mathers: “The Monks of Reading Abbey as Creators and Custodians of Images of Working Lives.”

Jeremy Harte: “‘How Many Sacks Hast Thee A-Stole?’ The Miller as Folk Villain.”

Dr Matt Cheeseman: “Friday Drinks.”

18:00-19:30          Friday Drinks Reception at the Museum of English Rural Life: with folk music

19:30                    Free to roam and forage for food. Conference pub: The Mercure George Hotel, 10-12 King Street, Reading RG1 2HE

Saturday 28th

9:30-11:00            Session 2:  Work Songs

Dr Devender Kumar: “Peasantry in North Indian Women’s Folk Song Jakari.”

Hasmik Matikyan: “Lullaby as Work Song.”

Ernie Warner: “Work Songs and Occupational Identity in Song and Dance.”

11:00-11:30         Tea/Coffee

11:30-13:00         Session 3: Spinning Yarns

Rosalind Kerven: “Spinners, Servants and Midwives: Women at Work in British and Irish Folk Narratives.”

Mark Norman: “Spindle, Shuttle and Needle: The Folklore of Wool and Yarn.”

Dr Kate Smith: “From Hard Labour to Art and Leisure”

13:00-14:00         Lunch

14:00-15:00         Keynote talk: Prof. David Hopkin: “Lace Legends, Patrons and Celebrations: Craft Pride and Women’s Work.”

15:00-16:00         Session 4:  Potters and Publicans

Dr Ceri Houlbrook: “‘A Folklorist Walks into a Bar…’: The Publican as Curator of the Concealed Revealed.”

Dr Meredith McGriff: “Individuals Together: Independent Professional Potters as an Occupational Folk Group.”

16:00-16:30         Tea/Coffee

16:30-18:00         Session 5:  Rural Labour, Landscape and Legend

Fiona Mackenzie: “‘Bho mhoch gu dubh’: From Dawn to Dusk—a Day in the Working Life of a Hebridean Crofter.”

Dr Nick Jones: “Encountering Tolpuddle: Landscape , Ritual and Power.”

Robert McDowall: “William Cobbett: a 21st-Century Evaluation of Rural Rides.”

18:00—                Free to roam and forage for food. Conference pub: The Mercure George Hotel

Sunday 29th

9:30-11:00           Session 6:  Grave-digging, Corpse Roads and Funeral Handicrafts

Dr Helen Frisby & Dr Stuart Prior: “Law, Lore and Landscape: Gravedigging in 19th- to 20th-Century England.”

Dr Stuart Dunn: “Corpse Roads: Connecting archaeology, folklore and landscape.”

Dr Mu Peng: “Doing Handicraft: Balancing Diversity and Uniformity in Rural China.”

11:00-11:30         Tea/Coffee

11:30-13:00         Session 7:  Fairies, Toadmen and Charcoal-burners

Jo Hickey-Hall: ‘“Wilt gie us the lend of thy plough and tackle?”: Fairies at Work’

Dr Maureen James: “‘Catch a ‘walking toad’: Exploring the Rituals and Practices of the Toadmen of East Anglia.”

Dr Tommy Kuusela: “The Charcoal-burner, the Hunter and the Female Forest Spirit.”

13:00-14:00         lunch

14:30-16:30         Tour of the Museum of English Rural Life

Download the Programme and Abstracts