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Maud Karpeles, adventurer and folk song collector: a reconsideration of her 1929 and 1930 Newfoundland field explorations by Anna Guigné

  • Date: 25th Mar 2020
  • Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, London NW1 7AY
  • Organiser: Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
  • Website

Lecture starts at 7.30pm

In 1929, Londoner Maud Karpeles, a proponent of the early twentieth century British folk song and folk-dance revival movement, journeyed to the Dominion of Newfoundland to document British folk songs in England’s oldest colony. From 14 weeks of fieldwork, carried out between 1929 and 1930, Karpeles acquired close to 200 songs and dances, later publishing her findings in a series of articles and two major publications Folk songs from Newfoundland (1930, 1931, 1934 & 1970). Karpeles has always been a controversial figure for scholars because of her colonialist status and her sole focus on collecting songs of British origin. In this presentation Anna Guigné will offer a new consideration of Karpeles as an adventurer with the stamina and determination to carry out her fieldwork in a most challenging environment. When her entire collection of British song material is taken into consideration, particularly the fifty-two songs she acquired from Newfoundland’s remote south coast, we can also discern how and why some of the British songs she so diligently acquired are now part of the Newfoundland song complex.

Anna Kearney Guigné is an independent folklorist and adjunct professor affiliated with the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs in Ethnomusicology at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s School of Music. She received her Ph.D., with distinction, from Memorial in 2004 and is a fellow of Memorial’s School of Graduate Studies. She writes extensively on twentieth-century folk song collectors and collecting practices and has a special interest in the politics of folk music revivals, Canadian and Newfoundland folk music history and folk song collections. She is the author of four books including her most recent publication The Songs that Nearly Got Away (2016), based on the unpublished portion of Kenneth Peacock’s Newfoundland song collection (1951-1961). She has recently produced a compact disc of archival recordings entitled Doughboys and Molasses Oh: Traditional Songs from the Gros Morne Region released by Memorial University’s Research Centre for Music Media and Place.