Is it that time of year again already?
Tomorrow night is this year's Katharine Briggs evening at the Folklore Society. The FLS, like every other society, has developed its own ritual year, and the Briggs evening is one of my very favourite parts of it.
It begins with the Katharine Briggs lecture, which this year will be given by David Atkinson on 'The Ballad and Its Paradoxes'. David is editor of the Folk Music Journal and one of those satisfyingly unshowy scholars who are (quite rightly) most interested in the intellectual content of their work. A few years ago I saw David give a typically brilliant conference paper, rich and stimulating: he was rather deflated that there were no questions afterwards, but this turned out to be because every scholar in the field was trying to assimilate and grapple with his ideas. Over the next couple of days every interesting paper I saw was marked by a moment when the scholar would suddenly say 'And THIS is something David Atkinson raised yesterday ...' It's the best kind of scholarship, and I'm very much looking forward to hearing him again.
The lecture is also followed by a wine reception and the announcement of the winner of the Katharine Briggs book award. This manages to be both jolly and inspiring, as the award was set up to promote the publication of folklore books. This year's shortlist looks to cover a lot of bases, popular and academic. I've seen some of the other titles that were submitted (they'll be on display during the evening tomorrow) and I think there was quality in depth this year. The shortlist's exciting:
Dave Arthur, Bert: The Life and Times of A.L. Lloyd (Pluto)
Regina Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem, eds, A Companion to Folklore (Wiley-Blackwell)
R. Andrew Chesnut, Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint (Oxford University Press)
Sara Hannant, Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey through the English Ritual Year (Merrell)
David Hopkin, Voices of the People in Nineteenth Century France (Cambridge University Press)
Craig Koslofsky, Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press)
Katherine Luongo, Witchcraft and Colonial Rule in Kenya, 1900-1950 (Cambridge University Press)
Emily Lyle, ed., Galoshins Remembered: ‘A Penny Was a Lot in These Days' (National Museums of Scotland)
Mark Stoyle, The Black Legend of Prince Rupert's Dog: Witchcraft and Propaganda during the English Civil War (University of Exeter Press)
Marina Warner, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights (Chatto & Windus)
I've commented on a couple of these titles here already. I have others (and others from the longlist) sitting on my desk awaiting review in various places, and I hope to comment on a few more here. I'm looking forward to catching up with some old friends and esteemed colleagues at an event which really seeks to set out folklore's stall in the best possible way.