English 383A/German 200/Comparative Literature 227a the Ballad Tradition

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English 383A/German 200/Comparative Literature 227A

The Ballad Tradition

Spring 2014–15

M 3:15-6:05; Room ECON139

Professors Adrian Daub, German; Denise Gigante, English

daub@stanford.edu; dgigante@stanford.edu
Ballads are the basic form of the European lyric and a popular form of song tracing back to the Middle Ages. The "ballad revival" of the late eighteenth was part of a larger movement to recuperate a lost cultural world of the past. Ballads were “discovered” in odd places on loose bits of paper, written down from oral sources like old village “gossips,” printed, disseminated, sung, set to music, copied down and presented as gifts, illustrated, translated, rewritten, adapted to the stage, studied, debated, anthologized, introduced, annotated, explicated, and otherwise made into a paradoxically popular high-culture phenomenon. Their study involves questions that can be approached from diverse perspectives: historical inquiry, book history, translation theory and praxis, poetics, comparative literary studies, folklore and mythology studies, cultural studies, feminist and queer theory, music theory and no doubt the digital humanities. The course aims to accommodate a broad range of interests.
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Week 1: The Ballad in Translation: The Erl King


* Elveskud (pub. Peder Syv in 1695 in Danish and English translation)

* J. F. Herder, “Erlkönigs Tochter” (1778)

* Monk G. Lewis, trans. “The Erl King’s Daughter” (1799)

* Robert Jamieson, trans. "Sir Oluf and the Elf-king's daughter" (1806)

* W.F. Goethe, Der Erlkönig (The Erl King); 1782

* George Borrow, trans. “The Erl King” (1823)

* Sir Walter Scott, trans. “The Erl King” (Oak King); 1799

* Monk Lewis, trans. “The Erl King” (1801)

* John Leyden, “The Elfin King” (1801)

* Thomas Keightley, “The Young Swain and the Elves”; "Sir Olof in Elve-Dance"; "The Elf-Woman and Sir Olof" (1828)

Week 2: Danish Ballads and the Scandinavian Supernatural


George Borrow, trans. Romantic Ballads: The Death-Raven”; “Fridleif and Helga”; “Sir Middel”; “The Heddybee-Spectre”; “Sir John”; “May Asda”; “Aager and Eliza”; “Saint Oluf”; ”; “Elvir-Shades”; “Elvir Hill”; “Waldemar’s Chase”; “The Merman”; “The Deceived Merman”; “The Elder-Witch”; “The Heroes of Dovrefeld”; “Sven Vonved” “The Tournament” “Vidrik Verlandson”; “The Violet Gatherer
* E. M. Smith-Dampier, trans. “The Avenging Sword”; “The Elfin shaft”; “The Knavish merman”; “Agnes and the merman”; “The Enchanted Maiden”; “ Torben's daughter”; “ The Maiden at the Thing”; “The Game of Dice”; “King Erik and the Scornful Maid”; “The Maiden's morning dream”
* Michael Dunn, “Medieval Danish Ballads”

* George Borrow, “Danish Poetry and Ballad Writing”

Week 3: Reliques of Ancient English Poetry


*Bishop Thomas Percy, ed. Reliques of Ancient English Poetry

The Gaberlunzie Man; Sir Patrick Spence; Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne; Edward, Edward; The Children in the Wood; Sir Cauline; The Boy and the Mantle; King Arthur’s Death; The Ancient Ballad of Chevy-Chase; The Battle of Ottorbourne; Edom o’Gordon; King Estmere; The Child of Elle; The Tournament of Tottenham; Hardyknute; The Marriage of Sir Gawaine; The Legend of King Arthur; Glasgerion; Child Waters; Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard; The Knight and Shepherd’s Daughter; Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor; The Lady turned Servingman; Gil Morrice; The Legend of Sir Guy; Guy and Amarant; Fair Margaret and Sweet William; The Lady’s Fall; The Bride’s Burial; The King of France’s Daughter; The King and the Miller of Mansfield; The Birth of St. George; St. George & the Dragon

* T. Percy, Essay on the Ancient Minstrels of England
Week 4: Sturm und Drang: Lenore


Gottfried August Bürger, “Lenore” (1773)

Goethe, “The Bride of Corinth”; trans. E.A. Bowring (1801)

Trans. J. T. Stanley, “Lenora” (1786)

Trans. William Taylor, “Lenore” (1796); “Ellenore” (1797)

Trans. H.J. Pye, “Lenore” (1796)

Trans. William R. Spencer, “Leonora” (1796)

Trans. Sir Walter Scott as “William and Helen”(1796)

Dramatic Adaptation: Karl von Holtei, Lenore (1828)

* Dianne Dugaw, “The Popular Marketing of ‘Old Ballads’: The Ballad Revival & 18th-Century Antiquarianism Reconsidered,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 21:1 (1987)

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Diana Beauclerk, Leonora

Week 5: Tales of Wonder: The Gothic Revival


G.A. Bürger, “Die Wilde Jäger”; Trans. Walter Scott, “The Wild Huntsman”

J. G. Herder, “Elvers Hoh” (Elves’ Hill), trans. Monk Lewis” and “Der Wasserman,” trans. Monk Lewis, “The Water King”

Gregory “Monk” Lewis, “Bothwell’s Bonny Jane”; “Osric the Lion”; “Sir Hengist”; “Alonzo the Brave and the Fair Imogine”; “Giles Jollup the Grave”; “The Sword of Angantyre” (Runic); “The Cloud King”; “The Sailor’s Tale”; “The Princess and the Slave”; “The Gay Gold Ring”; “the Grim White Woman”

Robert Southey, “Rudiger”; “Cornelius Agrippa’s Bloody Book”; “The Old Woman of Berkeley: Of a Certain Witch and Her Miserable Death”; essay on its origins; “Bishop Bruno”; “Lord William”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee”; “Bridal Ballad”; “Ulalume”
* Walter Scott, Essay on the Imitations of the Ancient Ballad (1830)

* Joseph Ritson: Preface and “On the Origin and Progress of National Song,” in A Select Collection of English Songs (1783)

Week 6: Scots Balladry: Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott


Robert Burns, The Fête Champêtre (116); Scots Wha Hae (126); Does Haughty Gaul (133); The Rigs o’ Barley (137); Mary Morison (139); Green Grow the Rashes O (140); The Lass o’ Ballochmyle (160); A Man’s a Man for a’ That (167); Ca’ the Yowes (169); Auld Lang Syne (171); Yestreen I had a Pint (173); Highland Mary (177); Ae Fond Kiss (175); O wert thou in the cauld blast (180); The heather was bloomiing (198); My Heart’s in the Highlands (202); Awa, Whigs (203); There’ll Never be Peace (211); Ye Jacobites (212); My Father Was a Farmer (218); The Farewell (243); * John Barleycorn; *The Five Carlins; *The Heron Ballads (1-4);

Sir Walter Scott, The Fire King; Glenfinlas, or Lord Ronald’s Coronach; The Eve of St. John; Frederick and Alice

*Ritson, Preface and “A Historical Essay on Scottish Song”

* Susan Stewart, “Scandals of the Ballad,” Representations, No. 32 (1990), pp. 134-156
Week 7: Lyrical Ballads: Wordsworth and Coleridge


S.T. Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Marinere”; “Love”

William Wordsworth: “Simon Lee”; “Anecdote for Fathers”; “We Are Seven”; “Lines written in early spring”; “The Thorn”; “The Last of th Flock”; “The Mad Mother”; “The Idiot Boy”; “Expostulation and Reply” “The Tables Turned”; “The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman”; “The Convict”; “Heart Leap Well” “Ellen Irwin”; “Strange Fits of Passion”; “She dwelt among th’ untrodden ways”; “A slumber did my spirit seal”; “Lucy Gray”; “Ruth”; “Two April Mornings”; “Written in Germany”
* Saree Makdisi, “Civilizing the Ballad”
Week 8: Annus Mirabilis: Goethe & Schiller


J.W. Goethe, “Der Fischer”; trans. Monk Lewis, “The Fisherman”

and Friedrich Schiller, Ballads

* David Buchan, from The Ballad and the Folk

* Adrian Daub, “Balladic Consciousness”

Week 9: Wunderhorn: The Boy’s Magic Horn

Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim, Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1805, 1808)

Musical Settings: Gustav Mahler, ?
Week 10: Ballads of the American Renaissance


Henry W. Longfellow: “The Skeleton in Armor”; “The Wreck of the Hesperus”; “The Village Blacksmith”; “Endymion”: “God’s Acre”; “The Goblet of Life”; “Maidenhood”; “Excelsior” (1841)

Emily Dickinson: I had a guinea golden (12); Heart not so heavy (88); Poor Little Heart (214); Blazing in Gold (321); We dream it is good (584); Did you ever stand in a Cavern’s Mouth (619); I meant to have but modest needs (711); Because I Could Not Stop for Death” (712); Sang from the Heart Sire (1083); A faded boy (1549); It Was not Death (355); “Tell All the Truth, But Tell it Slant; I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed; I Heard a Fly Buzz; I Started Early; After Great Pain
* Cristanne Miller, “Dickinson and the Ballad”

Course Requirements:

  1. Attendance and participation in seminar: mandatory.

  2. Mini-Assignments: Please choose two of the following; sign up for two separate weeks.

    1. Compare versions of a ballad

    2. Ballad in material context (paratext, illustrations, &c.)

    3. Ballad technique

    4. Special Collections

  3. One 15-page research paper: please start thinking about this in week 1.

Required Reading:
Courseworks: items marked with an asterisk.
Stanford Bookstore:

  • Romantic Ballads, trans. George Henry Borrow ASIN: B003VS037I

  • Robert Burns, Poems (Everyman); 978-0307266163

  • W. Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads, ed. Brett and Jones; 978-0415063883

  • The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin; 9780674018242


  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, [poems from] The Complete Poetical Works: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1365/pg1365.html

  • Francis James Child, ed., The English and Scottish Popular Ballads: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/

  • E.M. Smith-Dampier, Danish Ballads


  • Oliver Farrar Emerson, The Earliest English Translations of Bürger’s Lenore: https://archive.org/stream/earliestenglish00emergoog#page/n22/mode/2up/search/leonora

Further Reading and Resources

  • English and Scottish Popular Ballads, ed. Francis James Child, volumes 1-10

  • Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm;

    • 30,000 ballads from 16th-20th centuries, mainly UK

  • The English Broadside Ballad Archives: http://emc.english.ucsb.edu/ballad_project/index.asp

  • Paula McDowell, “’The Manufacture and Lingua-Franca of Ballad-Making’: Broadside Ballads in Long Eighteenth-Century Ballad Discourse,” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 47:2/3 (2006): 151-78 (CW)

Research assistant: Eva Jenke, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: eva.jenke@hu-berlin.de

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