Watt 1991

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Watt, Tessa. Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

popular culture -- Peter Burke: asymmetrical definition of great vs. little; Bob Scribner: popular culture as total, unified culture (2)

"this idea that the broadsides and chapbooks were aimed at and consumed by a definable social group may be a myth" (3)

Chartier, "consumption" -- representations never identical to those introduced by the producers of the works (4)

"Before 1640, it is likely that a large proportion of the buyers were drawn from the middling ranks of yeomen, husbandmen and tradespeople, and that even gentry readers were not uncommon. If publishers did increasingly 'target' humbler readers, this should not necessarily be seen as a divisive phenomenon. Cheap print in this period was just as likely to be an instrument of social cohesion, as more people were brought into the reading public, and as stories, images and values permeated the multiple tiers of English society. This 'shared culture' was disseminated along lines of communication which connected the country, both socially and geographically." (5)

unlike in France, some texts were accessible in all parts of England (5-6)

"If we are to choose a metaphor from the chapman's pack, print was more like the 'scotch cloth' or 'coarse linen', sold by the yard, to be made into something by the buyer. In the parlance of the new cultural history, we should not look at print in isolation, but at how it was 'appropriated'." (6)

The Broadside Ballad

Small and popular music

"one of the first widespread and widely affordable forms of the printed word was the song" (11)

ballads -- performed as part of minstrelsy, dance, theatrical jigs, three-man-songs, and other recreational forms now extinct (13)

minstrel: living based on performance, accompanied by instruments; broadside ballad singer-and-seller, dependent on the printed artifact (16)

MS Ashmole 48, commonplace book copied largely from broadsides; "Such commonplace books show that the broadside was familiar amongst the most 'elite' groups of sixteenth-century society, yet, at the same time, suggest an ambivalent attitude to print. Rather than pasting the broadsides in, the songs were copied out longhand, 'as if the action of writing were a condition of personal appropriation'. This act transformed an ephemeral, commercial produt into a private or household possession, preserved for posterity in a bound volume." (17)

"Epitaphs of nobility and gentry make up a substantial proportion of surviving sixteenth-century broadsides. With the growing importance of the printed word, it was no longer enough for a death to be marked by an oral tribute from the household's minstrel: now there was apparently a desire to have this eulogy legitimized in print, and distributed in broadside form." (20)

high mobility among minstrels and waits; "the songs they performed were disseminated to all corners of England" (22)

broadside ballad seller, using his voice to sell printed text (23); "There was no question of just setting the ballad sheets out in a stall like books; they were written for oral performance." (24)

"we should think of a national market for cheap print, and not merely a metropolitan area" (28)

brief period at the end of 17c, "a small percentage of broadside ballads included music" (33)

"Incidents recording the use of popular songs for insult and gossip show a creative attitude towards ballads: the people who sang them were not the passive conduits of a fixed tradition. When studying broadside texts it is worth bearing in mind the myriad ways in which they may have been dramatized, localized and personalized by the singers." (37
"With the dissermination of fixed printed texts came an emphasis on specific facts, dates and places which is a feature of broadside balladry and not of 'traditional' oral ballads."

A godly ballad to a godly tune