The spoken word

Oral culture in Britain, 1500–1850

Edited by Adam Fox and Daniel Woolf

The spoken word

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-5747-2
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: February 2003
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, HISTORY / Social History, LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Etymology, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, European history, History, History
  • Series: Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain


Discusses the transition from a largely oral to a fundamentally literate society in the early modern period. During this period the spoken word remained of the utmost importance but development of printing and the spread of popular literacy combined to transform the nature of communication. Examines English, Scottish and Welsh Oral culture to provide the first pan-British study of the subject. Covers several aspects of oral culture ranging from tradition, to memories of the civil war, to changing mechanics for the settling of debts. The time-span concentrates on the period 1500-1800 but includes material from outside this time frame, covering a longer chronolgical span than most other studies to show the link between early modern and modern oral and literate cultures.


Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Introduction - Adam Fox and Daniel Woolf
2. Language, Literacy and Aspects of Identity in Early Modern Wales - Richard Suggett and Eryn White
3. The Pulpit and the Pen: Clergy, Literacy and Oral Tradition in the Scottish Highlands - Donald Meek
4. Speaking of History: Conversations about the Past in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century England - Daniel Woolf
5. Vagabonds and Minstrels in Sixteenth-Century Wales - Richard Suggett
6. Reformed Folklore? Cautionary Tales and Oral Tradition in Early Modern England - Alexandra Walsham
7. The Genealogical Histories of Gaelic Scotland - Martin MacGregor
8. Constructing Oral Tradition: The Origin of the Concept in Enlightenment Intellectual Culture - Nicholas Hudson
9. 'Things Said or Sung a Thousand Times': Customary Society and Oral Culture in Rural England 1700-1900 - Bob Bushaway


Adam Fox is Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Edinburgh. Daniel Woolf is Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada

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