Postcards from a PhD
I spent an enjoyable portion of this afternoon in York browsing back issues of Folklore: the Journal of the Folklore Society in a second-hand bookshop. While I’d liked to have whisked them all home with me, this wasn’t financially practical, so I settled for just volume 102 on the basis of an interesting transcript of the March 1991 presidential address by Roy Judge. ‘May Day and Merrie England’ is an examination of “May Day as deriving from an ‘imagined past'” and draws on an idea by Raymond Williams of “an escalator moving backwards into time, so that each ‘Merrie England’ in the past in turn discloses its own nostalgic vision of a yet further golden age behind it from which it was conscious of declining”. Fascinating stuff.
Equally fascinating is the insight the journal gives into the workings of a small organisation driven by passion for the subject matter. I read with glee one reader’s response to what they felt was a misleading under-estimation of the continued use of broad beans to cure warts and was interested to see in the yearly expenditure accounts that the society’s computer had decreased in value by an estimation of £460. I was sorry to discover I had missed the Fabulous Beasts Conference (sponsored by the International Society of Cryptozoology) by a mere 25 years.