Newfoundland fairy traditions : a study in narrative and belief

Rieti, Barbara Gaye (1990) Newfoundland fairy traditions : a study in narrative and belief. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF (Migrated (PDF/A Conversion) from original format: (application/pdf)) - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (76Mb)
  • [img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)

Abstract

This is a study of fairy traditions in Newfoundland, based on material from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (mostly student collections made within the past twenty-five years) and on field research on the Avalon Peninsula. It examines meanings and uses of concepts of the fairies, both as identified by informants and as suggested through the collation of texts. I argue that on a textual level meaning can be found in explicit and implicit themes: the first refers to overt narrative content (stories of changelings or going astray, for example), the second to cultural concerns which, I suggest, find metaphorical expression in fairy traditions. Analysis of this kind is subordinated, however, to consideration of the individual narrator and situation, for a contextual, ethnographic approach shows that emic interpretation varies widely, and the same content functions in different ways for different informants. I have sought to avoid abstraction and generalization on the nature and functions of fairy traditions (especially in the matter of belief”) which, in ignoring the individuality of tradition bearers, can result in a partial picture at best, and a distorted one at worst. -- In accordance with this ethnographic emphasis, I have centered all chapters but the first on my informants and the issues their narratives raise. The first chapter sets in international historical context the assertion that modern traditions are but faded remains of a moribund belief system, by showing that this view is both a folk and literary convention of long standing which has rhetorical uses; the proposition that everyone used to believe is shown to be dubious, for even when contextual information is unavailable, it can be seen from content alone that there have always been sceptics. The next six chapters document what people told me, illustrate the complexities of dealing with belief, and conclude that the fairies, amorphous and polymorphous, have always been eminently adaptable and continue to lend themselves to a multiplicity of uses.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1618
Item ID: 1618
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 569-605
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1990
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Fairies--Newfoundland and Labrador

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics