Good friends and bad enemies: Robert W. Gordon and American folksong scholarship

Kodish, Debora G. (1977) Good friends and bad enemies: Robert W. Gordon and American folksong scholarship. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Robert W. Gordon was a pioneer American folklorist whose work has remained largely unknown to contemporary American folklorists. Gordon was born in 1888 in Maine, brought up in New England and trained as a folklorist at Harvard by Kittredge. He abandoned a career as a university professor and managed to make a living as the first professional folklorist in the United States between 1925 and 1933. It was primarily during these years that Gordon used the popular media and extensive field trips to bring together what was then the largest and most diverse collection of American folksongs ever made by a single person. Gordon continually conceived of his work on a grand scale and in 1928 established the first national center for the study of folksong - the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. This thesis uses Gordon's own publications, his voluminous correspondence, interviews and some secondary sources, to provide a chronological account of Gordon, his life, work, successes and failures. -- Gordon proceeded with a rigorous scientific approach and maintained a developmental theory of the growth of folksong. He sought to contribute to the advance of folklore scholarship by answering the basic and vital questions of the discipline. To do so, he formed and tested hypotheses and adopted a broad and inclusive approach. This thesis examines the theories and methods by which Gordon worked and discusses the social, cultural and historic contexts which framed his efforts.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7801
Item ID: 7801
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 276-293.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1977
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Gordon, Robert Winslow; Folk songs

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