Kenneth Peacock's Songs of the Newfoundland outports: the cultural politics of a Newfoundland song collection

Kearney Guigné, Anna (2004) Kenneth Peacock's Songs of the Newfoundland outports: the cultural politics of a Newfoundland song collection. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Between 1951 and 1961, under the influence of anthropologist Marius Barbeau, Kenneth Howard Peacock (1923-2000), a classically trained musician and composer from Ontario, visited Newfoundland six times on behalf of the National Museum of Canada to collect folksongs, later producing a three-volume work, Songs of the Newfoundland Outports (1965). While Peacock's work has been celebrated by many, his approach to folk culture documentation has often concerned scholars. This study articulates the socio-cultural impact of Outports in Newfoundland and Canada by outlining to persons who have misunderstood Peacock's research what he was trying to accomplish. It takes into account the status of folklore research at the National Museum in the 1950s and the conditions under which Peacock carried out this work. It provides a critical review of Peacock's Newfoundland fieldwork with a view to better understanding his motivations for creating Outports and his treatment of the materials he collected. Along with such peers as Marins Barbeau, Helen Creighton, Edith Fowke, Tom Kines, Sam Gesser and Alan Mills, Peacock is a noted pioneer contributing substantially to our understanding of Canadian folklore and the shaping of Canadian folklore scholarship. He took over the Newfoundland research from former School of Music classmate Margaret Sargent (McTaggart) in 1951. Leaving his composing career in the distance he devoted the next twenty years to researching the country 's ethnic and native musical traditions. This study takes into consideration the cultural politics of the day such as National Museum policies and directions at the time and how the growth of the Canadian folk revival during the1950s and '60s influenced his work. It considers the dynamic relations between Peacock and other individuals who had a vested interest in documenting and presenting Newfoundland culture including Maud Karpeles and folk revivalist Ralph Rinzler. Although Peacock's representation of Newfoundland's folk culture tended to be overly-romanticized, reflecting his Toronto upbringing, his work has had a long-lasting impact. It later reshaped Newfoundlanders' views of the extent of their own musical traditions and contributed to the Newfoundland-centered folk revival. As a revivalist Peacock was driven to see that music from his field research would be made available to Canadians. Analysis of his Newfoundland collection reveals, however, that Peacock edited and reworked both texts and music. This is addressed in the thesis through the creation of a scholarly tool called a "Catalogue of Kenneth Peacock's Music Collection" linking his published and unpublished materials into one useable explanatory unit. New knowledge regarding Peacock's life and times facilitates our understanding of this man's immense contribution to both Newfoundland and Canadian folklore scholarship while at the same time allowing researchers to make greater use of the materials he so diligently collected.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 11637
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 670-745.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: May 2004
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Peacock, Kenneth, 1922--Songs of the Newfoundland outports; Folk music--Newfoundland and Labrador; Folklore--Newfoundland and Labrador; Folklorists--Newfoundland and Labrador; Music and folklore

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