Meredith L. McGill, “What Is a Ballad? Reading for Genre, Format, and Medium” (pp. 156–175)
In this essay I show how definitions of the ballad shift as critics take into account not only the place of ballads within the genre system but also the mediation of nineteenth-century ballads across the full range of popular and elite print formats. Arguing that the ballad is a genre that flourishes with the rise of print, I show how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Wreck of the Hesperus” (1840) exploits the ballad’s multimedia appeal, forgoing the fiction of folk origins and oral transmission to explore the terms of a sensationalist mass culture.
- print format
- poetry and mass culture
- paraliterary genres
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- “The Wreck of the Hesperus”
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