Adrian Daub (Stanford University, German Studies and Comparative Literature): “The Ballad and its Narratives”
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the generic description “ballad” could be appended to any number of aesthetic objects – a poem as much as a wordless piece for solo piano, program music and opera, stage play and oratorio. Nowhere was this range as capacious as in the German-speaking world. This paper traces what connected balladry across these different media, but also poses a broader question: what accounted for the sudden expansion of this range in the 1830s, 1840s and beyond? The ballad form, it argues, helped a certain imaginary of the modern reading, listening, theater-going public to draw on supposed ancient forebears, and it addressed and explored anxieties around the expansion and democratization of literary and musical audiences.
Reception to follow.