Hood in Popular Culture:
Transgression, and Justice
edited by Thomas Hahn
Transformations of Robin Hood"
1st international conference of Robin Hood studies
of Rochester -- October 1997.
is a double spotlight of sorts.
there's a book that you can buy or check out of an academic library. The
second part of the spotlight is about an experience in the past, a wonderful
conference that left me with fond memories. I wish you could access that
conference as easily as you can read the book of papers that were presented
at the conference.
Hood in Popular Culture: Violence, Transgression and Justice is a new
collection of the papers that were originally presented at the 1997 conference
on Robin Hood studies. It's a fascinating collection of articles on a wide
variety of subjects.
H. Ohlgren's paper "The 'Marchaunt' of Sherwood: Mercantile Ideology in
Gest of Robyn Hode" takes a microscope to one of the earliest Robin
Hood ballads, and it makes some intriguing suggestions about who the ballad
was originally intended for. And while other papers examine some of the
ballads, many other aspects of the legend are explored in the rest of the
Harty takes a look at Robin Hood films; Sherron Lux writes on the Maid
Marians in film and television, and Laura Blunk examines the popular Robin
of Sherwood television series. David Lampe explores Robin Hood novels.
Sarah Beach's paper is on Green Arrow, a comic book superhero inspired
by the legend. Linda Troost looks at 18th century Robin Hood musicals,
Yoshiko Ueno writes about a 1927 radically left-wing play from Japan, and
Gary Yershon shares his experiences in crafting a modern day Robin Hood
play. Lorraine Stock examines Green Man imagery in the legend, and Kelly
DeVries looks at longbow archery. Marcus Smith and Julian Wasserman provide
a fascinating paper "In the Sheriff's Court: Robin Hood and American Jurisprudence,
Or Who Is This Robin Hood and Why Are All Those Lawyers Saying Such Nasty
Things about Him?" And then there are papers by Frank Abbott, Michael Eaton,
Stuart Kane, John Marshall, Evelyn Perry and Lois Potter as well.
this collection includes the plenary addresses by two of the foremost Robin
Hood experts. Professor R.B. (Barrie) Dobson's Rymes of Robyn Hood
ballad collection has been a classic for years. His contribution
to this volume is "Robin Hood: The Genesis of a Popular Hero" -- an overview
of the possible origins of the Robin Hood legend, written with more insight
than the various real Robin Hood books out there.
Stephen Knight, who wrote a landmark 1994 book on Robin Hood and has edited
various anthologies since then, uses his address to look at where Robin
Hood scholarship at present and offers suggestions about lines of inquiry
that should be perused in the future. His article is called "Which Way
to the Forest? Directions in Robin Hood Studies".
of the papers in this book are very readable. Some, however, I do find
a bit "literary" for my tastes. But overall, Robin Hood in Popular Culture
is an informative and interesting collection of Robin Hood studies.
the book is too specialist for the general reader. If you're looking for
a good introduction to the legend, I'd recommend works like Stephen Knight's
Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw, J.C. Holt's
Robin Hood and R.B. Dobson and J. Taylor's Rymes of Robyn Hood.
But if you're familiar with those books and want to learn more, Robin
Hood in Popular Culture is worth reading. I also think it would be
a good book for specialists in related disciplines to consult. For example,
an expert in 18th century theatre would enjoy Linda Troost's look at the
Robin Hood musicals of that time.
great an addition to Robin Hood studies as this book is, it's really (and
unavoidably so) a pale shadow of the conference that inspired it.
October 16-18, 1997, the University of Rochester held the first international
conference of Robin Hood studies, "Playing with Transgression: Cultural
Transformations of Robin Hood". Nearly all the papers presented at the
conference were collected in the volume discussed above, but there are
many things that can't be preserved on paper or online.
example, there were the fine performances -- both of music and drama. On
the first day of the conference, the Eastman school of music staged a concert
of Robin Hood music throughout the centuries. There were selections from
Adam de la Halle's 13th century pastoral about a shepherd and shepherdess
named Robin and Marion, classic Robin Hood ballads, and some wonderful
numbers from Reginald de Koven's 1890 comic opera Robin Hood. We
all hoped that a tape or CD would be made available, but ultimately that
the second day of the conference, drama students performed the early play
Robin Hood and the Friar (circa 1560). It was a delightful recreation
of the folk drama once popular in England, complete with a lady (possibly
Marian) played by a man in drag. Also, we were treated to Robin Hood ballads
in America -- not merely a paper on the ballads. Instead they were performed
and we were encouraged to sing-a-long.
on the final day of the conference, some of the same students which brought
de Koven's opera to life performed scenes from Gary Yershon's enjoyable
the conference was the only North American stop for Kevin Carpenter's superb
exhibition of all things Robin Hood. It had everything from old ballads
to modern children's books from 26 different countries to plays to action
figures to wall hangings based on Louis Rhead's classic illustrations.
even better than the concerts, plays, exhibitions and the plays -- there
were the people. I got to chat socially with people like Barrie Dobson,
a man whose work I'd admired for a decade. Everyone made me feel welcome.
I made a lot of new friends and that conference, and we still stay in touch.
of us re-assembled at Nottingham in 1999 for the second conference. The
camaraderie was still there. Conference goers still tell me how the Rochester
conference was one of the best conferences ever. We still look back on
the conference with fond memories. And that's the true legacy of those
three days in Rochester -- not merely a book that enhances Robin Hood studies,
but lasting friendships and future conferences.
IN POPULAR CULTURE; VIOLENCE, TRANSGRESSION, AND CULTURE,
edited by Thomas Hahn. This book collects the papers from
the first International Conference for Robin Hood Studies,
held in 1997. I attended this conference, and can assure you
the volume will contain several excellent papers -- including
plenary addresses by Stephen Knight and Barrie Dobson, as well
as a very important paper by Thomas Ohlgren. The book covers Robin
Hood ballads, poems, novels, theatre, television, film and more.
Buy it on Amazon.com
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