Thursday, 17 September 2009

Ozark Mountain Céilí Presentation

One of the presenters at the upcoming Missouri State University-West Plains Ozarks Studies Symposium will be the lovely and very talented, Julie Henigan. The event will be in Springfield, Missouri, on September 24-26, 2009 at the West Plains Civic Center. If you would like more information, please contact Matt Meacham or Leigh Adams.

Julie Henigan discusses her upcoming presentation below:

In my presentation at the 2009 Ozarks Symposium in West Plains, Missouri, I will compare the house entertainments of Ireland and the Ozarks, demonstrating points of analogy between the social and music-making traditions of both, and demonstrating the possible cultural retention of Old World traditions in the New. In Ireland, these traditions range from informal house visits (known variously as céilí, cuaird, or "night-ramble," and including anything from simple conversation, to music, storytelling, song, and dance) to more organized house and barn dances.

In the Ozarks, these have their counterparts in the house dance or "music party." I will discuss the social and musical aspects of these events, noting their previous and current centrality in many traditional communities and their contribution to social cohesiveness and the encouragement of individual and communal artistry. I will also describe their decline since the Second World War and their deliberate revival in both cultures--as well as the emergence of the public house session in Ireland, which has in most places virtually supplanted the older, home-based musical events. Finally, I will discuss the element of human choice or agency in the continuation of these traditions--traditions which, far from being passively preserved, have instead been actively perpetuated by the individuals and communities who engage in them.

Julie Henigan Bio:

Julie Henigan is both a scholar (with a Master's in Folklore and a Ph.D. in English) and a musician, specializing in traditional Irish and American music. She sings unaccompanied, in English and in Irish, and plays guitar, fiddle, five-string banjo, and lap dulcimer. Her scholarly publications include: Folk’ Vs. ‘Literary’ in Eighteenth-Century Irish Song, in Anáil an Bhéil Bheo: Orality and Modern Irish Culture, ed. Nessa Cronin, Seán Crossan, Louis de Paor, and John Eastlake for Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009, as well as articles in journals and magazines like New Hibernia Review, Ulster Folklife, and The Old-Time Herald. She has also contributed articles to The Companion to Traditional Irish Musicand the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Music in Ireland (UCD Press). Her published works are available from Amazon.

Julie is also well known for her excellent Irish style guitar tutor on DADGAD Tuning which she did for Mel Bay Publications and the CD American Stranger, on the Waterbug label. She also appears on an anthology of sean-nós singing (Sean-nós cois Locha, on the Cló Iar-Chonnachta label) recorded at Sean-nós Milwaukee, an American festival featuring traditional singing in the Irish language.

For more information on all of these , please see

In Irish Disapora Studies, the depth and strength of Irish and Scottish cultural roots in the Ozarks region of Missouri and Arkansas do not recieve as much attention as those areas with more recent immigration histories. Julie Henigan life's work is a very good place to start to explore this Ozark cultural continuum which has a lot of input from Ulster.

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