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The Making of A Broadside Ballad

Patricia Fumerton, Andrew Griffin, Carl Stahmer, Authors

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The Making of a Broadside Ballad has many faces – it’s a How-To manual, a collection of critical essays, a documentary, and an archive. This complexity demanded a novel form of publication and a project-specific structure. The project rewards hands-on exploration – you can start clicking and find yourself in the thick of it quite quickly. But here are some helpful lifelines:

1. At any time, you can turn to the menu bar on the left – the stack icon in the top right corner – to find a collection of how-to videos on the making process as well as critical reflections on the process.  

2. In the menu, you’ll find the project divided into sections that correspond with each step of the making process: Papermaking, Woodcutting, Writing Verses, Finding and Singing Tunes, and Printing. Should you click on the “Printing” section, for instance, you’ll find two videos – one efficient and one comprehensive – offering a step-by-step explanation of the work that takes place in a print shop, from the plucking of type and placing it into a compositor’s stick, through the setting of type in a forme, through inking, and printing. Below these videos, each section features two critical essays that unpack the critical insights afforded to humanists who have engaged in that particular step of making.

3. The final sections of the project include a Performance of the ballad – sung to the traditional ballad tune, “Auld Long Syne” – and an Impact section, where each contributor to the volume reflects on the experience of “Making,” explaining the most significant or valuable insight that he or she gained in the process of making a broadside ballad (and this edition), and as a retrospective, one contributor offers an essay-length critique or Epilogue on the making process.
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