Why these songs of happy cheer?: contemporary Christmas caroling as alternative practice Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Harvester, Hannah Sophia
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of American Studies, Folklore Program
  • This thesis explores how the under-studied practice of Christmas caroling in the United States might be considered oppositional to mainstream understandings of music consumption and social relations. Drawing on interviews with thirty carolers and personal observation, I find that carolers share the motivation of experiencing and engendering an ideal version of community that they see as lacking in their everyday lives. This sense of community is created by a spatial practice that brings a public performance into private spaces; by a kind of singing whose unpolished sound invites participation and makes hearable its non-commercial intent; and by the fact that the majority of people in the U.S., of any age, are likely to know and have emotional connections with both the traditional body of carols and the idea of caroling itself. I also discuss the benefits and limitations of drawing upon a residual tradition as a resource for oppositional practice.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Curriculum of Folklore."
  • Sawin, Patricia
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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