By Sarah Joanne Davies
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Extra info for An investigation into attitudes towards illegitimate birth as evidenced in the folklore of South West England
This would be seen as problematic by scholars such as Gammon and Pickering ("The Past") who have highlighted both the complexity of the above relationship and the importance of grounding songs within specific soclo-historical contexts. Preston's consideration of the bearing of performance on what otherwise appears to be a rather androcentric interpretation of song is unfortunately rather brief, the sex of the performer being the main variable considered. Using contemporary variants of her songs, she demonstrates how female performances of songs may have had "a subversive intent that undercuts the assertion of male dominance", recontextualising meaning through the use of female narration (337).
Further examples, such as "A Pleasant New Court Song Between a Young Courtier and a Country Lass", are also used. However, Preston's argument loses its impact in relation to these later examples because the same standards do not seem to be applied to male 29 and female protagonists alike. Preston argues that certain individuals would experience a degree of compromise in singing "The Spotted Cow". We might therefore expect it to appeal more to particular social groups, but intriguingly, evidence seems to suggest that this was not the case, the song being sung amongst people of all three combinations of register affiliation.
This is because "that self same mobility which allows sailors to return to a reborn union - or, for that matter, even to arrive on the scene as potential partners in the first place - also permits them to easily escape an unwanted permanent union" (33). A maiden's most noticeable trait, on the other hand, is her state of high personal risk, especially in love relationships. . in keeping with the high-risk statutes of their maidenhood in romantic involvements, girls are fated almost inevitably either to the ecstasy of a marital union or to the agony of being parted from their true lovers (32).