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Accepted Paper:

Vernacular literati in search of audience: folklore collecting as an alternative public space  
Katre Kikas (Estonian Literary Museum)

Paper short abstract:

In my presentation I am going to look at the ways some of the participants of the folklore collecting campaigns (1890s Estonia) made use of the framework of collecting as an alternative public space to express ideas they felt to be marginalized.

Paper long abstract:

19th century was an era of modernization in Estonia. One aspect of this modernization was interest in the nation’s past, which brought about widespread folklore collecting campaigns in the last decade of the century. Collecting campaigns engaged people of backgrounds quite varied. There were those for whom writing was a daily activity (teachers, writers, students) and those whose writing experience was rather limited. Thanks to the latter there is a considerable layer of vernacular literacy in the corpus.

Vernacular literacy in the broadest sense means literate activities that are not connected to institutions aiming to spread and control literacy matters. The term covers the formal qualities (heterography, idiosyncratic sentences etc) as well as content of the texts. In my paper I am going to study the writings of some of the collectors which diverge considerably from the advice given by the organizers of the collecting campaigns. We can say that those collectors used the frameworks of the collecting campaign as a kind of alternative public space. Arguably they felt that their views about past and present are being marginalized in the public, and so they turned the collecting campaign into a medium for expressing them.

Folklorists have often neglected those writings as unworthy of study, noting that those writers totally misunderstood the idea of the collecting campaigns. However, from the angle of vernacular literacy we can also scrutinze their active search for possibilities to express ideas dear to them, and enquire why did they choose folklore collecting as a channel.

Panel Inte07b
Lost in translation: peasant subaltern agency and hegemonic power II
  Session 1 Thursday 24 June, 2021, -