Aspects of supernatural belief, memorate and legend in a contemporary urban environment
The aim of the study is to move away from the antiquarian bias of previous work on the folklore of the supernatural in order to shed light on present day attitudes and concepts. In the past, folkiorists have done very little to collect their own culture, or even to recognise its forms. This has been particularly true of British work on ghost traciitions - the tendency of all but a very few scholars has 'been to retire to the library and compile collections of legends. The present study eschews this approach in favour of fieldwork. There are three main aspects of the work. The early chapters provide a resume of texts on the supernatural, from 1572 to the present day, seeking (i) to construct a cultural history of the concept of the ghost, and (ii) to evaluate the usefulness of these texts to the folklorist or historian of ideas. The central part of the thesis concentrates on presenting a picture of contemporary supernatural beliefs, drawing on data collected in informal interviews with 120 mainly elderly people resident in Gatley, a suburb of Manchester. Two central concepts are analysed - that is, ideas about ghosts, and about knowledge of the future. A third chapter describes miscellaneous beliefs (telepathy, UFOs, 'Luck', and mediumistic powers). In the later chapters attention is drawn to the manner of the storytelling through which these beliefs are expressed. The structure of inemorate is discussed. with particular reference to the Labovian model of personal experience stories. Finally the performative style of the storyteller is analysed in detail to show the basic linguistic resources a storyteller may call upon when structuring private experience into public narrative.