Storytelling revivalism in England and Wales : history, performance and interpretation
This study discusses the storytelling movement in England and Wales as an example of the traditional arts "revival." "Revivals" are qualitatively different from mature traditions, but this distinction eludes theorisation. This creates shortcomings in the literature, which are identified and discussed. It is concluded that mature traditions and "revivals" are both subcategories of traditional milieu. The "revival" is distinguished, firstly, by its attenuated diachronic chains of transmission and synchronic bonds of social cohesion, resulting in a loss of deep aesthetic consensus in the participant group; and, secondly, by its self-traditionalisation: its selfconscious self-presentation as a traditional form socioculturally opposed to a traditionless mainstream modernity. The "revival" is therefore often understood as a nostalgic and symbolic re-enactment of desired sociocultural conditions. The study is an inductive, transparent consideration of storytelling revivalism in England and Wales in the light of this preliminary conclusion, considering three issues: the history of the movement; the whole-group performance of storytelling events; and emic interpretations and understandings of involvement, elicited in interview. The evidence is that storytelling revivalism is part of a long-lived appropriative process transcending sociocultural distinctions; that its performative idioms do not express but mediate - eventually, undermine - its iconoclastic separateness from modernity, integrating the formally "revived" form into the informal mainstream; and that interviews demonstrated nostalgic sociocultural beliefs to be contingent and of secondary importance to aesthetic experience. In conclusion, revivalistic communities indulge selfconscious self-traditionalisation sparingly and reluctantly. Emically, it is an uninteresting implication or a necessary cognitive and behavioural stopgap facilitating a deeper experiential familiarity with the form itself "Revival," although occupying an intellectually enfranchised milieu, is properly a nascent non-intellectual, aesthetic and social form. This conclusion overturns the preliminary conclusion, and suggests the general fallaciousness of assuming that cultural forms are primarily coded representations of sociocultural conditions.