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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Scottish Ethnology

Undergraduate Course: Archives and Interpretation (SCET10035)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryArchives and Interpretation explores the use of archives in general, and those of the University of Edinburgh in particular, to inform, inspire and shape performance practice within and between the traditional arts of instrumental music, song, dance and storytelling.
Specifically, the course will:
Facilitate the detailed exploration of the School of Scottish Studies Archives and other resources within the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh
Consider the potential of the range of media forms (e.g. audio, visual, manuscript) which constitute archival holdings for inspiring creative responses
Develop a thorough understanding of the legal and ethical issues relating to engagement with archive material
Provide an understanding of the fieldwork and other processes involved in the creation and curation of archives material
Develop an understanding of the potential for the production of creative artistic responses inspired by archival research and immersion
Course description Archives and interpretation is an opportunity to explore, create and respond to archive material from Edinburgh¿s world-renowned collections. You will contribute to the School of Scottish Studies Archives and develop individual work that focusses on key figures, social contexts, repertoire, historical stylistic and expressive aspects, creative potential, archival ethics and practice.
This course can include topics such as fieldwork ethics, ethics of interpretation (incl. copyright) and cultural appropriation, transcription, basic audio and video editing, the visual archive, active listening and interpretation, production and publication, artists in the archive, personal archives: selfies, bookmarks and voice memos, developing creative response, history of archival practice, archives in a digital age, multimedia performance, authenticity, autobiographical archives and performance, notions of performance style and identity.

The course is delivered through 11 staff-led weekly seminars or workshops (of two hours' duration) held within the School of Scottish Studies Archives at 29 George Square. These explore the theory and practice of archival engagement within the study of the traditional arts of instrumental music, song, dance and storytelling. Students will also engage with relevant reading and multi-media resources, and will undertake close investigation of audio and visual archive materials.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback All participants will receive weekly verbal feedback. Peer feedback and self-feedback via reflective journal are also important aspects of this course. Formal written feedback will be provided following coursework submission both mid-course and on completion of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate understanding of the tools for engagement with traditional arts archives and collections
  2. Reflect on the fieldwork methods and processes required to capture traditional arts materials for deposit in these archives
  3. Demonstrate familiarity with the empirical content of traditional arts archives at the University of Edinburgh, and communicate their potential for inspiring new creative work
  4. Critically evaluate advanced theoretical, conceptual and experiential knowledge and understanding and communicate this through written work and audio or video productions which engage with traditional music, dance or storytelling
  5. Demonstrate the range of skills required to research, script, present and edit an audio production based on archived materials
Reading List
Required Reading

Béhague, G., 1984. Performance practice: ethnomusicological perspectives, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Leary, J.P. 2015. Folksongs of another America: field recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946, Madison, Wisconsin: Atlanta, Georgia: The University of Wisconsin Press ; Dust-to-Digital.

Nelson, Robin. 2013. Practice as Research in the Arts, Palgrave.

Northside Folklore Project, 1998. The archive: journal of the Northside Folklore Project.

Osthoff, Simone. 2009. Performing the Archive: The Transformation of the Archive in Contemporary Art from Repository of Documents to Art Medium Atropos Press, New York.

Schechner, Richard. 2013. Performance Studies: an Introduction (3rd Edition) Routledge.


Andersson, O., 1951. The Revival of Folk Music and Folk Dancing in Finland: authenticity and development. Journal of the International Folk Music Council, 3, p.6.

Anon, 2015. The Re/Collecting Project and Rethinking Archives and Archival Practice. Verge: Studies in Global Asias, 1(2), pp.31-36.

Bleeker, M. et al (eds), 2015. Performance and phenomenology: traditions and transformations. New York; London: Routledge; Taylor and Francis Group.

Blommaert, J. & Jie, D., 2010. Ethnographic fieldwork : a beginner's guide, Bristol; Buffalo: Multilingual Matters.

Burns, Robert G. H., 2007. Continuity, Variation, and Authenticity in the English Folk-Rock Movement. Folk Music Journal, 9(2), pp.192-218.

Castan, Melissa & Debeljak, Julie, 2012. Indigenous peoples' human rights and the Victorian Charter: a framework for reorienting recordkeeping and archival practice. (Report). Archival Science: International Journal on Recorded Information, 12(2), p.213.

Chacko, E. & Menon, R., 2013. Longings and belongings: Indian American youth identity, folk dance competitions, and the construction of 'tradition'. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(1), pp.97-116.

Cho, M.-H., 2012. A Study of Authenticity in Traditional Korean Folk Villages. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 13(2), pp.145-171.

Cremin, T., 1997. Traditional storytelling in the primary classroom., Leamington Spa: Scholastic.

Cueva, M., Kuhnley, R. & Revels, L., 2013. Traditional storytelling embraces technology. Annals Of Behavioral Medicine, 45(s2), p.S6.

Decker, S., 2012. The silence of the archive: post-colonialism and the practice of historical reconstruction from archival evidence. IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc, pp.IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc, 2012.

Friedman, J., 2011. "Archive/Practice": Dance Archives International Symposium. Dance Chronicle, 34(1), pp.138-145.

Georges, R.A. & Jones, M.O., 1980. People studying people: the human element in fieldwork, Berkeley; London: University of California Press.

Gilmore, S., 2000. Doing Culture Work: Negotiating tradition and authenticity in Filipino folk dance. Sociological Perspectives, pp.S21-S41.

Graham, R., 1993. Voice, archive, practice: the textual construction of professional identity. The Journal of Educational Thought, 27(2), pp.186-199.

Graves, T. 1983. Ethnic Artists, Artifacts, and Authenticity: Pennsylvania German and Ukrainian Folk Craft Today. Pioneer America, 15(1), pp.21-33.

Govan, E. et al, 2007. Making a performance: devising histories and contemporary practices. Routledge.

Hamer, A., 2018. Ethics of Archival Practice: New Considerations in the Digital Age. Archivaria, 85, pp.156-179.

Heddon, D., 2008. Autobiography and performance, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jackson, R.J., 1988. Performance practice, medieval to contemporary: a bibliographic guide, New York: Garland.

MacDonald, M.R. et al., 1999. Traditional storytelling today : an international sourcebook, Chicago ; London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers.

Millar, L., 2017. Archives: principles and practices Second., London: Facet.

Moore, S. & Luhr, Eileen, 2011. The new traditionalists: Folk music, authenticity and modernity in Cold War America, 1958-1962, pp. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Revill, G., 2004. Cultural Geographies in Practice: Performing French folk music: dance, authenticity and nonrepresentational theory. Cultural Geographies, 11(2), pp.199-209.

Smith, G. & Brett, J., 1998. Nation, authenticity and social difference in Australian popular music: Folk, country, multicultural. Journal of Australian Studies, 22(58), pp.3-17.

O'Donoghue, B., 2015. Yeats and the Responsible Gathering of Folklore. Etudes Anglaises, 68(4), pp.385-396.

Poecke, Niels & Erasmus School of History, Culture Communication, 2017. Authenticity Revisited : the production, distribution, and consumption of independent folk music in the Netherlands (1993-present), p.2017.

Poljak, D., 2016. Historically-informed Performance in the 20th and 21st centuries: tendencies in theory and practice Arti Musices 47(1-2), pp.193-208.

Pustianaz, M. & Palladini, G., 2017. Lexicon for an affective archive English., Bristol, UK: Intellect.

Wolf-Knuts, U. & Nordic Network of Folklore, 2001. Input & output: the process of fieldwork, archiving and research in folklore, Turku, Finland: Nordic Network of Folklore.

Williams, C., 2006. Managing archives foundations, principles and practice, Oxford: Chandos.

Relevant Journals

International Journal of Traditional Arts
Performance Research
Review of Scottish Culture
Scottish Studies
Scottish Tradition Series, Greentrax Recordings

Archive materials

School of Scottish Studies archive materials (audio, video, photographs, manuscripts) will feature in workshop/seminar materials.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Problem solving
Critical and analytical thinking
Handling complexity and ambiguity
Creativity and inventive thinking
Ethics and social responsibility
Self-awareness and reflection
Independent learning and development
Decision making
Interpersonal skills
Verbal communication and presentation
Basic archival skills
Basic fieldwork skills
Audio recording and editing
Cross-cultural communication
Written communications
Including the ability to:
create, identify and evaluate options in order to solve complex problems in creative and critical work and collaborative projects
analyse facts and situations and apply creative thinking to develop the appropriate solutions and responses
identify and ask questions of their own work and each other in collaboration
analyse, synthesise, critically and methodically appraise ideas and information, recent scholarship and practice to break down complex problems into manageable components.
understand contextually relevant ethics and values, self-awareness, mental flexibility and openness, resilience and a commitment to life-long learning
Course organiserDr Lori Watson
Tel: (0131 6)50 8415
Course secretaryMrs Vivien MacNish Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3528
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