Posted on 28 October 2013
Published by the University of Wales Press in October 2012, Claiming the Streets: Processions and Urban Culture in South Wales, c.1830–1880 by Dr Paul O’Leary has been shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award.
The annual book prize was established in the 1980s by the Folklore Society to commemorate the life and work of the distinguished scholar Katharine Mary Briggs (1898–1980; Society president 1969–72). It aims to encourage the study of folklore, help improve the standard of folklore publications in Britain and Ireland, and to establish the Folklore Society as an arbiter of excellence.
The award is open to all books in English (not translations) on folklore having their first, original and initial publication in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland within the nominations period of that year. For the purposes of the award, 'folklore studies' are interpreted broadly, to include all aspects of traditional and popular culture, narrative, beliefs, customs and folk arts, including studies with a literary, anthropological, linguistic, sociological or geographical bias.
Dr Paul O’Leary’s book is an important new contribution to urban history and our understanding of urban cultures and public space in the nineteenth century. Much of the history of nineteenth-century Wales has been written around political demonstrations and revolt, but Claiming the Streets examines how urban communities in Victorian Wales created inclusive civic identities by using the streets for peaceful processions.
The book describes how towns could form inclusive identities by making the streets available for organised and self-regulating celebrations, exploring how the history of dressing in particular ways and the use of music contributed to the creation of urban culture and including people in public events
Speaking about his delight at being nominated, Dr Paul O’Leary said:
“It is very gratifying to have Claiming the Streets shortlisted for the Katherine Briggs Award. This is an excellent opportunity to record my thanks to the staff of the University of Wales Press for their hard work in getting the book into print. It has been a pleasure to work with them.”
Adding to his comments, the Director of the University of Wales Press Helgard Krause said:
“I am delighted that Dr Paul O’Leary’s groundbreaking work has been deservedly recognised by this nomination, and that the fresh contributions his research continues to make to the study of urban Wales and the field of folk traditions can stand proudly alongside the pioneering insights of the Award’s namesake and dedicated scholar, Katharine Briggs.”
The winner of the award will be announced at a reception following the annual Katharine Briggs Lecture, this year held at the Warburg Institute in London on 6 November. The main prize is the Award itself, but the winning author will also be presented with an engraved goblet and a cheque for £200.