The bandit has been an important figure in many cultural traditions, from serious literature to lighter manifestations in poetry, ballads, and popular song. Although elements of romance make stories of this type eminently suitable for such media, there are problems in the sphere of ethics for the bandit’s would-be chronicler. The law exists to protect society from criminal behaviour; a bandit, by definition, is one who has committed such acts. How, then, can writers make actions such as robbery with violence, murder and so on - which society rightly abhors - not only acceptable but, in some way, heroic? The answer, I suggest, is connected to the interpretative frames established by the author, and the patterns of evaluative language used to construct these. Entman (1993: 52) summarised Goffman’s well-known (1974) work on frames as the selection of aspects of reality to make these more salient; thus guiding, among other things, the ‘moral evaluation’, by the receiver, of whatever is described. In order for a bandit or outlaw figure to achieve widespread popularity, I argue, s/he must be seen not as subverting traditional ethical norms, but rather as embodying these. S/he possesses, in fact, ‘heroic’ qualities, in Carlyle’s sense (Carlyle 2006). Judgements are therefore seen to depend on point of view, with popular culture offering mediated interpretations that contrast with more ‘institutional’ positions. The study explores these issues using Martin and White’s Appraisal Framework (2005) to analyse the evaluative patterns used in describing the deeds of some notorious bandits in American song, with examples taken from, amongst others, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. References Carlyle, Thomas 2006. On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history . Kessinger Publishing. Entman, Robert M. 1993. Framing: toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication 43 (4): 51-8. Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame analysis: an essay on the organization of experience. New York, NY et al. Harper & Row. Martin, James R., and White, Peter R.R.2005. The language of evaluation: appraisal in English. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Latter-day Robin Hoods? The bandit in song

PONTON, DOUGLAS
2012

Abstract

The bandit has been an important figure in many cultural traditions, from serious literature to lighter manifestations in poetry, ballads, and popular song. Although elements of romance make stories of this type eminently suitable for such media, there are problems in the sphere of ethics for the bandit’s would-be chronicler. The law exists to protect society from criminal behaviour; a bandit, by definition, is one who has committed such acts. How, then, can writers make actions such as robbery with violence, murder and so on - which society rightly abhors - not only acceptable but, in some way, heroic? The answer, I suggest, is connected to the interpretative frames established by the author, and the patterns of evaluative language used to construct these. Entman (1993: 52) summarised Goffman’s well-known (1974) work on frames as the selection of aspects of reality to make these more salient; thus guiding, among other things, the ‘moral evaluation’, by the receiver, of whatever is described. In order for a bandit or outlaw figure to achieve widespread popularity, I argue, s/he must be seen not as subverting traditional ethical norms, but rather as embodying these. S/he possesses, in fact, ‘heroic’ qualities, in Carlyle’s sense (Carlyle 2006). Judgements are therefore seen to depend on point of view, with popular culture offering mediated interpretations that contrast with more ‘institutional’ positions. The study explores these issues using Martin and White’s Appraisal Framework (2005) to analyse the evaluative patterns used in describing the deeds of some notorious bandits in American song, with examples taken from, amongst others, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. References Carlyle, Thomas 2006. On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history . Kessinger Publishing. Entman, Robert M. 1993. Framing: toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication 43 (4): 51-8. Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame analysis: an essay on the organization of experience. New York, NY et al. Harper & Row. Martin, James R., and White, Peter R.R.2005. The language of evaluation: appraisal in English. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/28965
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