English (United Kingdom)
Jonathan Roper


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BA, Keele; MA, Sheffield; PhD, Sheffield

Research Interests

My academic research to date has mainly focused on traditional linguistic genres such as verbal charms and riddles. My interest encompasses both texts and practice, i.e. charms and charming, riddles and riddling, as well as the people involved, the charmers and the charmed, the riddlers and the riddlees. I have organised international conferences on the topic, and established an organisation within the International Society for Folk Narrative Research to encourage and co-ordinate charms research.

Another area of fascination is that of the historical and present-day dialects of south-east and central southern England and of the far east of Canada (Newfoundland, Labrador, the lower North Shore of Quebec). I have conducted fieldwork in the latter areas between 1999 and 2006 under the auspices of the Institute for Folk Studies in Britain and Canada.

As well as the written word, I am increasingly interested in ethnographic film as a research medium. This has led to the production of three films, one on mumming, the other on fortune-telling, and one ’portrait’ of a traditional singer.

Recent Activities

I am a member of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISNFR) and I chair their committee on Charms, Charmers and Charming. I serve on the Committee of the Folklore Society, and on the Editorial Board of Commentationes Archivi Traditionum Popularium Estoniae and the Journal of American Folklore. I am also an associate member of the Folklore Fellows.

I spent much of academic life prior to Tartu at the University of Sheffield, and remain an Honorary Research Fellow at the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition (NATCECT) there.

I am currently editing a book on alliteration for Palgrave Macmillan.

Selected Publications

  • English Verbal Charms (Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2005) (FFC 288)

  • Charms, Charmers and Charming [editor and contributor] (London: Palgrave, 2008).

  • Charms and Charming in Europe [editor and contributor] (London: Palgrave, 2004).

  • ‘Wettbetrug (ATU 1551)’ in ed. Uther, Hans-Jörg, et al., Enzyklopädie des Märchens, vol. 14 (forthcoming 2010).

  • ‘On Finnic and English Alliterative Metres’ in ed. Kilpiö, Matti, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka, Jane Roberts, and Olga Timofeeva 'The Anglo-Saxons and the North' (Tempe: ACMRS, 2009).

  • ‘Sussex Glossarists and their Illustrative Quotations’ in Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 145 (2007), 181-94.

  • ‘Thoms and the Unachieved “Folk-Lore of England”’ in Folklore, vol. 118, no.2 (2007), 203-216.

  • ‘Charms, Change and Memory: some principles underlying variation in Estonian Charm-traditions’ in The Electronic Journal of Folklore, vol. 9 (December 1998), 51-70.

  • Teaching

    In the Autumn semester of 2010-11, I shall be running a postgraduate seminars on ’Concepts and Methods of Folkloristics’ and 'Folklore - Common Ground and Controversies: Dundes/Honko'.

    Recommended Links

    Commentationes Archivi Traditionum Popularium Estoniae
    Folklore Fellows
    The Folklore Society
    ISFNR Committee on Charms, Charmers and Charming
    Journal of American Folklore
    National Centre for English Cultural Tradition
    My Academia.edu page