English (United Kingdom)
Jonathan Roper
inglise ja võrdleva rahvaluule vanemteadur


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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 episodically at various dates between 2000 and 2014.

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 editorial boards of Commentationes Archivi Traditionum Popularium Estoniae and the Journal of American Folklore, and on the advisory board of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy. I share the role of Recorder of Dialect and Folklore for the Devonshire Association with J.B. Smith. I am also an associate member of the Folklore Fellows.

Prior to Tartu, I spent much of academic life at the University of Sheffield, and remain an Honorary Research Fellow there.

Selected Publications

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

  • Alliteration and Culture [editor and contributor]. London: Palgrave, 2011.

  • ‘William Barnes en syn Fryske foarfaars’. In Philologia Frisica Anno 2008 (2012): 59-71.

  • ‘Zauberspruch’. In Brednich, Rolf Wilhelm, ed. Enzyklopädie des Märchens. Vol.15. Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter, 2013, 1197-1201.

  • ‘English purisms’. In Victoriographies. Vol. 2,1 (2012): 44-59.

  • ‘Synonymy and rank in alliterative poetry’. In Signs Systems Studies. Vol. 40 (2012): 82-93.

  • ‘England – the land without folklore?’ In Baycroft, Timothy and David Hopkin, eds. Folklore and Nationalism in Europe During the Long Nineteenth Century. Brill: Leiden / Boston, 2012, 227-253.

  • ‘Metre in the Old English ‘Metrical’ Charms’. In Mikhailova, Tatiana, Jonathan Roper, Andrey Toporkov and Dmitry Nikolayev, eds. Oral Charms in Structural and Comparative Light. Moscow: PROBEL-2000, 2011, 116-121.

  • Teaching

    In the Autumn semester of 2014-15, I shall be running a postgraduate seminar on ‘Ethnosemiotics’.

    Recommended Links

    Commentationes Archivi Traditionum Popularium Estoniae
    Folklore Fellows
    ISFNR Committee on Charms, Charmers and Charming
    Journal of American Folklore
    My Academia.edu page
    Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy