Event Title

A Call to Investigation: The Discovery of Lost British History through Oral Traditions in Detective Fiction

Presenter Information

Jenna Bozarth

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Art & Letters

Major

English

Session Number

3

Location

RM 216

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Elena Ramirez

Juror Names

Moderator: Dr. Jennifer Anderson

Start Date

5-18-2017 5:30 PM

End Date

5-18-2017 5:50 PM

Abstract

The British are known to be great collectors of ancient artifacts and are deeply interested in their own connections to the past. Though, when a nation is faced with the loss of documented history through destructive events all that remains are oral accounts of the past. Oral literature is often painted as less valid than its written counterpart, but Two British writers M.R. James and Arthur Conan Doyle use detective fiction to acknowledge that oral traditions can be the key to discovering lost history. This paper argues that the authors use a ‘call to investigate’ rather than the better known ‘call to adventure’ to appeal to late 19th and early 20th century sentiments of British nationalism. Previously, this search for lost origins has been manifested in literature as British lost world fiction novels where characters find similarities between their counterparts abroad and their British brethren through shared concepts of masculinity and imperialism (Deane). This presentation however, will analyze how M.R. James’ “A Warning to the Curious” (1925) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” (1893) validate seemingly trivial oral traditions that ultimately lead to the discoveries of ancient artifacts from the Medieval and Restoration periods respectively. Although, the research centers on fiction the model set by James and Doyle for discovering real elements of the past by investigating folktales and other oral traditions as containing truths can be applied to the present-day search for lost history.

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May 18th, 5:30 PM May 18th, 5:50 PM

A Call to Investigation: The Discovery of Lost British History through Oral Traditions in Detective Fiction

RM 216

The British are known to be great collectors of ancient artifacts and are deeply interested in their own connections to the past. Though, when a nation is faced with the loss of documented history through destructive events all that remains are oral accounts of the past. Oral literature is often painted as less valid than its written counterpart, but Two British writers M.R. James and Arthur Conan Doyle use detective fiction to acknowledge that oral traditions can be the key to discovering lost history. This paper argues that the authors use a ‘call to investigate’ rather than the better known ‘call to adventure’ to appeal to late 19th and early 20th century sentiments of British nationalism. Previously, this search for lost origins has been manifested in literature as British lost world fiction novels where characters find similarities between their counterparts abroad and their British brethren through shared concepts of masculinity and imperialism (Deane). This presentation however, will analyze how M.R. James’ “A Warning to the Curious” (1925) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” (1893) validate seemingly trivial oral traditions that ultimately lead to the discoveries of ancient artifacts from the Medieval and Restoration periods respectively. Although, the research centers on fiction the model set by James and Doyle for discovering real elements of the past by investigating folktales and other oral traditions as containing truths can be applied to the present-day search for lost history.