Joy Fraser is Assistant Professor of English and Associate Director of the Folklore Studies program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. She is completing a book tracing the cultural history of haggis as a contested symbol of Scottishness, provisionally entitled Addressing the Haggis: Culture and Contestation in the Making of Scotland’s National Dish. For the past several years, she has also been researching the relationship between Christmas mumming, violence, and the law in nineteenth-century Newfoundland.
In this episode, we focus on the murder of Isaac Mercer in Bay Roberts, who was beset upon by mummers, hit with a hatchet, and who died of his wounds. We explore the background of mummering traditions in Newfoundland, differences in mummering traditions in different communities, the events surrounding the murder case, her research using court case records at local archives, the licensing and eventual banning of mummering, and the link between mummering and violence in the historical period.
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