From “Sir Patrick Spens” to “Tangled Up in Blue,” ballads tell stories of sunken ships, ghostly lovers, highwaymen, and murderers. Some ballads are set to music, while others, such as “Casey at the Bat,” are part of literature. Trace the Anglo-Celtic ballad tradition with its roots in medieval Britain. Explore its evolution in America as ballads moved west with cowboys and settlers and south to become part of African-American folk culture. End with modern balladeers such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Jannie Dresser holds an M.F.A. from Mills College, where she studied with Chana Bloch and Diana O’Hehir. She works as an editor, writer, and small press publisher and has taught poetry for over 30 years.