The Dragon of Wantley: A Tale of Many Genres


M. Lee Alexander (William & Mary)

The rowdy Dragon of Wantley has slithered through a number of generic variants over the centuries: starting as a Yorkshire family legend in the early 1600s, then transferring to local legend, to popular ballad (1685), and then morphing from folkloric forms into popular culture genres of riotous burletta, holiday pantomime, popular novel, and finally a revived opera in the 21st century. It’s also appeared in material forms including woodblock illustrations and stone carvings. This study traces the dragon’s tumultuous journey from dangerous menace representing landowner greed to figure of fun and ridicule getting his just desserts to restore social norms.

Part of 62-03 Historical and Political Analysis of Folk Narrative, Saturday, October 23, 10:30 am–12:00 pm