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A Florida Fiddler, A Florida Fiddler, 0817315535, 0-8173-1553-5, 978-0-8173-1553-5, 9780817315535, , , A Florida Fiddler, 0817381937, 0-8173-8193-7, 978-0-8173-8193-6, 9780817381936, , , A Florida Fiddler, 0817357610, 0-8173-5761-0, 978-0-8173-5761-0, 9780817357610,

A Florida Fiddler
The Life and Times of Richard Seaman
Gregory Hansen

E Book
2009. 264 pp.
Price:  $24.95 d
Quality Paper
2013. 264 pp.
Price:  $24.95 s

A musical life as glorious metaphor for Florida's cultural landscape

This biography of 97-year-old Richard Seaman, who grew up in Kissimmee Park, Florida, relies on oral history and folklore research to define the place of musicianship and storytelling in the state's history from one artist's perspective. Gregory Hansen presents Seaman’s assessment of Florida’s changing cultural landscape through his tall tales, personal experience narratives, legends, fiddle tune repertory, and descriptions of daily life.

Seaman’s childhood memories of fiddling performances and rural dances explain the role such gatherings played in building and maintaining social order within the community. As an adult, Seaman moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he worked as a machinist and performed with his family band. The evolution of his musical repertory from the early 1920s through the 1950s provides a resource for reconstructing social life in the rural south and for understanding how changes in musical style reflect the state's increasingly urban social structure. Hansen includes a set of Seaman's fiddle tunes, transcribed for the benefit of performer and researcher alike. The thirty tall tales included in the volume constitute a representative sample of Florida’s oral tradition in the early years of the 20th century.

Gregory Hansen is Associate Professor of English and Folklore at Arkansas State University.
“Hansen has written a masterful study that examines not just a fiddler from Florida, but also the nature of folk festivals, folklore in education programs, public sector work, and the history and culture of Florida. This is a rare book that successfully implicates larger questions by studying the microcosm. A topnotch book. Highly recommended.”

“Hansen provides a thoughtful, multi-faceted portrait of the life and repertoire of fiddler, storyteller, and retired railroad worker Richard Seaman. . . . [He] crafts his text as a series of closely observed vignettes and character aspects to unfold the story and the significance of a long, rich, and deeply situated life.”
Journal of Folklore Research
“This work is a good primer for readers interested in performance studies under the umbrella of public folklore. Too often, public folklore work is accused of being under-analyzed and untheoretical, but Gregory Hansen’s A Florida Fiddler, straightforward in its delivery, does an excellent job of weaving his fieldwork in with theoretical approaches, from sociolinguistics to performance theory to tale-typing. . . . This is a valuable examination of the dynamic between a traditional performer and his expressive culture.”
Western Folklore
“An engaging volume . . . The strategy of looking at regional history from the grassroots out is an excellent approach, and both Richard Seaman as a fiddler-raconteur and Greg Hansen as a scholar make the approach sparkle in its execution.”
—Alan Jabbour, Founding Director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
All of the great concerns of the scholar come profoundly to the ground in the study of artists like Richard Seaman. In presenting his repertory of tales and tunes, in combining interviews and observations into his biography, Gregory Hansen has made a superb contribution to folkloristic studies of individual performers. Gracefully written, richly detailed, Hansen's book is a treasure, and Seaman will now become one of the key figures in our understanding of the American tradition.—Henry Glassie, Indiana University