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Ballads are an intriguing subject for study, not least because of their endless variety. Ballads taken down or recorded from singers separated by centuries in time and by hundreds of kilometres in distance, are both different and yet recognizably the same. In this book, David Atkinson examines the ways in which the body of ballads known in England make reference both to ballads from elsewhere and to other English folk songs. The book outlines current theoretical directions in ballad scholarship: structuralism, traditional referentiality, genre and context, print and oral transmission, and the theory of tradition and revival. These are combined to offer readers a method of approaching the central issue in ballad studies - the creation of meaning(s) out of ballad texts.