Tam Lin: The Call for Participation
14 August 2003
a message from your webmistress
This website has been a creation of mine done out of curiosity, out of a need to collect information, and out of a basic love of the story. It is not, however, the work of a scholar or an expert. It is in need of help.
What it needs is to have some more scholarly influences, better research, and more perspectives than just mine. This is partly due to the fact that I can only do so much, given my background (my education has been much more heavily focused on the sciences than the arts) and my general lack of resources. To put it bluntly, almost everything I know is already on the website, and I simply do not know nearly as much as I'd wish to know. Partly this is also because I feel, quite strongly, that the topic is not be mine alone and it would be a shame not present the knowledge of others. In discussions around the net I've met a lot of folks who have a stronger background in the sort of information pertinent to Tam Lin than I could hope to achieve without returning to school (not something I can foresee in the near future, sadly enough). I've been stunned when folks with backgrounds in serious academic enquiry have complimented this site, when I would have thought it was obvious that I do not know what I am doing. I've met enough people who can comfortably cite sources I would take years to understand, and I think it's a waste to have the exploration of the topic limited by my scant knowledge base. If you know something related to the tale of Tam Lin, I'm interested in hearing it and would be likely be interested in presenting it on my website.
I know there is a wide community out there that uses this website for reference. I'm asking that community to help make this website stronger. The comments I've received from people over the years surprise me with the vast areas of knowledge about which I know nothing at all. Having others who know a great deal more than I about the topic send me things is like watching a flashlight fall into a quarry pond. For a little while I get some greater understanding of the landscape around me, but also serves to further illustrate the depths I have never been able to explore.
So I'm asking if there are others out there who love the story of Tam Lin who feel they might have something to contribute to the website. If you love this topic, do you want to be part of it?
Things you Can Do To Help
Please treat these as mere suggestions. These are ideas off of the top of my head, but I'm interested in any other ideas as well.
These, off the top of my head, are some of the things that I know I don't know, or that I feel could benefit from additional voices. There'a great deal more about which I haven't the first inkling, but maybe You do.
- Historical exploration (Scottish History): Who are the families mentioned in Tam Lin? What is the significance of land ownership in Tam Lin in relationship to Scottish tradition? How does Tam Lin reflect Scottish cultural viewpoints? For example, I know that for a long time Scotland's legal requirements for inheritance and marriage were a little more forgiving than further south. A child born out of wedlock could later be made legitimate by the parent's marriage so long as there was no reason they could not have married at the time of conception/birth of the child, such as one of them having been married at the time. Marriage also only required declaration in a public setting, hence the popularity of eloping to Gretna Green in Regency era romances. All of these influence Janet's situation and the context of her relationship with Tam Lin. Could a mortal woman could legally marry a faerie if Tam Lin hadn't been human?
- Historical Perspective (ballads): What is unusual about Tam Lin as a ballad? What are some of the things that make it interesting from a musical perspective? What is its history as a piece of music? Is it a typical piece of music for its time period and/or country of origin?
- Translations: Are you comfortable enough in a second language to translate the tale? I've written up the version of Tam Lin X to serve as an easily-read version capturing the central events for basic translation if anyone wants to use it to generate a non-English version of this ballad, but anyone wishing to create a translation may feel free to use whatever version of the balld suits their style. If you use a particular version as the basis for translation, please let me know.
- Performance Recordings: I try to keep this website within the bounds of copyright law. Therefore I've been unable to present any of the well-known performances of Tam Lin on my website, which I feel is a rather significant omission for a website based on a ballad. If you want to produce a sound clip of the tune or if you/your band would like to promote your version of Tam Lin, I would be most willing to provide webspace for it.
- Book reviews: Most fans of Tam Lin seem to come to it from prose retellings in the sf/fantasy realm or kid's faerie tale books. While many of the books out there have book reviews evaluating them as stories, I'm considering opening up a section reviewing the books as retellings of Tam Lin, which is a slightly different focus. If you've read Pamela Dean's book or Katherine Storr's or Dianne Wynne Jones' or Patricia McKillip's or any of the other stories that use Tam Lin as a basis for the tale, or any of the many other stories that use it as a theme, how well do you think it works as a retelling? What twists does it take? How does it integrate the story into a different setting? What aspects of the story does the author highlight?
Is there anything tied to Tam Lin about which you would have an argument with another informed person? What is a point of debate that interests you? What mysterious do you want to see unraveled?
Is there anything about Tam Lin that makes you go "Ooo!" but isn't on the website?
Is there anything on the sight that makes you think "How can she say that and NOT cover this too?"
Is there an article, a paper, an essay, a book, or anything like that which should be listed, referenced, or reproduced on the site but isn't?
Are there ones you've always wanted to write but never had an audience/publisher?
The only limitations I'll put on this request are that I do not want to violate copyright law, and there are a few areas that I am not interested in exploring at this time. I respect the right of authors to control their work. Please don't ask me to put up pictures or excerpts from books unless you have the permission of the legal owners. In addition, while I quite like short filks and parodies, I don't intend to house fanfiction or full stories/novels on the website, though I will link to other sites to encourage availability. I encourage you to make me aware of stories so I can keep my links up to date. There are some great stories out there, but my primary focus is the historical ballad.
Finally, I try to stay away from material that is overtly sexual or explicit if it doesn't contribute to the knowledge base from an academic standpoint. If you want to talk about the sexual interactions of Janet and Tam Lin as covering the spectrum of passive versus active females, or as indicative of the depiction of women's sexuality in folklore, of rape as sympathetic magic, that's fine and would be a welcome addition to this website. If you want to discuss the dynamics of Janet and Tam Lin purely as a pair engaged in BSDM, well, I'd be willing to link to an outside source but it isn't something I'd be comfortable presenting on my website. This is not a judgement, but merely an attempt to keep the website accessible to as wide an audience as possible, including the under-18 set.
Unfortunately the only reward I could give for anyone's generosity would be my thanks and the recognition of your work on this webspace. This website does not generate income and therefore there's no reward other than participation. Please take this request as a genuine offer to be involved. You can do as little or as much as you like. I'm asking for help, a chance to abuse your generous natures, incite your curiosity, activate your educated minds, anything you want to contribute. Send me a one-line question you've wanted to ask. Send me a page discussing a small tangent on the story. Send me a list of articles citing Tam Lin. Send me your thesis. Anything I use will be presented with my utmost thanks and the attribution of your choice. If your work is sufficiently involved I may simply give you your own area of the website. I'm a curator, not a creator. The website exists to serve the ballad and not my own interests.
Finally, if you want to contribute but can't provide any information, you may, if you wish, send a donation to the webmistress using the button below (paypal). Funds will be used at the discretion of the webmistress, either to help with the website directly (hosting fees, photocopying, so on) or indirectly (keeping the webmistress, who works two jobs, in groceries so she can devote more time to the site). Please don't feel obligated, as the information here is freely given and will continue to be so long as I can keep the electrons hot.
write to abigail at this domain. Please put the words Tam Lin in the subject line to get past the filter.
Tam Lin Balladry
Exploring the Ballad of Tam Lin The Music of Tam Lin Comparing Tam Lin to Other Tales Communicating at Tam Lin Scotland and Tam-Lin.org Tam Lin Oddities Search Tam Lin
© 1997-2004 Abigail Acland for all original works unless otherwise noted.
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