Irish cultural historian, author to lecture about folklore

Combining folklore and history, a celebrated historian and author will be coming to Marshall University Tuesday, Oct. 15 for a lunch and lecture titled “The Use of Folklore in Historical Study,” sponsored by the history department. 

“Dr. Covington is a very innovative scholar. She’s what we would call a cultural historian. She studies different aspects of culture, folklore being one,” William Palmer, a Marshall history professor who organized the event, said about the speaker, Sarah Covington. 

There will be a lunch with Covington at 12 p.m. in Harris Hall 148, followed by a talk at 3 p.m. in Harris Hall 149. Both events are free and open to the public. 

Covington is about to release a new book, titled “Remembering Oliver Cromwell.” 

 “Oliver Cromwell was a key figure of the English Revolution in the 1640s, and her (Covington’s) book is an important contribution to what’s sometimes called ‘history in memory,’” Palmer said. “Sometimes how an event or a person is remembered is as important as what actually happened.” 

Covington is also the author of other books, including “Trail of Martydom: Persecution and Resistance in Sixteenth Century England” and “Wounds, Flesh and Metaphor in Seventeenth Century England.”

“Her first book was about martyrs, people who were willing to die for their faith, and kind of a look at them, and also people who were willing to execute them for being of the wrong faith,” Palmer said. “I thought it was a really exciting book. She also has an article, a new collection on early modern Ireland, ‘Dung Beetles and the Vulgar Traditions: Applying Folkloric Sources and Methods to Early Modern Ireland.’ I don’t know about you, but that sounds kind of interesting to me.”

Palmer said he decided to invite Covington to Marshall because the history department had excess money due to online classes, and faculty was able to decide individually what they wanted to do with it. 

“A lot of people used it to travel to scholarly meetings, and I decided to bring in an interesting historian,” Palmer said. 

Palmer said he would encourage students and community members to view the talk because it will be interesting and may provide a learning experience for students. 

“She’s a very distinguished historian,” Palmer said. “I think it’s always good for students to get different perspectives, and you know, kind of outside points of view, see a real top-of-the-line pro in action.” 

Summer Jewell can be contacted at [email protected]