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Publication launched in honour of Dr. Peter NarvŠez

By Janet Harron | Jan. 17, 2012

Dr. Peter Narváez, who passed away in November 2011 at the age of 69, was a renowned scholar and a staple of the local music scene. He came to Memorial in 1974 as a lecturer in the Department of Folklore and an assistant archivist at MUNFLA (Memorial University Folklore Archive). He was named an honorary research professor and retired in 2005.

In Sonny’s Dream: Essays on Newfoundland Folklore and Popular Culture, the Department of Folklore presents updated versions of 15 of his most important essays. Although most of the articles have been previously published, Dr. Narváez’s colleagues in the Department of Folklore and in the School of Music felt that they should be more accessible. The publication of the book was proposed as a kind of festschrift in his honour. Dr. Narváez agreed to the project and revised the articles throughout 2011 to give the book an updated perspective.  

Sonny’s Dream represents a lifetime of fruitful scholarship, bringing together influential work in folk narrative, custom, vernacular music and popular culture. An eclectic scholar, Dr. Narváez brought new perspectives to old topics from fairy lore to Irish wakes, while at the same time pushing disciplinary boundaries in his examinations of occupational folklore within white collar contexts and musical responses to the cod moratorium. All of the essays in Sonny’s Dream investigate folklore’s intersections with class, hegemony and nostalgia.  

“Much of Peter’s work, such as his early treatments of popular culture and his coining of the term "vernacular song," was pioneering,” said Dr. Diane Tye, head of the department. “This is an important collection, not only for students of folklore but anyone interested in Newfoundland and Labrador’s cultural life.”

Sonny’s Dream will be launched on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. at Bitters Pub. Copies of the book will be available for sale. It retails for $34.95 and can also be purchased directly from the Department of Folklore.