This course will study the media culture built up around the most published and mass-marketed artifact of early modern England: the broadside ballad. The goal is to understand the printed ballad within its quickly changing aesthetic and historical contexts. Topics addressed will include definition (what is a ballad?), formal features (paper, typeface, illustrations; dialogue, answer, confession, etc.), orality (tune and performance), competing genres (specifically, songbooks and chapbooks), themes (in their wide and manifold variety), and collecting practices (specifically by the 17th century Pepys and the 19th century Crawfords). The last third of the class will involve a “practicum,” wherein students will create eight “ballad facsimiles” as part of EBBA’s ongoing archiving of the Crawford ballads and begin formulating an argument for a 7-10 page essay about these, or some of these, ballads within the context of the issues discussed in the course. Essay ideas (in varying stages of development) will be presented for feedback to the entire class in the final course meeting with time for revision before submission to the instructor.