"Ballad of the downfall of the fish-house" (anonymous): a forensic approach to finding the author and meaning from history and critical discourse analysis

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Department of History, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus


Following the physical collapse of the Fish-Market on King’s Wharf in Port of Spain circa 1836, an anonymous poet published “Ballad of the Downfall of the Fish-House,” a satirical commentary on the vestiges of slavery and the administrative blunders of the Port of Spain Cabildo. Therefore, in order to find the meaning and author of this anonymous text, I adapt Fairclough’s model of Critical Discourse Analysis. My approach details evidence from the sociohistorical context, the discursive context of surrounding editorials in the Port of Spain Gazette, and the linguistic context of language use (discourse) in the poem, in relation to other historiographic works. From all evidence, the anonymous author of “Ballad of the Downfall of the Fish-House” is Edward Lanza Joseph, the author of History of Trinidad and Warner Arundell. In this context, the poem initiates a compilation of poetic works by E. L. Joseph, which were published anonymously in the nineteenth century.


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Ballads--Criticism and interpretation


Figuera,Renée. " "Ballad of the Downfall of the Fish-house" (Anonymous): A Forensic Approach to Finding the Author and Meaning from History and Critical Discourse Analysis." History in Action Online-Only Journal 1.1 (2010): n.pag.Web.