This article explores how and why a particular vision of folk song became widely popular during the early twentieth century. Focusing on Cecil J. Sharp, I show that despite severe criticism from contemporaries, his beliefs won out as the dominant paradigm for the understanding of folk music. Interrogating the politics of his theorizing, moreover, I draw out the hitherto neglected imbrications between folk revivalism and fascist ideology. Seen as dialectical tools capable of reforming citizens through the expressive contours of their racial birthright, I argue, collected songs and dances were repurposed in the service of forging a national socialist consciousness.

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