Annotated Bibliography for E-Companion to How to Read an Oral Poem
Abrahams, Roger D. 1962. "Playing the Dozens." Journal of American Folklore, 75: 209-18.
Describes playing the dozens as a competitive verbal strategy that forms "an important part of the linguistic and psychological development" of the urban male African-American adolescents who participate in these "most interesting folkloristic phenomena" (209). Includes 30 examples collected from the a South Philadelphia neighborhood.
A study of African-American folklore collected in the late fifties and early sixties in Camingerly, the local name of a south central Philadelphia neighborhood. Section One describes the context of the texts (the neighborhood and the men and women who inhabit it), illustrates the social and verbal complexities of the verbal contest, a pervasive and important urban genre, and analyzes the nature of African-American folktale heroes such as Stackolee. Section Two consists of the texts themselves, which are of two types: toasts (narrative poems, many of which are presented here in different versions) and jokes.
Alexander, Ronelle. 1998. "South Slavic Traditions." In Foley 1998a: 273-79.
Brief overview of South Slavic oral tradition (which here amounts to heroic epic song, although a couple of paragraphs are devoted to non-epic genres), highlighting in particular the achievements of Vuk Karadzic and of Milman Parry and Albert Lord. The final section offers strategies for using South Slavic epic in the classroom.
Alexiou, Margaret. 1974. The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fundamental work on the Greek tradition of the (women's) sung lament, from the second millennium BCE to the present day. Emphasizing throughout that the lament is a genre in its own right, the author surveys the connections between lament and ritual (Part I), laments for gods and heroes and the relationship of these laments to the Greek state (Part II), and the poetics of the lament itself (Part III).
Arant, Particia. 1981. "Aspects of Oral Style: Russian Traditional Oral Lament." Canadian-American Slavic Studies, 15:42-51.
An analysis of the kinds of repetition (including formulaic elements) characteristic of the composition of the traditional Russian oral lament.
Baker, James N. 1993. "The Presence of the Name: Reading Scripture in an Indonesian Village." In J. Boyarin 1993: 98-138.
An ethnographic study of Muslim practices in a Tidore village of eastern Indonesia, focusing on the importance of proper names in Koranic recitations where the participants have not learned Arabic. Baker concludes their "reading of the written word [is] an essentially oral one" (133).
Balogun, F. Odun. 1995. "Matigari: An African Novel as Oral Performance." Oral Tradition, 10: 129-64.
Argues that Ngugi wa Thiong'o's novel Matigari was deliberately and meticulously written in the style of an African oral epic. To this end, B. considers the oral literary tradition of Gikuyu, the language in which the novel is written, and the epic characteristics of the novel itself (characterization, compositional structure, linguistic and stylistic formulas, and setting).
Barton, David and Mary Hamilton. 1996. "Social and Cognitive Factors in the Historical Elaboration of Writing." In Handbook of Human Symbolic Evolution, ed. by Andrew Lock and Charles R. Peters. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 793-858.
Begins by defining writing and writing-systems—their structures and functions—and then proceeds to outline briefly the history of writing and to trace its development from ancient times. Moves to an examination of literacy and orality and the effects of each, generally, on cognition; concludes by analyzing the social, economic, and technological ramifications of literacy. Six appendices deal with such topics as script evolution and variation in select ancient cultures, number evolution, and cartography.
Bauman, Richard. 1977. Verbal Art as Performance. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.
Part I advocates and fleshes out a performance-centered conception and interpretation of verbal art, asserting above all that performance is a separate mode of communication, a certain way of speaking. B. emphasizes, among other topics, the metacommunication or "keying" of a performance, the importance of structural "patterning" or genre, and the particular "emergent" qualities of individual performances, all of which are culturally specific. Part II consists of several supplementary essays by other authors intended to illustrate in some depth the ideas found in Part I.
Bauman's book emerges after fifteen years of collecting tall tales, anecdotes, hunting stories, and other forms of orally performed verbal art in Texas. He is primarily concerned with the relationships between the narrated events, verbal style, and the context of the oral performance itself (the "narrative events").
Selected from the 550 entries in the International Encyclopedia of Communications, these 37 articles in Bauman's collection fall into three main categories: "Basic Concepts and Analytical Perspective" (including such areas as "Oral Culture," "Genre" and "Play"), "Communicative Media and Expressive Genres" (including the "Folktale," "Proverb," "Riddle," and so on) and "Cultural Performances and Popular Entertainments" (including "Ritual," "Spectacle," "Tourism," and so on).
Introduces and summarily charts the multidisciplinary development of the "ethnography of performance" as a general approach to the study of oral traditions that emphasizes oral performance as a discrete, culturally important, and aesthetically powerful mode of communication. Brief but detailed analyses of two corridos and a Scottish story provide examples of the results possible through this approach.
Reviews the three shifts in critical perspective (a revaluation of the concept of "natural speech," an emphasis on folklore as a mode of communication, and a focus on the use of verbal artistry in the affairs of everyday life) that energized the field of performance studies and the problems that these have engendered. To overcome these problems the authors propose a framework that centers on the history of performance, the larger, systemic processes of which they are a part, and the linking of the language of performance with other modes of language.
One of the fruits of the authors' ethnographic research in Tierra Blanca de Abajo, Mexico, this 1992 Lord and Parry Lecture at the University of Missouri documents various aspects of the preparation for a performance of a coloquio, a traditional Nativity play, in Tierra Blanca, paying particular attention to the dynamics of rehearsal. By examining the "production process" rather than the performance itself, the authors hope to effect a movement toward a "broader, fuller, more substantively processual vantage point on the discursive field within which performances are constituted" (276).
Collection of essays that reflect the variety of research, much of it field research, carried out according to the principles of performative ethnography. The twenty-one contributions are organized into five sections: "Communities and Resources for Performance"; "Community Ground Rules for Performance"; "Speech Acts, Events, and Situations"; "The Shaping of Artistic Structures in Performance"; and "Toward an Ethnology of Speaking."
Beissinger, Margaret H., Jane Tylus, and Susanne Lindgren Wofford. 1999. Eds., Epic Traditions in the Contemporary World: The Poetics of Community. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Collection of stimulating essays that seeks to bridge the seemingly wide gap between oral and written epic. Contributors include Gregory Nagy on epic as a genre; Andrew Ford on early allegorical interpretations of Homer; Susan Slyomovics on the Arab epic poet as a trickster figure; Margaret Beissinger on the development of nineteenth-century Balkan literature through the lenses of gender and nationalism; Philip Hardie on metamorphosis, metaphor, and allegory in Latin epic; Jane Tylus on Tasso and local culture; Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger on epic, gender, and caste in India; Dwight F. Reynolds on genre and participation in the singing of Arabic oral epic; William S. Sax on epic villains in a Himalayan Kaurava cult; Thomas M. Greene, Sheila Murnaghan, and Elaine Fantham on epic and lament; Susanne L. Wofford on aetiology in Virgil, Ovid, and Spenser; and Joseph Farrell on Derek Walcott's Omeros.
Belcher, Stephen. 1999. Epic Traditions of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Excellent, up-to-date introduction to the vast and rich epic traditions of the African continent. Includes chapters on the elements of epic traditions, hunters' traditions and epics, emergent traditions, and the epics of various peoples and regions. Supplemented with an appendix of published African epic texts, notes, and a helpful glossary.
Benson, Larry D. 1966. "The Literary Character of Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry." Publications of the Modern Language Association, 81: 334-41.
Benson cautions readers of Beowulf that an exclusive application of Lord and Parry's oral-formulaic theory may result in an overly narrow understanding of the poem. He prefers an interpretive approach that weds oral-formulaic theory with literary studies.
Bessinger, Jess B. 1978. A Concordance to the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records. Programmed by Philip H. Smith. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
For each Old English word in Krapp and Dobbie's The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records: A Collective Edition this concordance supplies every half-line of verse in which it occurs, along with volume number, abbreviated poem title, and line number. An invaluable aid for the study of Old English poetic formulas. Also included are "Appendix: Headwords in Order of Frequency" and Michael W. Twomey's "Index of Compounds," designed to assist the user in finding words that occur in the second or final position in compounds.
Bjork, Robert E. 1997. "Digressions and Episodes." In Bjork and Niles 1997: 193-212.
Bjork surveys scholarship on the digressions and episodes in Beowulf, in particular the Scyld Scefing (ll. 4-52), Unferth (ll. 499-606), and "Lay of the Last Survivor" (ll. 2247-66) passages. He notes that current scholarship views the digressions and episodes as integral parts of the whole poem rather than as instances of faulty craftsmanship.
The editors state in the Preface that "[t]his handbook lays the foundation for up-to-date, nuanced approaches to Beowulf by supplying a succession of analyses of all major aspects of it from the beginnings to 1994" (i). There are 18 chapters on subjects ranging from textual criticism to sources and analogues to gender roles. The body of each chapter is preceded by a one-paragraph summary and an annotated chronology of related scholarship from the past two centuries.
Bold, Valentina. 2001. "Rude Bard of the North: James Macpherson and the Folklore of Democracy." Journal of American Folklore, 114: 464-77.
The author examines the American poetic and political responses to Macpherson's Ossianic poetry, concluding that (1) the "image of the Celt in America is founded in Macpherson's vision" and that "Macpherson's folklore of an idealized democratic Scotland had an indirect influence on the emergence of an American national identity."
Bonair-Agard, Roger et al. n.d. Burning Down the House: Selected Poems from the Nuyorican Poets Café National Slam Champions. New York: Soft Skull Press.
A substantial collection of poems by Roger Bonair-Agard, Stephen Colman, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Alix Lindsey Olson, and Lynne Procope, the five-person team that won the 1998 National Poetry Slam competition.
Bosley, Keith. 1989. Trans., The Kalevala. New York: Oxford University Press.
This is Bosley's English translation of the Finnish epic that was compiled from the oral poetry of Karelia and transformed into a written oral poem by the scholar Elias Lonnrot. Bosley's translation employs lines of five, seven, and nine syllables to reflect the movement of the original Kalevala meter.
Boyarin, Daniel. 1993. "Placing Reading: Ancient Israel and Medieval Europe." In J. Boyarin 1993: 10-37.
Consideration of ancient and modern ideas and claims surrounding the practice of reading as they apply—and, more importantly, do not apply—to the Hebrew Bible.
Boyarin, Jonathan. 1993. Ed., The Ethnography of Reading. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
A diverse, sometimes demanding collection of ten essays (plus introduction and afterword) that explore the nature, function, and sociocultural status of reading in both the West and the East in ancient, medieval, and modern times using the tools of ethnography and anthropology. Of concern throughout many of the essays is the attempt to refashion the idea of literacy as a deeper, more inclusive, and yet ultimately more problematic concept than traditional definitions have allowed.
Bradbury, Nancy Mason. 1998a. Writing Aloud: Storytelling in Late Medieval England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Examination of the critical aspects of performance, orality, literacy, and genre in our understanding of a spectrum of medieval English metrical romances, from The Tale of Gamelyn and Havelok the Dane to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.
Bradbury discusses how understanding the traditional referentiality of formulaic language "moves another step toward a poetics that will illuminate rather than obscure whatever aesthetic value oral-derived texts may possess" (145). Focusing on the British ballad, she shows how understanding traditional referentiality can give "volume" to an oral-derived text.
Brault, Gerard R.. 1978a. Ed., The Song of Roland: An Analytical Edition. 2 vols. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Brault's two-volume edition is designed as a guide for the serious student of this Old French classic. His lengthy introduction covers a breadth of topics, including the historical event to which the poem alludes, its roots in both popular and learned traditions, its iconographic formulas, and an oral interpretation. The next 400 pages of volume one include a commentary on the poem's laisses, notes on the commentary, a thorough bibliography and index, and black and white plates featuring relevant medieval iconography. Volume two includes the poem itself and Brault's English translation on facing pages, as well as further notes on the manuscript, the text, and the translation.
This article surveys the history of songs "recounting heroic deeds" performed by traveling jongleurs. Brault focuses primarily on The Song of Roland, but also discusses the Pčlerinage de Charlemagne, Chanson de Guillaume, Girart de Roussillon, Renaud de Cambrai, Les Quatre Fils Aymon, and other chansons de geste.
Brault's student edition of this classic Old French poem essentially condenses his 1978 two-volume The Song of Roland: An Analytical Edition (see Brault 1978a) to better serve the needs of the beginning student. An Introduction explores among other things the poem's roots in chansons de geste, history, and legend. As in his analytical edition the poem is presented with the original Old French and Brault's translation on facing pages, but it lacks the commentary and notes more suited to the specialist or scholar.
Bright, William. 1993. Ed., A Coyote Reader. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Anthology of Native American Coyote tales organized into thematic sections, including among others "Coyote the Wanderer," "Coyote the Glutton," "Coyote the Lecher," "Coyote the Outlaw," "Coyote the Clown," and "Coyote the (Horny) Old Man."
Brill de Ramírez, Susan Berry. 1999. Contemporary American Indian Literatures and the Oral Tradition. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Theoretical discussion of the complex nature of oral tradition, centered around the concepts of orality and "conversivity," in American Indian literature (including among several others the work of N. Scott Momaday and Leslie Marmon Silko) and criticism.
Brown, Mary Ellen. 1996. "The Mechanism of the Ancient Ballad: William Motherwell's Explanation." Oral Tradition, 11: 175-89.
A consideration of the life and work of William Motherwell, a nineteenth-century authority on the Scottish ballad.
Burgess, Glyn. 1990. The Song of Roland. New York: Penguin.
Burgess aims for a literal yet "readable" translation; he preserves shifts of tense that may seem odd in English, but reorders the syntax. An Appendix contains selections from the Old French La Chanson de Roland.
Canales, Maria Cristina, and Jane Frances Morrissey. 1996. Eds. and trans., Gracias, Matiox, Thanks, Hermano Pedro: A Trilingual Anthology of Guatemalan Oral Tradition. New York: Garland.
The result of careful cooperative fieldwork, this volume presents a valuable collection of little-known Guatamalan tales about Brother Peter (Hermano Pedro) Betancur in Spanish, Kaqchikel (a Mayan language), and English.
Canfora, Luciano. 1990. The Vanished Library: A Wonder of the Ancient World. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
An imaginatively rendered and innovative history of the great Library of Alexandria that melds scholarship and informed speculation into narrative that reads much like a novel.
Cavallo, Guglielmo and Roger Chartier. 1999. Eds., A History of Reading in the West. Trans. by Lydia G. Cochrane. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Orig. publ. as Histoire de la lecture dans le monde occidental ( Rome-Bari: Giuseppe Laterza & Figli Spa, 1997 and Paris: Editions de Seuil, 1995).
The title says it all: fourteen essays trace the history of Western readers, reading practices, and reading technology, from the invention of silent reading in ancient Greece through the electronic revolutions of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Chao Gejin. 1997. "Mongolian Oral Epic Poetry: An Overview." Oral Tradition, 12: 322-36.
Brief, introductory background covering the scholarship on and the diffusion of Mongolian tuuli, or epic poetry, is followed by separate sections on geographical centers of epic song in China, epic structure and themes, the epic hero, his horse, and the manggus (the hero's traditional, many-headed adversary).
Collins, William A. 1998. Ed. and trans., The Guritan of Radin Suane: A Study of the Besemah Oral Epic from South Sumatra. Leiden: KITLV Press.
Text and translation, with commentary, glossary, and appendices, of a South Sumatran guritan (oral folk epic) collected by the author. The introductory matter provides cultural background and a structural analysis that situates the guritan within the broader field of oral traditional poetics.
Conrad, Joseph L. 1983. "Magic Charms and Healing Rituals in Contemporary Yugoslavia." Southeastern Europe, 10: 99-120.
Excellent introduction, with translated examples, to the oral register of charms in the former Yugoslavia. C. analyzes such traditional features of charms as formulaic introductions, apotropaic formulae, and various other archaic elements, and considers as well these charms' relationship to healing ritual.
Coote, Mary P. 1978. "Serbocroatian Heroic Songs." In Oinas 1978: 257-85.
Outlines the history of Serbo-Croatian heroic songs and their classification into nine major song cycles. Also addresses the performance and composition of heroic songs as part of a living oral tradition that took into account and interacted with the literary world.
Examines South Slavic women's songs, a large rubric that, in the wake of the nineteenth-century classificatory efforts of Karadzic, shelters "everything not heroic," from ballads, laments, and lullabies to songs to hive bees by. Promotes instead, for the purposes of textual analysis, a distinction between narrative and non-narrative/lyric; employing examples drawn from published fieldwork and compilations, C. notes that, while still making use of traditional formula clusters, women's lyrics are frequently associative, metaphorical, and centered on emotional conditions/responses.
Coplan, David B. 1994. In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South African Basotho Migrants. Chicago: Aldine.
A study of Basotho aural art conducted in Lesotho using an ethnography of performance approach. Coplan's work richly interweaves narrative and scholarly styles.
Creed, Robert P. 1975. "Widsith's Journey through Germanic Tradition." In Anglo-Saxon Poetry: Essays in Appreciation for John C. McGalliard, ed. Lewis E. Nicholson and Dolores Warwick Frese. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. Pp. 376-87.
Creed discards the emendations to the opening lines of Widsith previously suggested by editors J. Kemble, C. W. M. Grein, Kemp Malone, and G. P. Krapp and E. van Kirk Dobbie. But his purpose is more than a textual or prosodic quibble—in the unedited Exeter book lines Creed discovers a riddle being posed: who is Widsith? The unaltered lines, Creed argues, suggest the answer: he is "the singer singing within an oral tradition" (387).
Daniels, Peter D. and William Bright. 1996. Eds., The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press.
Encyclopedic and endlessly browseable overview of the world's written languages in 13 parts and 74 sections, from the writing systems of the Ancient Near East (Part II) to analog and digital writing (section 74). In addition to comprehensive studies of individual scripts and languages, there are sections on such concepts as decipherment (Part III), the use and adaptation of scripts (Part X), and sociolinguistics (Part XI).
Davidson, Olga M. 1994. Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Study of the Shâhnâma of Ferdowsi that focuses on the figure of the poet himself and on the hero of the work, Rostam. D. argues for an antagonism between the hero and his king while claiming that two distinct Iranian poetic traditions, the "epic of heroes" and "book of kings," are united in Rostam. The narratives that center on Rostam are, moreover, "drawn from a fully formed tradition that both preceded Ferdowsi and survived well beyond his lifetime," that is, from a traditional body of Iranian oral poetic traditions.
Davies, Sioned. 1992. "Storytelling in Medieval Wales." Oral Tradition, 7: 231-57.
Excellent and comprehensive introduction to the oral traditional features of medieval Welsh storytelling, with an emphasis on formulaic phrases.
De Vet, Thérčse. 1996. "The Joint Role of Orality and Literacy in the Composition, Transmission, and Performance of the Homeric Texts: A Comparative View." Transactions of the American Philological Association, 126 (1996): 43-76.
Drawing upon both the Oral Theory and the author's own research in Bali, argues that current Homeric scholarship is at an impasse, with scholars divided over the degree of influence of literary composition on the epics. The problem, De V. claims, is that the chief oral comparanda for Homer, the Yugoslav songs collected by Parry and Lord, have enforced a mutually exclusive distinction between oral composition and literary composition. Archaic Greece, on the other hand—for which she feels Balinese society provides a more useful model—was not marked by such rigid categories.
Devlin, Paul. 1998. Slamnation. New York: The Cinema Guild. 91 mins. (<http://www.slamnation.com>)>
Charts the journey of a New York City slam poetry team as it competes in the National Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon.
Digges, Diana and Joanne Rappaport. 1993. "Literacy, Orality, and Ritual Practice in Highland Colombia." In J. Boyarin 1993: 139-55.
Examines the mid-twentieth-century political discourse employed by leaders of the ethnic-rights movement in Cumbal, Colombia. This discourse is informed not only by written legal documents but also by oral histories and ritual practice.
Doane, A. N. 1994. "The Ethnography of Scribal Writing and Anglo-Saxon Poetry: Scribe as Performer." Oral Tradition, 9: 420-39.
Asks, "What is the nature of writing and what is the role of the scribe in a culture in which speech has not lost its primacy?" (420). In order to explore this question Doane compares versions of Soul and Body in the Exeter and Vercelli manuscripts using Dell Hymes' ethnopoetics approach and John Foley's theory that texts retain "performance traces."
DuBois, Thomas A. 1995. Finnish Folk Poetry and the Kalevala. New York: Garland.
Contends that Lönnrot's transformation of the Kalevala from Balto-Finnic oral folk epic into a literary text was informed by European Romantic aesthetics and the intellectual and socio-political tendencies of that movement. Seeks then to understand, largely through ethnopoetic techniques, the native aesthetics of the oral folk tradition that spawned the text of the Kalevala and thereby to achieve a richer, more nuanced understanding of both the literary work and its multivocal oral background.
Traces the development of the field of ethnopoetics, with emphasis laid upon the collaborative nature of ethnopoetic research, the importance of the textual presentation of oral performance, and the inherent worth of oral performance/communication. Oriented throughout towards teachers of literature, the final section offers pedagogical strategies for the use of ethnopoetic research and translations in the classroom.
Duggan, Joseph J. 1969. A Concordance to the Chanson de Roland. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
Duggan's computer-generated concordance is designed for efficient and accurate study of the formulaic half-lines that occur throughout the Chanson de Roland. The concordance is arranged so that a single word and its recurrences occupy the central column of a page; each word is presented within its preceding and subsequent verbal context.
On the premise that the Chanson de Roland has its origins in oral tradition, Duggan takes a quantitative approach to considering its formulas, finding many in the epic's key scenes. He describes in depth the formulaic language in the Episode of Baligant, afterwards widening the scope of his investigation first to the song's overall formulaic repertory and then to the relationship between Roland's formulas and Old French epic style.
Analysis of the formulaic character and density of the Cantar de mio Cid in light of formulas found in Old French epics. Concludes that "the relatively high formula density of the Cid certainly indicates that he did not compose his poem in a way typical of the creative habits of literate poets" (83).
Critical attempt to determine the poetic, social, and economic contexts (including such concepts as the acquisition of wealth, gift-giving, and social hierarchies) of the medieval Spanish juglar. Comes to the broader conclusion that under the pressure of these contexts the Cantar de mio Cid is not a faithful account of eleventh-century history but a poetic fiction in which there remain traces of eleventh-century detail.
Eades, Caroline, and Françoise Létoublon. 1999. "From Film Analysis to Oral-Formulaic Theory: The Case of the Yellow Oilskins." In Contextualizing Classics: Ideology, Performance, Dialogue, ed. Thomas M. Falkner, Nancy Felson, and David Konstan. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. Pp. 301-16.
Connects Greek director Théo Angelopoulos' vision of antiquity in such films as The Hunters, Alexander the Great, The Suspended Step of the Stork, and Ulysses' Gaze with Greek oral poetry, particularly as it has come to be understood in light of Parry and Lord's work on oral-formulaic composition.
Edwards, Mark W. 1986. "Homer and Oral Tradition: The Formula, Part I." Oral Tradition, 1: 171-230.
A comprehensive bibliographical overview of research on the formulae of the Homeric poems. Includes sections on bibliographies and surveys, the structure of the Homeric hexameter, the formula and the hexameter, the history of the Homeric formula, and enjambement.
Continuation of Edwards 1986, with sections on studies of specific formulae, the relationship between formulae and meaning, analyses of formulae, and future directions in the study of Homeric formulae.
Bibliographical/theoretical overview of the type-scene (defined as "a recurrent block of narrative with an identifiable structure") in the Homeric poems, here organized under five headings: Battle, Social Intercourse, Travel, Ritual, and Speeches and Deliberation.
Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 1968. "Some Conjectures about the Impact of Printing on Western Society and Thought." Journal of Modern History, 40: 1-56.
Here Eisenstein presents some of her first hypotheses about the impact of printing on Western culture. She describes an "invisible revolution" wherein the replacement of the medieval scriptorium by the modern print shop is accompanied by a host of heuristic and epistemological changes. She considers the effects of a sudden wide dissemination of texts, standardization, increased codification and cataloguing of data, the fixity of print media, and these media's powers of amplification and reinforcement. Finally, Eisenstein discusses the disparity between social and psychological transformations provoked by the rise of large-scale literacy.
An extensive examination of the pivotal role the printing press played in the Renaissance and Reformation. Eisenstein notes that when she began researching her subject, "I could not find a single book, or even a sizeable article, which attempted to survey the consequences of the fifteenth-century communications shift" (xi). Her two-volume work addresses this lack. Volume one contains two major sections: "Introduction to an Elusive Transformation" and "Classical and Christian Traditions Reoriented; Renaissance and Reformation Reappraised." Volume two comprises a third section, "The Book of Nature Transformed," a conclusion, "Scripture and Nature Transformed," and Bibliographical and General Indices.
Eisenstein's article demonstrates how the changes introduced by print technology spurred on the Italian Renaissance despite the fall of Constantinople, and explains the decisive role of printers in the advent of the Reformation and modern science. For further reading see her two-volume history, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe.
Erdely, Stephen. 1995. Music of Southslavic Epics from the Bihac Region of Bosnia. New York: Garland.
The bulk of E.'s book is a transcription of Mujo Velic's performance of the South Slavic epic Zenidba Ograsovic Ale and three other performances of other singers performing South Slavic epics. His transcriptions have far less detail than the comparable work of Béla Bartók, and E. prefers to discuss broader aspects of performance such as melodic variation, general rhythmic formations, and motivic structure.
Erzgräber, Willi and Sabine Volk. 1998. Eds., Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit im englischen Mittelalter. ScriptOralia, 5. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.
Collection of eleven essays, some in English and some in German, on Old English and medieval English literature. Includes, in English, Hans-Jürgen Diller on Beowulf, Wilhelm G. Busse on written and oral traditions in the late tenth century, Ursula Schaefer on the interface of orality and literacy in Old English poetry, Hildegard L. C. Tristam on "aggregating" narrative versus "integrating" narrative, Derek Brewer on orality and literacy in Chaucer, and Jörg O. Fichte on hearing and reading in the Canterbury Tales.
Evers, Larry and Barre Toelken. 2001. Eds., Native American Oral Traditions: Collaboration and Interpretation. Logan: Utah State University Press. Orig. publ. as a special issue of Oral Tradition, 13, i (1998).
A collection of collaborative essays on various Native American oral traditions, including Dauenhauer and Dauenhauer's "Tracking 'Yuwaan Gagéets': A Russian Fairy Tale in Tlingit Oral Tradition," "Mather and Morrow's "'There Are No More Words to the Story'," Molina and Evers' "'Like this it stays in your hands': Collaboration and Ethnopoetics," Moses and Langen's "Reading Martha Lamont's Crow Story Today," Wasson and Toelken's "Coyote and the Strawberries: Cultural Drama and Intercultural Collaboration," and Wilson and Park's "Wu-ches-erik (Loon Woman) and Ori-aswe (Wildcat)," Zepeda and Hill's "Collaborative Sociolinguistic Research among the Tohono O'odham," and an introduction by the editors.
Fine, Elizabeth C. 1994. The Folklore Text: From Performance to Print. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Orig. ed. 1984.
Fine analyzes the problem of translating the performance of verbal art, with all its linguistic, acoustic, visual, kinesic, and social valences, into a performance-centered text. She discusses the continuum of formal and dynamic equivalences and of analytical and perceptual equivalences, siding with the formal and perceptual ends of these continuums.
Finnegan, Ruth. 1970. Oral Literature in Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Though now somewhat superseded by the considerable amount of scholarship it helped to spawn, this remains an important, groundbreaking study of the many varieties of oral literature in Africa. An introductory section treats the context and background (e.g., performance, transmission, audience, language), while the next two sections provide overviews of poetry (including panegyric, elegiac, war poetry, work songs, lyric, political songs, and children's rhymes) and prose (including narratives, proverbs, riddles, and oratory). A final section examines drum language and drama. An impressive work of scholarship that blends anthropology and comparative literature and remains firmly grounded in the observable world of performance (there is very little room for theory here), F.'s book is suited to both student and scholar. It is also a fine response to those who would make ill-informed assumptions about the nature of oral artistic expression in a "non-literate" society.
Collection of diverse essays published between 1969 and 1984 on various aspects of literacy and orality. A new introduction contextualizes the essays in light of later research on 'information technologies.' The essays themselves focus on such topics as language and no-literacy among the Limba of Sierra Leone, the significance of literature in non-literate societies, oral composition and literature in the South Pacific, the relationship between composition and performance, and the transmission of oral and literate traditions.
Describing the study as a "short guide to the study of oral poetry and its controversies," F. in eight chapters sets out to address the fundamental questions and issues surrounding oral poetry, such as the roles of memorization and composition-in-performance, the relevance of style and the existence of an oral register, the transmission of oral poetry, and the importance of individual singers and their audiences, with examples drawn from ancient and living traditions around the world. F. insists throughout on a complex relationship between oral and written poetry (there is, as she puts it, "no sharp and absolute break between oral and written forms of poetry") and on the special importance of performance.
Collection of eleven essays on various aspects of South Pacific oral tradition, most of which have a decidedly empirical/anthropological bent. A helpful introductory essay by Finnegan ("Introduction; or, Why the Comparativist Should Take Account of the South Pacific") orients the reader to the many cultures and forms of verbal art of the South Pacific. The other essays focus on such diverse topics as Maori women's love songs, Tonga protest songs, sprit traditions in the Cook Islands, and Mangaian drama, to name only a few.
Foley, John Miles. 1985. Oral-Formulaic Theory and Research: An Introduction and Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland. Rpt. 1988, 1992. Updated electronic version at <http://www.oraltradition.org>.
The search engine for the online version of this annotated bibliography supplies 100 different areas to choose from, including Armenian, Barbar, Blues, Chinese, Contemporary Poetry and Fiction, and so on. All sources are cross-referenced, and annotations, whether two sentences long or ten, treat a broad variety of sources. An indispensable tool for the student of oral traditions.
A collection of essays addressing the criticism and study of oral and oral-derived literature that arose out of the 1984 Missouri Oral Literature Symposium at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Each essay shares the common goal of placing the study of an oral literature within its context in order to apprehend more surely the cultural and aesthetic meanings that would be lost on anyone using a purely literary approach. These essays take up such works and fields as the Gospel of Mark, Beowulf, the Cantar de mio Cid, Serbo-Croatian epic tradition, ancient Greek lyric and epic, Old English poems attributed to Cynewulf, the Nibelungenlied, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
A concise history of the Oral-Formulaic Theory and its influence(s) upon literature and scholarship. Begins with an overview of the precursors to the theory proper, focusing principally on the old Homeric Question, before moving on to the seminal achievements of Milman Parry and Albert Lord. The final two chapters consider the scholarship inspired by Parry and Lord's work, describing developments and future directions in the fields of Greek and Old English in particular, but including as well accounts of the Theory's influence in Hispanic, Old French, African, Irish, and Biblical studies.
Detailed comparative study of the prosody, phraseology, typical scenes, and structure (each of these tradition-dependent) of the three oral or oral-derived epic traditions represented in the title. The technical foundation of Foley 1991.
Builds upon the analysis of Foley 1990, seeking to answer the question begged by the structural findings of the earlier volume: how are we to interpret works of verbal art that stem directly or indirectly from oral tradition? How are readers, who are accustomed to engaging with deliberately fashioned written texts, to generate traditional meaning from the traditional phraseology and structure of oral and oral-derived texts? The answer lies in F.'s concept of "traditional referentiality," a metonymic idiom and process that "entails the invoking of a context that is enormously larger and more echoic than the text or work itself, that brings the lifeblood of generations of poems and performances to the individual performance or text" (7). This concept is put into practice with examinations of Serbo-Croatian epics (both Muslim and Christian), Iliad 24, and Beowulf.
Focuses on how the power of traditional oral narrative emerges in the relationship between performance and tradition. The author's summary preceding the article is as follows: "Oral-Formulaic Theory and Performance-centered approaches (Ethnography of speaking, Ethnopoetics) share a fundamental concern with the 'untextuality' of traditional oral narrative. The present article seeks to explore that common territory by illustrating how performance serves as the enabling event, and tradition as the enabling referent, for the enactment and reception of verbal art. Examples are drawn chiefly from Serbo-Croatian Moslem epic and Serbian charms [bajanje], with some references to ancient Greek and Old English traditions" (275).
In this analysis of the fundamental importance of performance (in which "word-power," or the resonance obtained when words engage contexts and mediate communication in oral traditional verbal art, is unleashed) and the performance arena (where this takes place) in any consideration of oral tradition (and oral-derived texts), F. demonstrates that "word-power derives from the enabling event of performance and the enabling referent of tradition" (xiii, n. 6, etc.). Illustrates these concepts with analyses of Serbian magic charms, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and the Old English poem Andreas.
Foley begins this essay on scholarly editing in the field of folklore by addressing the "three major hurdles" folklorists encounter: "establishing the definition of folk literature, determining the range or coverage to be attempted, and, perhaps most imposing, assimilating performances of folklore and related works to our highly literary notions of text" (600). In addition, Foley briefly surveys folklore's history of text-making. He summarizes three recent movements in folklore, all concerned with the issue of creating texts faithful to an oral performance: oral-formulaic theory; ethnopoetics and the ethnography of speaking; and the performance approach. Barre Toelken's collection and analysis of Native American trickster tales over a period of thirty years serves as a "miniature" case study in one folklorist's approach to textualization and the influence of ethnopoetics. The essay closes with a section on exemplary editions and suggestions for further readings.
Demonstration and discussion of the implications of the modern rediscovery of ancient Greek oral tradition for the Homeric poems. Includes a short history of the pioneering work of Milman Parry and Albert Lord, an outline of the salient aspects of the so-called Oral Theory, critical reactions to the theory, and the implications of oral tradition for our understanding and appreciation of Homer's epics.
The contributions of forty-two scholar-teachers are divided into four parts: Part I ("Canon or Cornucopia?") plots the nature and breadth of the vast field of oral traditions, Part II ("Critical Approaches") offers introductions to a variety of prominent theoretical approaches, Part III ("Praxis: Oral Traditions in the Classroom") presents capsule introductions to and analyses of twenty-five commonly taught texts and traditions, and Part IV ("Courses, Readings, and Resources") gathers together reports, strategies, and data relevant to the teaching of oral traditions in the classroom. The primary audience throughout is teachers and their students.
Emphasizing the dimensions of plurality, performance, and traditional referentiality that characterize oral traditions the world over, F. argues that the idea of a canon (of fixed texts) is antithetical to oral tradition. The analogue of the internet, with its many links and pathways, is a more appropriate—because more truly representative of human diversity—model for a new canon that includes both fixed texts and oral traditions.
Application of F.'s theory of traditional referentiality (as here encoded in the ancient Greek word sęma, "sign") to the Homeric poems that seeks primarily to address the implications of oral tradition for the present readership: how, in other words, do we read Homer now that we know it connects with an oral tradition? Includes extended analogies with South Slavic oral songs and singers and a briefer comparison to the Anglo-Saxon Widsith.
Response to four articles on Macpherson's Ossian poetry gathered in a recent issue of the Journal of American Folklore (JAF 114 ; see Porter 2001, J. F. Nagy 2001, McKean 2001, and Bold 2001). Observes that the range of contemporary responses to Macpherson's Ossianic project demonstrates the richness of comparative approaches and the need for a plurality of interpretive methods in approaching verbal (especially oral traditional) art. Offers parallels for each approach by citing similar concerns in other oral traditions.
An analysis of the aesthetic virtuosity exhibited in the oral traditional performance of the South Slavic Christian epic Udovica Jana (The Widow Jana) by the guslar (bard) Aleksandar Jakovljevic. Includes an original-language transcription and an English translation as well as an example of the musical theme and variations played by the guslar on his single-stringed gusle. The acoustic record of this performance, as well as the entire 1976 article, is available under the Eighth Word link in the E-companion.
See Kerewsky-Halpern and Foley 1978 for a fuller version of this article. Kerewsky-Halpern and Foley 1978 expands the discussion of motifs and frames and includes a thorough linguistic analysis that contrasts eight versions of the charm.
Gaskill, Howard. 1996. Ed., The Poems of Ossian and Related Works (The Ossianic Works of James Macpherson). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Gaskill's edition of Macpherson's Ossianic "translations" is the most comprehensive to date, including all of the poetry of Fragments, Fingal, and Temora, as well as extensive notes and Hugh Blair's highly influential Critical Dissertation. Fiona Stafford's Introduction provides a detailed overview of Macpherson's life and the reception of his works.
Goody, Jack. 1987. The Interface between the Written and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Considers three kinds of "interface" between orality and literacy: the "meeting of cultures with and without writing, historically and geographically," their interface "in societies that employ writing to varying degrees in various contexts," and the interface "between the use of writing and speech in the life of any individual." Part I charts the historical development of writing, Part II issues of orality and literacy in Africa, ancient Greece, and the Vedas, Part III written and oral cultures in West Africa, and Part IV numerous theories about the impact of literacy on individuals in communities.
A geographically and culturally wide-ranging study that continues G.'s analysis of "the transforming effects of literate activity on human life." Here G. concentrates on the dynamics of sociocultural dominance that attend the written word and the book, discussing broadly the hegemony that a literate culture may exert over an oral one and the power that writing may confer on a particular group in a given culture. With case studies and examples drawn from both east and west, he highlights throughout the differences that literacy and the written word, as a "technology of the intellect," make in literate and oral cultures' understandings of such key human concepts as time, memory, and ritual.
Gordy, Eric D. 1999. The Culture of Power in Serbia: Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Argues that the Serbian regime headed by Milosevic survived by carefully eliminating any alternatives—of political, informational, musical, economical, and even electrical—to its rule.
Gossen, Gary H. 1974. Chamulas in the World of the Sun: Time and Space in a Maya Oral Tradition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Gossen's book is the culmination of fifteen months of field research among the Tzotzil-speaking Maya Indians of Chamula, Mexico. He describes the various genres of Chamula oral traditions as they function within their social contexts and in relation to Chamula cosmology. Chapters are primarily organized around these genres, such as "true recent narrative," "prayer," and "frivolous language."
Graff, Harvey J. 1987. The Legacies of Literacy: Continuities and Contradictions in Western Culture and Society. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Admirable attempt at a synthetic and systematic history of literacy, arguing that literacy "can be understood only in terms of its historical development" (vii). Tracks the concept and practice of literacy from antiquity through the Middle Ages and the development of the printing press to the present and beyond.
Greenberg, Robert D. 2000. "Language Politics in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: The Crisis over the Future of Serbian," Slavic Review, 59: 625-40.
Examines the death of the unified Serbo-Croatian language after the break up of Yugoslavia in 1991 and the bitter political and ideological struggles among various linguistic factions (the 'Status quo' linguists, the reform-minded 'Neo-Vukovites,' and the extreme 'Orthodox' nationalists) to establish the new Serbian standard language.
Greetham, David C. 1995. Ed., Scholarly Editing: A Guide to Research. New York: Modern Language Association.
Greetham defines scholarly editing as "whatever produces those weighty tomes of authoritative texts accompanied by thick annotation, dense critical apparatus, lists of variants and historical collation, glossaries, and commentaries: in other words, those volumes in which the text is thought to need the intervention of scholarship for its better understanding" (1). This collection of 24 essays addresses this process in the majority of fields of verbal art studied in North American language and literature departments—including ten essays in the field of English and others on the Bible, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and folk literatures.
Habermalz, Sabine. 1998. "'Signs on a white field': A Look at Orality in Literacy and James Joyce's Ulysses." Oral Tradition, 13: 285-305.
Attempts to "illustrate the concepts of Sprache der Nähe ('language of immediacy') and Sprache der Distanz ('language of distance')"—more crudely put, the language of oral speech and the (written) language of literature—by examining several passages from Joyce's Ulysses, a work that in places seems to blur any distinction between the two.
Halpern, Joel M., Barbara Kerewsky-Halpern, and John Miles Foley. 1983. "Oral Genealogies and Official Records: A Comparative Approach Using Serbian Data." Southeastern Europe, 10:150-74.
Discussion, from three academic perspectives, of the importance of understanding the ways in which fieldwork informants may rely on oral traditional structures when transmitting their information, especially their genealogical information.
Haring, Lee. 1994. Ed., African Oral Traditions. A special issue of Oral Tradition, 9, i.
Collection of nine articles and an introduction by H.; especially notable is the fact that many of the articles employ the tools of performance-based research and criticism, which heretofore had been used on African materials only sporadically. Similarly noteworthy is the attention given throughout to contexts of African social and political change, particularly in the several articles that deal with women's songs. Includes contributions by Sory Camara, Veronika Görög-Karady, Daniel K. Avorgbedor, Sa'idu Babura Ahmed and Graham Furniss, Chukwuma Azuonye, Rüdiger Schott, Zainab Mohamed Jama, K. E. Agovi, and Rachel I. Fretz.
Harris, William V. 1989. Ancient Literacy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
An ambitious but scrupulous attempt to answer the seemingly straightforward question, "How many people could read, how many people could write in the Graeco-Roman world?" H. reviews the massive but often slippery evidence, from the first provable use of a non-syllabic script in eighth-century BC Greece down through the fifth century AD, and analyzes the spread and function of literacy at every turn. Argues in the end that the mass literacy known to most modern Western nations never existed in antiquity, putting, for example, the literacy rate of Attica at the beginning of the fifth century BC at no more than 10%. Throughout H. stresses the key functions that memory and orality served at all times in the ancient world.
Haslam, Michael. 1997. "Homeric Papyri and Transmission of the Text." In Morris and Powell 1997: 55-100.
A thorough overview of the earliest manuscripts of the Homeric poems and the transmissional process that, over thousands of years, resulted in the printed texts in use today. H. observes that these early manuscripts show a striking degree of variation, and sorts out some of the relationships among them and among current printed texts; he also provides a useful account, with analysis, of scholiastic practices, the establishment of a so-called 'vulgate' text, and the bewildering multiplicity of medieval manuscripts.
Hatto, Arthur T. 1990. Ed. and trans., The Manas of Wilhelm Radloff. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
A re-editing, with new translations and a full commentary, of Kirghiz epic songs devoted to the hero Manhas, collected in the 1860s by the eminent Turkologist Wilhelm Radloff.
Havelock, Eric A. 1963. Preface to Plato. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Rpt. 1982.
Groundbreaking analysis of Plato's relationship to poetry, particularly oral epic, and the implications of that relationship both for Plato's own ideas and, more broadly, for Greek intellectual history and culture.
In this late attempt to summarize his prodigious output, H. outlines his theory of how ancient Greek orality in the centuries between Homer and Aristotle metamorphosed into ancient Greek literacy, what that metamorphosis meant for the many generations of its contemporaries, and what it means for us today. Greek literature (especially Homer) and philosophy (especially Plato) are the touchstones of H.'s argument, but he has much to say too about modern technologies of communication and about the theories of Lévi-Strauss, Parry, McLuhan, Derrida, Ong, and others.
Heaney, Seamus. 2000. Trans., Beowulf. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
This verse translation by the winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature attempts to echo the power of the original Old English rather than present a literal translation. Heaney draws upon his personal experience of Ulster Irish speech to create a modern-day analogue; for example, in reference to lines 24 and 25 of his translation, he writes, "I am attending as much to the grain of my original vernacular as to the content of the Anglo-Saxon lines" (xxviii).
Heath, Shirley Brice. 1982. "What No Bedtime Story Means: Narrative Skills at Home and School." Language in Society, 11: 49-76.
A comparative study of patterns of language and language socialization among children from three literate Southeastern U.S. communities: one mainstream and middle-class; "a white mill community of Appalachian origin"; and "a black mill community of recent rural origin" (49). The bedtime story serves as a focal "literacy event" for the study. Heath notes "the inadequacy of the prevalent dichotomy between oral and literate traditions, and . . . the inadequacy of unilinear models of child language development and dichotomies between cognitive styles" (ibid).
Argues against an ingrained scholarly tendency to classify a cultural community at a certain point along a hypothetical continuum of orality (at one end) and literacy (at the other) that in fact has no basis in social reality. Demonstrates succinctly and persuasively, with effective examples from church and the workplace, that oral and written language are "protean," as often interacting as opposing each other. A useful complication of the strangely persistent orality-literacy dichotomy.
Heissig, Walther. 1996. "The Present State of the Mongolian Epic and Some Topics for Future Research." Oral Tradition, 11: 85-98.
A brief survey of the scholarly collection and analysis of more than 350 Mongolian epics. Hessig lists six generic variations: the courting epic, epic of recovery of lost possessions, mythicized epic, power-delegating epic, composite ritualized epic, and book-based epic. He indicates the need for further research on traditional formulaic phraseology, narrative motifs, the biographies of bards and their teachers, and the exchange of heroic plots and motifs with other geographically linked cultures.
Hirsch, Edward. 1999. How to Read a Poem, and Fall in Love with Poetry. New York: Harcourt.
Himself a renowned poet, H. offers a personal and highly readable "road map" to the pleasures of reading poetry. The first chapter ("Message in a Bottle") charts some aspects of the relationship between the reader and the poet and defines important poetic ideas and terms. The remaining eleven chapters are an omnivorous feast, as H. scrutinizes individual poems from antiquity (Homer and Horace) to the present day (Szymborska, Hecht, Akhmatova, and many others), keeping his focus on the complex and, to H., even mystical encounter between poet/poem and reader. Concludes with a full glossary of poetic terms and a reading list of poetry from around the world.
Hladczuk, John, William Eller, and Sharon Hladczuk. 1989. Comps., Literacy/Illiteracy in the World: A Bibliography. New York: Greenwood Press.
Bibliography of research on literacy and illiteracy around the world. In three sections: (1) International Research, with nine discrete sections on world regions and 127 sections on individual countires; (2) Illiteracy and UNESCO; and (3) Literacy in the Third World.
Hobart, Michael E. and Zachary S. Schiffman. 1998. Information Ages: Literacy, Numeracy, and the Computer Revolution. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
A history of the idea of information that surveys three separate information ages: classical, modern, and contemporary. Part I ("The Classical Age of Literacy") surveys the oral provenance of Homer, the idea of literacy in the ancient world, and the effects of the rise of the Greek alphabet. Part II ("The Modern Age of Numeracy") considers the advent of the printing press, early numeracy, and the organization and spread of information in the early modern world. Part III ("The Contemporary Age of Compuers") explores the concept of information in the contemporary world, with an emphasis on computer language and information technologies.
Horsley, Richard A., with Jonathan A. Draper. 1999. Whoever Hears You Hears Me: Prophets, Performance, and Tradition in Q. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.
Detailed study that argues that Q derives from an oral context and that Q and the Jesus who emerges from it must be reconsidered in the context of Jewish prophetic culture.
Howe, Nicholas. 1993. "The Cultural Construction of Reading in Anglo-Saxon England." In J. Boyarin 1993: 58-79.
Presents reading as a performative and communal act in Anglo-Saxon society. By exploring the etymology, significance, and usage of the Old English word rćdan and its cognates, Howe argues that reading in this early medieval society was like solving a riddle, an act of decoding by a group of listeners.
Hudson, Nicholas. 1994. Writing and European Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Analysis of the importance of writing to Western ideas about language, technology, and concepts of civilization in the Early Modern era. Claims that such central European writers as Rousseau and the Romantics became paradoxically more aware of the power and importance of orality and the deficiencies of an increasingly technologized, literate society.
Hymes, Dell. 1977. "Discovering Oral Performance and Measured Verse in American Indian Narrative." New Literary History, 7: 431-57. Rev. in Hymes 1981: 79-141.
Text and translation of a brief Chinookan Native American (Oregon and Washington) prose narrative, followed by structural analyses. H. demonstrates that the narrative is in fact organized into a "measured" oral-performative structure of lines, verses, stanzas, scenes, and even something resembling 'acts.' While the narrative does not exhibit familiar phonological or grammatical patterning, H. points out that repetition serves to characterize its parts. Ends by appealing for more attention to be given to Native American oral narratives.
This seminal work in ethnopoetics approaches the Native American tales of the Chinookans, Takelma, Haida, and Kwakiutl as works of art deserving close analysis. Hymes states in his Introduction, "If we do not deal with the means, we cannot possess the meanings" (5). Here the means includes linguistic analysis and a grasp of the formal structure of Native American verse. Hymes' book emphasizes his discovery of traditional narrative verse patterning in the tales he analyzes and the reclamation of narrative devices that were mistaken as meaningless by previous researchers.
Argues that the very diversity of "ways of speaking" (informal conversation, mannered debate, finely structured poems, and so on) precludes seeing grammar as the only way to look at language. Only by analyzing the ways that different cultures select and organize the multiplicity of opportunities for verbal expression can we begin to approach a theory of verbal creativity, much less a valid universal theory of language.
Asserts that the editing of oral narratives for publication should take into account the dynamics of performance by structuring the narratives at least into groups of lines; this structure will reflect more accurately the natural rhythm and overall verbal artistry of the performance, will indeed recover the "lineaments of shaping artistry" (354). The second half of the article is a call for Native American anthropologists and folklorists in particular to "repatriate" old manuscripts through greater focus on what has been "excluded, rearranged, normalized, [and] misunderstood" (355) in textual representations of oral performance.
Irwin, Bonnie D. 1995. "What's in a Frame? The Medieval Textualization of Traditional Storytelling." Oral Tradition, 10: 27-53.
Observes that the medieval genre of the frame tale is representative of the "constantly fluctuating relationship between traditional and literary narrative in the Middle Ages" (51). After initial sections that define the genre and its principal characteristics, she goes on to analyze, among other subjects, the oral traditional qualities of the interpolated tales, the paradox of time frames, and the portrayal of performance within the work.
Noting that the genre of the frame tale "occupies a unique place in the relation between orality and literacy" (391), I. defines the frame tale and sketches its development, emphasizing the genre's long pedigree and the effect it exerts on an audience's reception and interpretation of the interpolated tales. Includes pedagogical strategies.
Jaffee, Martin S. 1998. "The Hebrew Scriptures." In Foley 1998a: 321-29.
A brief consideration of the Hebrew Scriptures as texts with roots in oral traditions; discusses the relationship of the scriptural book to the oral tradition that lies behind it and the pedagogical implications of such a relationship.
J. discusses the generic traits of Rabbinic literature, the idea of the Oral Torah, and the oral foundations of Rabbinic compilations. He suggests that we understand Rabbinic compilation not as we would a contemporary anthology but instead as a text that "points attention away from itself to a world of speech in which there are no documents, but much discourse" (26).
In-depth critical study of oral tradition and its complex relationship to Second Temple scribal culture (part I) and to early rabbinism (part II). Part I examines the seeming unawareness of oral tradition in a time and place when oral tradition was clearly a driving force in written documents and religious life in general. Part II carefully combs the surviving rabbinic literature of the period and by means of several theoretical perspectives analyzes the development of the rabbinical concept of the oral Torah, or "Torah in the Mouth."
Janko, Richard. 1990. "The Iliad and its Editors: Dictation and Redaction." Classical Antiquity, 9: 326-34.
Tackles the thorny problem of how our text of the Iliad came into being. Agrees with Albert Lord that the text of the poem is the result of dictation; claims furthermore that both poems are indeed by the same poet, though they were fixed at different dates, and that any technical obstacles to the writing down of such long poems in antiquity have been exaggerated. The real unknown, J. admits, is and, unless new external evidence arises, always will be the question of who caused the poems to be written down and for what purpose(s).
Johns, Adrian. 1998. The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
A learned and exhaustive cultural history of the emergence of what the author calls "print culture" in early modern England. Maintains that the identity of print, and the culture to which it gave birth, had to be made; that is, that the very things we take for granted about books—the identity of the author(s), the nature of the information between the covers, the legal rights surrounding publication, and so on—are more contingent than we realize, and are in fact the result of centuries of labor and effort in the printing world to establish the inviolability of such concepts as reliability and veracity (and, of course, to secure commercial success in the process).
Johnson, John William. 1992. Trans., The Epic of Son-Jara: A West African Tradition. Text by Fa-Digi Sisňkň. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Orig. ed. 1986.
The griot Fa-Digi Sisňkň's four-hour performance of this widely recited Mandekan epic has been translated word-for-word, rather than reconstructed or rewritten, by folklorist John William Johnson. The translation includes the audience's responses on the right side of the page, as well as an introduction, annotations, and genealogy charts.
This anthology of excerpts from twenty-five oral epics from West Africa, North Africa, and Central Africa is aimed at the vast audience of teachers, students, and scholars who remain unfamiliar with the diverse epic traditions of Africa. A helpful introduction places African oral epic in the larger context of African literature and provides information on regional variations, sources, and terminology.
Kaschula, Russell H. 1995. "Mandela Comes Home: The Poets' Perspective." Oral Tradition, 10: 91-110.
Analyzes the oral poem sung by an imbongi (a Xhosa oral poet) in April 1990 to commemorate the return of Nelson Mandela to the city of Umtata, his birthplace.
Kay, Matthew. 1995. The Index of the Milman Parry Collection 1933-1935: Heroic Songs, Conversations, and Stories. New York: Garland.
As the title indicates, this is a comprehensive index to the heroic songs, conversation, and stories collected by Milman Parry and Albert Lord in the former Yugoslavia between 1933-1935 (and currently housed in Widener Library at Harvard University). Part 1 consists of a singer index, a location index, and a heroic song index. Part 2 is the master index to the texts. There are four helpful appendices and several illustrations.
Keeling, Richard. 1992. Cry for Luck: Sacred Song and Speech among the Yurok, Hupa, and Karok Indians of Northwestern California. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
An ethnomusicological study of Native American music from California. This is the first volume of its kind to address the extensive literature and collections made earlier in the twentieth century—to which Keeling adds his own field research and recordings—from the perspective of oral-formulaic theory.
Kelber, Werner H. 1997. The Oral and the Written Gospel: The Hermeneutics of Speaking and Writing in the Synoptic Tradition, Mark, Paul, and Q. Voices in Performance and Text. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Orig. ed. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.
In his Foreword Walter Ong writes, "The present book . . . reshapes the concept of oral tradition in the biblical world so radically that it may well appear a new concept from now on" (xiii). Kelber employs an "oral hermeneutic" in his examination of Mark, Paul, and Q, placing, as Ong writes, "a brilliant new light on the place of written gospel in the totality of tradition" (idem).
Kent George P. 1983. "The Poetic Order of Healing in a Czech Incantation against Erysipelas." Southeastern Europe, 10: 121-49.
A thorough linguistic examination of the phonological, morphological, and semantic structures of a Czech incantation. Kent describes how the incantation's specialized verbal designs—occurring at acoustic, grammatical, and metaphorical levels—may act to rid its recipient of an illness.
Kerewsky-Halpern, Barbara. 1980. "Genealogy as Oral Genre in a Serbian Village." In Oral Traditional Literature: A Festschrift for Albert Bates Lord, ed. John Miles Foley. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica. Pp. 301-21.
Demonstrates the existence of a theretofore undocumented South Slavic oral genre, the recitation of genealogy. Analyzes the historical, social, and linguistic conditions that inform the genre, and includes examples and analysis.
Sociolinguistic analysis, with transcription, of the tuzbalica, or Serbo-Croatian oral lament.
An analysis of the linguistic and symbolic features of two versions of a Serbian charm, both incanted by the same practitioner [bajalica] of charm medicine. In addition, the authors sketch the cultural setting and describe the transmission of Serbian charms [bajanje].
Kernan, Alvin. 1987. Printing Technology, Letters, and Samuel Johnson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.
Insightful discussion of the myriad ways in which advancements in printing technology affected not only the mental lives and habits of eighteenth-century British and European writers—in particular, as the title reflects, the life and work of Samuel Johnson—but also the wider literary culture of the time.
Kintgen, Eugene R., Barry M. Kroll, and Mike Rose. 1988. Eds., Perspectives on Literacy. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press.
Collection of twenty-eight essays in four sections ("Theoretical Perspectives," "Historical Perspectives," "Educational Perspectives," and "Community Perspectives") that explores the problematic concept(s) of literacy.
Klaeber, Frederick. 1950. Ed., Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. 3rd ed. with 1st and 2nd supplements. Boston: D. C. Heath.
Klaeber's meticulously footnoted and annotated edition is regarded by many as the most erudite and complete guide to the Old English Beowulf, though lacking in the insight that was later provided by applying oral-formulaic theory and knowledge of oral traditions in general to the epic (see espec. Magoun 1953; Foley 1990). Klaeber draws heavily upon comparative Germanic literature and philology in his introduction to the following topics: argument of the poem; the fabulous or supernatural elements; the historical elements; the Christian coloring; structure of the poem; tone, style, and meter; language; manuscript; and genesis of the poem. Both Beowulf and the Finnsburg fragment have thorough bibliographies (to 1932) and notes. Klaeber also includes multiple appendices and a glossary.
Klein, Anne Carolyn. 1994. "Oral Genres and the Art of Reading in Tibet." Oral Tradition, 9: 281-314.
Klein's insights into Tibetan Buddhist oral genres draw upon both written and oral resources: Tibetan and Sanskrit texts and oral explanations from Tibetan lamas and scholars. She notes the strong interrelationship that exists between orality and literacy in the practice of reading and other activities. She splits oral genres into two major, not necessarily independent, categories: explanatory forms, which include oral philosophy, and ritual oral genres, such as mantra.
Koljevic, Svetozar. 1980. The Epic in the Making. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Study of the origins and development of the South Slavic Christian oral epics in their linguistic, social and historical contexts. Emphasis on the oral narrative poetry collected and published by Vuk Karadzic.
Kolsti, John S. 1990. The Bilingual Singer: A Study in Albanian and Serbo-Croatian Oral Epic Poetry. New York: Garland.
Comparative study that analyzes the ways in which formulaic and thematic elements travel between the Serbo-Croatian and Albanian languages in the performance of South Slavic epic song.
Krupat, Arnold. 1989. The Voice in the Margin: Native American Literature and the Canon. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Addresses the virtual erasure of Native American presence by Euro-Americans and the reflection of this social, cultural, and historical treatment or "avoidance" of Native American culture in the canon. Krupat proposes principles for a canon of American literature that would include rather than exclude Native American works and develops a theoretical basis for evaluating these works, drawing upon examples from Native American autobiography.
A diverse collection of 22 essays written by a strong mix of male, female, Native, and non-Native scholars; largely contributed by scholars at early stages in their careers. Part one focuses on "Performances and Texts," Part two on "Authors and Issues," and Part three on "Ethnocritques."
Labov, William. 1972. Language in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Labov's study was spurred by an investigation into the low literacy rates of African-American New York City youths in the mid-1960s. With the assistance of Clarence Robins and John Lewis, two African-American researchers fluent in the street vernacular, and Paul Cohen, another Euro-American linguist, Labov conducted interviews with adolescents in south-central Harlem and other areas of New York. The first four chapters of his book focus on the grammar and sound system of Black Vernacular English with an eye towards the literacy issue. The next three chapters document the use of black vernacular in its social setting and attack the idea that BEV inhibits logical thinking processes; the author argues instead that political and cultural conflicts are the greatest reasons for lack of literacy success. The final chapters develop rules of discourse for two major genres in African-American vernacular culture, ritual insult and the personal narrative.
Lattimore, Richmond. 1951. The Iliad of Homer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
A popular translation of the Iliad into English verse that strives to remain faithful to the syntax and diction of the original ancient Greek.
Leslau, Charlotte and Wolf Leslau. 1962. Eds., African Proverbs. With decorations by Jeff Hill. White Plains, New York: Peter Pauper Press. Rpt. 1985.
Collection of African proverbs ("Great events may stem from words of no importance"; "You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla"; "Sorrow is like a precious treasure, shown only to friends"), arranged by country.
Lord, Albert B. 1960. The Singer of Tales. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 2nd ed. by Stephen Mitchell and Gregory Nagy, 2000, with audio and video CD.
A trailblazing, seminal work that remains fundamental and vital to this day, informing scholarship in dozens of fields and sub-fields in classics, English, comparative literature, Slavic studies, folklore, and anthropology. Following up his field research in the Former Yugoslavia with Milman Parry (see Parry 1971 below), Lord analyzes in Part I ("The Theory") the oral-traditional components of South Slavic song, offering influential definitions and explanations of, among other things, the formula, the theme, and 'thrift,' and investigates the nature of the relationship between the written word and the oral-traditional song. Part II ("The Application") applies the theories of the first part to our texts of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and to several medieval epics (Beowulf, La Chanson de Roland, and Digenis Akritas). Includes ample appendices and copious examples throughout the text; the second edition (2000) includes a helpful introduction by Stephen Mitchell and Gregory Nagy that places Lord's research and his ideas in their context and, significantly, a CD that includes images and some video footage from Parry and Lord's fieldwork as well as 28 audio tracks keyed to the examples in the text.
Collection of thirteen essays from the fifties, sixties, and eighties, a few of which are published here for the first time. The essays in toto illustrate the breadth and depth of L.'s scholarship as well as the expansion of the ideas he set forth in The Singer of Tales, ranging as they do from Homer, Old English, and South Slavic epic to the Kalevala and the oral traditional epics of Bulgaria and Central Asia.
Posthumous collection of L.'s most recent work in various oral traditions, including oral traditional lyric poetry, Homer, Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon poetry, the ballad, and The Wedding of Smailagic Meho.
Collection of seventy-five zenske pjesme ("women's songs") gathered by Milman Parry and Albert Lord. Lord contributes an introduction that sets the songs in context as well as the texts and translations of the songs, while Bartok offers transcriptions and discussions of the music that accompanies them.
MacCoull, Leslie. 1999. "Oral-Formulaic Approaches to Coptic Hymnography." Oral Tradition, 14: 354-400.
Examines the exegetical, narrative, and oral-formulaic elements of the Coptic hymn tradition. Specifically discusses opening formulas, stock epithets, theological content, and composition and language comprehension. Includes an Appendix with multiple versions of Coptic hymns.
Magoun, Francis P., Jr. 1953. "The Oral-Formulaic Character of Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry." Speculum, 28: 446-67.
Magoun is the first to apply Albert Lord and Milman Parry's oral-formulaic theory to narrative poetry in Old English, challenging all previous studies of Beowulf that drew upon a literary paradigm and assumed such things as an author working from scratch. Lines from Beowulf and Christ and Satan are compared. Magoun approaches Old English verse with the categories Parry developed from his study of Greek formulas.
Malone, Kemp. 1962. Ed., Widsith. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger.
An extraordinary edition of this approx. 143-line Old English poem. The author begins with his transcript of Widsith from the Exeter Book facsimile and guides the reader through the process of textual and prosodic comparison and emendation that results in a normalized version of the poem. Includes line-by-line commentary, an analysis of various prosodic elements, historical discussion, glossary, and bibliography.
Manguel, Alberto. 1996. A History of Reading. New York: Penguin.
Not a linear, chronological history of reading practices but an engrossing series of learned and imaginative meditations on various aspects of the idiosyncratic experience(s) of reading. The book is divided into two principal parts, "Acts of Reading" and "Powers of the Reader"; the former explores such topics as "Learning to Read," "Being Read To," "Private Reading," and "Metaphors of Reading," while the latter takes up, among other subjects, "The Symbolic Reader," "The Author as Reader," "The Translator as Reader," and "Forbidden Reading."
Martin, Henri-Jean. 1994. The History and Power of Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Orig. publ. as L'histoire et pouvoirs d'écrit (Librairie Académique Perrin, 1988).
Charts in authoritative detail the progress of the written word and its progeny the book in the Western world, beginning with the earliest writing systems and the place of literacy alongside orality in antiquity, and moving on to the dawn of mass printing in the Renaissance and the book cultures to which the printing press gave birth.
Martin, Richard P. 1989. The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Incorporates the tools and techniques of ethnography, performance studies, and sociolinguistics to examine the speeches of the heroes in the Iliad. The concept of the speech-act (Greek muthos), an authoritative and public utterance, underlies chapters on genres of speaking and on the verbal performances of certain heroes, notably Achilles, whose uniquely complex and vigorous language prompts M. to identify his verbal authority with that of the narrator-poet himself.
Considers the factors that make the Homeric poems oral (internal, archaeological, and metrical evidence, as well as the diction of the poems and comparative poetry in other languages), the nature of the Homeric audience, and several examples of how to read an "oral Homer."
Mason, Bruce Lionel. 1998. "E-Texts: The Orality and Literacy Issue Revisited." Oral Tradition, 13: 306-29.
Considers the relationship between orality and literacy in light of the "ethnography of computer-mediated communication" (306)—e-mails, in particular—and concludes that computer-mediated communications, while finally textual, possess fundamentally oral properties. The disembodied, and ultimately lawless, "virtual" world in which this communication takes place also promotes a subversion of traditional literacies.
McCarthy, William B. 1990. The Ballad Matrix. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Examines the ballads of Agnes Lyle of Kilbarchan, a prolific Scottish performer whose songs were collected by William Motherwell in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. M. devotes a chapter each to the background, technique, and leitmotifs of Lyle's ballads, revealing that she relied in performance on learned oral-traditional patterns of thought and expression, patterns that M. shows nevertheless to be open to innovations still shaped by tradition.
This volume brings together both scholarly research on the North American Jack tales and eight transcribed Jack tales by renowned storytellers. Part 1, on "The Hicks-Harmon (Beech Mountain) Jack Tale Tradition," features Joseph Sobol on the storyteller Ray Hicks (paired with a tale by Hicks), Carl Lindahl on Frank Proffitt, Jr. (with a tale by Proffitt, Jr.), Cheryl Oxford on Marshall Ward (with a tale by Ward), Bill Ellis on Maud Gentry Long (with a tale by Long), and W. F. H. Nicolaisen on storytelling on Beech Mountain. Part 2, "Jack in the Storytelling Revival," contains Ruth Stotter and McCarthy's introduction to revivalist storytelling, McCarthy on Leonard Roberts (paired with a tale by Roberts), Sobol on Donald Davis (with a tale by Davis), Kenneth A. Thigpen on Bonelyn Lugg Kyofski (with a tale by Kyofski), and Kay Stone on Stewart Cameron (with a tale by Cameron).
Helpful bibliographical essay that charts the course of oral theory. Begins with a brief history of the field, proceeding from there to cover in particular the work of John Miles Foley and Gregory Nagy, and then providing overviews of scholarship in the fields of Homeric, biblical, medieval, modern/contemporary, and ballad studies. Also discusses books in translation and ends with works that seek to explore the "broader picture" of the relationship(s) between orality and literacy.
McDowell, John Holmes. 1989. Sayings of the Ancestors: The Spiritual Life of the Sibundoy Indians. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Examines the folk religion, or "spiritual life," of the inhabitants of Sibundoy Valley, Columbia as exhibited in the traditional sayings of the ancestors. These sayings, which function as acts of divination, divide into two major genres, those about dreams (muscuycunamanda) and those about signs and portents (tapiacunamanda). Using extensive examples and interviews, McDowell illustrates how these sayings intersect with and bring to presence the ancestral and spirit worlds of the Sibundoy. Interlinear translations of the sayings insert a line of word-for-word literal English translation between the original Inga and the English, with grammatical relationships explained in brackets.
McDowell's essay calls attention to the multitude of southern Native American oral traditions. Rejecting the isolated text in translation, he presents a checklist for the ethnographer or student who approaches an oral performance with the intent to turn it into a text that can do justice to the original. McDowell applies his suggested approach to a corn-planting day proverb from the Santiagueńos of Columbia.
McKean, Thomas A. 2001. "The Fieldwork Legacy of James Macpherson." Journal of American Folklore, 114: 447-63.
Discussion of Macpherson's fieldwork techniques, concentrating on his reasons and motives for undertaking his Ossian project, his expectations for it, his early collecting experiences, his field methodology, and his initial processing of his material.
McKitterick, Rosamond. 1990. Ed., The Uses of Literacy in Early Mediaeval Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Collection of eleven essays on the uses and consequences of literacy in the world of the early Middle Ages. An introduction by the editor gives the lay of the land, and is followed by Jane Stevenson on literacy in Ireland, Susan Kelly on "Anglo-Saxon lay society and the written word," Ian Wood on law and culture in Merovingian Gaul, Thomas F. X. Noble on literacy and the papal government, Roger Collins on lay literacy in Spain, Stefan C. Reif on literacy among the Jews, Margaret Mullett on writing in Byzantium, John Mitchell on inscriptions at the monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno, Simono Keynes on "Royal government and the written word in late Anglo-Saxon England," Janet L. Nelson on literacy in the Carolingian court, and Rosamond McKitterick on "Text and image in the Carolingian world."
Mieder, Wolfgang. 1982. International Proverb Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland.
With 2,142 entries, and subject, proverb, and name indices, Mieder's annotated bibliography takes up the torch from Otto Moll's 1958 Sprichworterbibliographie.
A collection of twenty diverse essays on the proverb, employing literary, sociological, psychological, and cultural approaches. Contains studies of African, Yiddish, Biblical, Shakespearean, Spanish, Finnish, and Irish proverbs, among others.
Miletich, John S. 1978a. "Oral-Traditional Style and Learned Literature: A New Perspective." Poetics and the Theory of Literature, 3: 345-56.
Comparative analysis of Serbo-Croatian oral, imitation oral (na narodnu), and literary texts; views "elaborate"-style repetition as characteristic of oral texts and as contributing to the seeming orality of the na narodnu samples.
Compares a sample of oral songs from a Zagreb archive with a sample of poems written in an imitation-oral style by the literate Kacic Miosic. Finds that the oral songs feature more varieties of repetition and posits this as a litmus test for truly oral texts.
A very brief introduction by M. is followed by a dozen articles: Vladimir Bovan on Yugoslav oral lyric, Hatidza Krnjevic on the poetics of Serbo-Croatian folk lyric, Tome Sazdov on Macedonian folk poetry, Josip Kekez on bugarstica, Maja Boskovic-Stulli on balladic forms of the bugarstica, Zmaga Kumer on the folk ballad in Slovenia, Jelka Redep on the legend of Kosovo, Marija Kleut on concluding formulas of audience address in Serbo-Croatian oral epic, Novak Kilibarda on Montenegrin oral epic, Denana Buturovic on South Slavic Moslem oral epic, Zdeslav Dukat on enjambement in Homeric and South Slavic epic, and Nada Milosevic-Dordevic on continuity and change in folk prose narrative.
Miner, Earl. 1993. "Poetic Contests." In The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Alex Preminger and T. V. F. Brogan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pp. 925-27.
Brief but informative conceptual and historical overview of the poetic contest—defined not as a discrete genre "but rather the verbal expression of a general mode of human interaction—the aggressive and the agonistic—whose roots extend deep into biology and psychology" (925). Includes short discussions of specific agonistic texts and practices both ancient and modern, Western and Eastern.
Morris, Ian and Barry Powell. 1997. Eds., A New Companion to Homer. Leiden: Brill.
Thirty essays by leading Homeric scholars in four parts ("Transmission and History of Interpretation," "Homer's Language," "Homer as Literature," and "Homer's Worlds"). An invaluable reference tool for students and scholars of Homer.
Murko, Matija. 1990. "The Singers and Their Epic Songs." Trans. J. M. Foley. Oral Tradition, 5: 107-30.
Drawing upon his fieldwork among the South Slavic peoples, Murko provides a richly detailed account of the folk poetry performed by professional singers. His intent is to observe "the manner in which folk epic poetry lives; who the singers are; for whom, when, and how they sing; whether folk songs are still being created; and why the folk poetry is disappearing and dying" (112).
Nagy, Gregory. 1996a. Homeric Questions. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Four chapters explore the traditional nature of the Homeric poems by emphasizing (introduction, chapter 1, and epilogue) the primary importance of performance, oral tradition, and an inclusive, expansive philology. N. promotes in the two central chapters (2 and 3) an evolutionary model of the making of the Homeric text and of the making of Homeric poetry itself. Chapter 4 discusses the function of myth in Homer.
Part I consists of a comparative investigation of the dynamics of performance of the Homeric epics in antiquity and the representation of those dynamics, while Part II traces the relationship between Homer as sung performance in antiquity and our preserved text. N. proposes a five-step evolution for the Homeric text, with the poems reaching the form in which we experience them in the second century BCE.
Nagy, Joseph Falaky. 2001. "Observations on the Ossianesque in Medieval Literature and Modern Irish Folklore." Journal of American Folklore, 114: 436-46.
Proposes that we understand James Macpherson's literary appropriation and reinvention of the oral-traditional figures Ossian and Fingal as part of movement "going back to the middle ages" in the Fenian literature of medieval Ireland and "even to be found in 20th-century Irish storytelling" (436).
Niditch, Susan. 1995. "Oral Register in the Biblical Libretto: Towards a Biblical Poetic." Oral Tradition, 10: 387-408.
Focusing on repetition, formulaic language, traditional referentiality, and patterns of content, N. examines the case for an oral register in biblical texts in light of the findings of Parry and Lord.
Niles, John D. 1994. "Editing Beowulf: What Can Study of the Ballads Tell Us?" Oral Tradition, 9: 440-67.
After establishing the potential divergences in metrical fluidity between texts recorded from oral performance and literary texts from the pen of a learned author, N. argues that editors of Beowulf and other Old English texts "should respect the metrical freedoms and disjunctions that they discover, honoring them as possible signs of a human voice." He goes on to propose a twofold approach to reading Beowulf in particular: as both a text in the traditional literary sense and as a poem that must on some level be heard, an activity that requires us to "read through the text."
Overview of the Anglo-American ballad as a living oral genre, including sections on basic sources, the definition of the ballad genre, the importance of various contexts, and the value of sound recordings. The study of ballads, argues N., is of special import because it can reveal much about both the workings of oral tradition in particular communities and the nature of vernacular creativity.
An examination of the nature of storytelling—in particular the impulse that gives rise to it, its social function, and the place of the individual master storyteller, or "strong tradition-bearer"—through examples from the past (Old English poetry) and the present (especially modern Scottish storytellers). Argues that oral storytelling has been not just a principal carrier of culture, but even the foundation of human culture itself.
Nixon, Robert. 1994. Homelands, Harlem, and Hollywood: South African Culture and the World Beyond. New York: Routledge.
Covers the period of time from apartheid's inception in 1948 to its dissolution in 1994. Part One looks at South Africa's relationship to American culture, in particular the influence of Harlem, Hollywood, and American television. Part Two examines the consequences of Bessie Head's writings and of major boycotts. Part Three describes South Africa's relationship with world political and cultural phenomena, such as multiculturalism and ethnic cleansing.
Obiechina, Emmanuel. 1992. "Narrative Proverbs in the African Novel." Oral Tradition, 7: 197-230.
Notes first the general synthesis of literacy and orality in African literature in general, and then narrows the focus to the ubiquitous use of proverbs in the African novel. African novelists, O. claims, are particularly adept at embedding oral narratives within the novel's larger literary frame; a detailed discussion of embedded proverbs in Achebe's Things Fall Apart illustrates the possibilities and dynamics of this technique.
O'Donnell, James J. 1998. Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
A wide-ranging book aimed at, in the words of the author, "people who read books and use computers and wonder what the two have to do with each other" (ix). Although not a history of reading and writing in the West, O. begins with Plato and the Alexandrian library and moves through discussions of such subjects as Augustine and Renaissance readers. Woven throughout are the author's thoughts on the relationship between old models of reading and writing and their survival in an age that is increasingly devoted to hypertexts, cyberspace, and computer literacies.
Oesterreicher, Wulf. 1997. "Types of Orality in Text." In Written Voices, Spoken Signs: Tradition, Performance, and the Epic Text, ed. by Egbert Bakker and Ahuvia Kahane. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. pp. 190-214, 257-60.
A theoretical, linguistic-based discussion of the relationships between orality and textuality. After a discussion of this distinction, O. presents a typology of eight kinds of orality in text (based, it should be noted, on Latin examples, but applicable to other literate communities), followed by a stimulating consideration of the status of oral poetry. Makes the important point that in analyzing the orality of any text or utterance, the aspects of medium (e.g., spoken versus written) and conception (the style and register of a particular discourse) must be treated independently.
Oinas, Felix J. 1978. Ed., Heroic Epic and Saga: An Introduction to the World's Great Folk Epics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
A series of essays introducing heroic epics belonging to or deriving from a multitude of both living and past oral traditions, including the Homeric, Mesopotamian, Sanskrit, Iranian, Anglo-Saxon, German, Icelandic, Irish, French, Spanish, Russian, South Slavic, Balto-Finnic, Turkish, and African. These essays explore such issues as the epic's role in tribal or national history, historical accuracy, the relation of oral performance to written text, the suitability of oral-formulaic theory to the heroic epics of non-South Slavic provenance, and the description and role of the epic hero. In addition, each author has equipped his or her essay with an annotated bibliography.
O'Keeffe, Katherine O'Brien. 1990. Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Using Old English manuscripts as evidence, the author argues for the persistence of "residual orality" in the written records of verse. Examples are drawn from Caedmon's Hymn, Solomon and Saturn I, the Metrical Preface to Alfred's Pastoral Care, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the Exeter manuscript.
Okpewho, Isidore. 1992. African Oral Literature: Backgrounds, Character, Continuity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Systematic and thoroughgoing overview of African oral literature. Part One ("Backgrounds and Resources") includes an introduction to "oral literature" and chapters on the oral artist, oral performance, oral stylistic qualities (repetition, tonality, digression, imagery, etc.), and social relevance. Part Two ("Types and Themes") provides accounts of various forms of African oral art (songs and chants, narratives, witticisms, and drama), while Part Three ("The Survival of Oral Literature") is devoted to the forms and spaces that ensure such survival.
Olson, David R. 1994. The World on Paper: The Conceptual and Cognitive Implications of Writing and Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Focuses on how knowledge and ways of knowing were altered by increases in text-focused activity (reading, writing, analyzing, and pictorial representation) in the West. Olson describes himself as "a step-child of Jerome Bruner, Jack Goody, Marshall McLuhan and Eric Havelock" (xviii).
Collection of fifteen essays exploring the nature of orality and oral discourse as well as the cultural and cognitive impact of orality and literacy. Divided into "Oral and literate aspects of culture and cognition," "Oral and literate forms of discourse," and "Oral and literate aspects of cognition."
Ong, Walter J. 1981. Fighting for Life: Contest, Sexuality, and Consciousness. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Through the prisms of gender, social anthropology, oral theory, and a modified sociobiology, O. explores the myriad manifestations of competition in human life and their contribution to the evolution of consciousness. Includes stimulating discussions of ritual combat, male bravado, the agonistic roots of academia, and the competition that inheres in the modern venues of sports, politics, business, and church.
A remarkable and very influential book, and a fine introduction of sorts to 'oral literature,' though it is much more than that: O. explores such matters as the origin of oral studies, the psychodynamics of orality, the way that writing restructures human consciousness, and how writing contributes to memory and the storage and retrieval of knowledge.
Opland, Jeff. 1983. Xhosa Oral Poetry: Aspects of a Black South African Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Overview and analysis of the extensive world of Xhosa oral poetry. O. first presents documentary evidence illustrating the complexity of the Xhosa oral poetic traditions, then considers in finer detail the imbongi (praise-poet), the power and place of eulogy and ritual, the idea of an oral noetics among the Xhosa, and print and the changing nature of Xhosa poetic traditions.
Oral Tradition. 1986-. A journal devoted to the world's oral traditions and related forms. Searchable index at <http://www.oraltradition.org>.
The only academic journal devoted primarily to the study of the world's oral traditions (ancient through contemporary), Oral Tradition provides a forum for scholarly work on the creation, transmission, and interpretation of all forms of oral traditional expression.
Parks, Ward. 1990. Verbal Dueling in Heroic Narrative: The Homeric and Old English Traditions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
A study of ritualized verbal combat, or flyting, in a number of traditions, with an emphasis on the interplay between words and the actual physical combat that follows them. The place of flyting in the oral and literary traditions under review—this study is not, despite its title, limited to the worlds of Homer and Old English, but discusses inter alia the Sanskrit Mahâbhârata, the dozens, and even contemporary sports talk—leads to interesting conclusions about cultural and literary patterning, while demonstrating both the universality and malleability of the verbal dueling paradigm.
Parry, Milman. 1971. The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rpt. 1987.
The definitive collection of the revolutionary and indispensable work of Milman Parry on Homeric epic, work that remains a touchstone for Homeric scholarship of the twentieth century and represents one of the pivotal moments in the long and distinguished history of that field. Much of the material—especially P.'s two Paris thčses (here translated from the French by Adam Parry, the editor and Milman's son)—is technically demanding and requires a working knowledge of Homeric Greek and its verse-form, the dactylic hexameter. The focus throughout is on the oral-traditional quality of Homeric diction, the "traditional technique of verse-making": the metrical economy of the formulaic system, the metrical suitability of the epithet, the traditional qualities of the metaphor, and so on. P.'s work is essential reading for anyone interested in the language, style, and even content of the Homeric poems.
Pennington, Anne and Peter Levi. 1984. Marko and the Prince. New York: St. Martin's Press.
English translations of South Slavic heroic songs about the popular hero Marko Kraljevic. Each song is preceded by a short introduction. Based on the text of Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic's Srpske narodne pjesme and M. Pantic's edition of Narodne pesme u zapisima xv-xviii veka.
Pihel, Erik. 1996. "A Furified Freestyle: Homer and Hip Hop." Oral Tradition, 11: 249-69.
Compares the features of oral-formulaic song (with special reference to the findings of Parry and Lord) with features of rap music such as rhyme, rhythm, and the improvisational mode known as freestyling.
Pinsky, Robert. 1998. The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
A short, engaging guide to the aural nuts and bolts of poetry by the former Poet Laureate of the United States. Five chapters ("Accent and Duration," "Syntax and Line," "Technical Terms and Vocal Realities," "Like and Unlike Sounds," "Blank Verse and Free Verse," each with examples on almost every page) elaborate upon the thesis of the book—that "poetry is a vocal, which is to say a bodily, art" in which "the reader's breath and hearing embody the poet's words"(8) —by investigating in detail the sonic effects of syllables, words, and lines.
Porter, James. 2001. "'Bring Me the Head of James Macpherson': The Execution of Ossian and the Wellsprings of Folkloristic Discourse." Journal of American Folklore, 114: 396-435.
P. delves not into the "authenticity" of Macpherson's Ossian poems as such, but into Macpherson's personality and motives, seeking to better understand his attitude towards his audience and such allied problems as the nature of "recomposition" and the difficulty of refashioning native cultural ideas and meanings.
Powell, Barry B. 1991. Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
A systematic and technically exacting overview of scholarship on the origins of the Greek alphabet and considerations of its social milieu and earliest uses precede a vigorous (if controversial) argument that the Greek alphabet was in fact invented by one man, who probably lived in Euboea, for the sole purpose of writing down the Homeric poems.
Prendergast, Guy L. 1971 . A Complete Concordance to the Iliad of Homer. Rev. by Benedetto Marzullo. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.
Scholarly tool that lists every word of the Iliad and the book and line number(s) where it appears.
Raffel, Burton. 1963. Trans., Beowulf. New York: Mentor. Rpt. 1999.
A verse translation of the Old English epic Beowulf. Raffel employs a four-beat line and varied alliteration "to re-create something roughly equivalent in the new language, something that is good poetry and that at the same time carries a reasonable measure of the force and flavor of the original" (xxi). Includes an introduction by Raffel and an afterword by Robert P. Creed.
Like his translation of Beowulf, Raffel's words capture the tone and sense of the poems and prose works here, while seldom straying from the letter of the Old English. The book includes selections from the majority of extant Anglo-Saxon genres and works—the so-called elegies (such as The Seafarer, Deor, and A Woman's Lament), heroic poems (such as The Battle of Maldon and Elene), religious poems (Dream of the Rood, Caedmon's Hymn, and so on), wisdom poetry, charms, and many examples of historical, legal, religious, and instructional prose.
Raheja, Gloria Goodwin. 1997. South Asian Oral Traditions. A special issue of Oral Tradition, 12, i.
Eight articles explore the diversity and complexity of women's songs in South Asia. Contributors include Gloria Goodwin Raheja on women's oral traditions and ethnography and on representations of desire in North Indian oral traditions, Kirin Narayan on women's voices in Kangra folksongs, Sarah Lamb on older women's narratives in West Bengal, Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger on female healers in South Asian Islam, Ann Grodzins Gold on women's voices in a Rajasthani folklore community, Kathryn S. March on Tamang narratives from Highland Nepal, and A. K. Ramanujan on the tale "A Flowering Tree."
Rai, B. A. Viveka. 1996. "Epic in the Oral Genre System of Tulunadu." Oral Tradition, 11: 163-72.
An overview of South Indian oral genres, specifically epic, in the Tulu language in the Dakshina Kannada district. Rai focuses on the Paddana (Epic), often sung by women, and on the Siri and Koti-chennaya long epics.
Ramsey, Jarold. 1999. Reading the Fire: The Traditional Indian Literatures of America. Rev. ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
A revised and updated edition of the original 1983 publication, including four new essays. Ramsey explores the relationship of modern Native American literature of the West to earlier and contemporary oral/traditional narratives. The first section addresses three major genres of verbal art: creation and origin myths, trickster stories, and medical rituals and chants. In the second section Ramsey devises models for and performs a close literary analysis of five individual stories. The third section addresses the adaptation and assimilation of Anglo-American literary forms by traditional narrative and the navigation of this issue by contemporary Native American writers.
Reichl, Karl. 1992. Turkic Oral Epic Poetry: Traditions, Forms, Poetic Structures. Albert Bates Lord Studies in Oral Literature, vol. 7. New York: Garland.
Thorough introduction to the world of Turkic oral epic. The first three chapters cover the cultural backgrounds and contexts, the earliest Turkic epic, and the place of the singer in the tradition. There follow chapters on performance and ritual, generic considerations, story-patterns, traditional diction, composition in performance and memory, and narrative style.
Rosenberg, Bruce A. 1994. "Forrest Spirits: Oral Echoes in Leon Forrest's Prose." Oral Tradition, 9: 315-27.
Discussion of Leon Forrest's use of the African-American folk sermon in his "multigeneric" novels.
Roy, Arundhati. 1997. The God of Small Things. New York: Random House.
An Indian novel whose characters, narrative structure, and themes are influenced by and patterned on katakali performances, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and other works related to Indian oral traditions.
Rubin, David C. 1995. Memory in Oral Traditions: The Cognitive Psychology of Epic, Ballads, and Counting-Out Rhymes. New York: Oxford University Press.
Taking note of the "converging evidence and theoretical sophistication" concerning memory in the fields of cognitive psychology and oral tradition, Rubin sets out to merge these two areas. The first few chapters discuss the organizational and mnemonic techniques exhibited by theme, imagery, and patterns of sound in oral traditions. In later chapters Rubin develops an integrated model for recall and applies it to examples from the genres of epic, counting-out rhymes, and ballads.
Rychner, Jean. 1955. La Chanson de geste: Essai sur l'art épique des jongleurs. Geneva and Lille: Droz and Giard.
Drawing upon Albert Lord and Milman Parry's oral-formulaic theory, Rychner points out the composition, strophes, formulas, and themes in nine poems in the chanson de geste tradition, including La Chanson de Roland, La Chanson de Guillaume, and Gormont et Isembart. He describes the chanson de geste as it was probably performed by court jongleurs and as it appears in manuscript form. Rychner concludes that La Chanson de Roland is an atypical example of an oral-derived epic poem.
Saenger, Paul. 1997. Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Fascinating analytical history of the evolution of two concepts all readers now take for granted: silent reading to oneself and space between individual words on the page. Ancient reading was oral and social, and the practice of silent reading emerged, the author contends, in response to the transformed social contexts created by the fall of Rome. The resulting change on the written page—the separation of individual words—occurred slowly, and reflects not only new perspectives on the place of texts in medieval cultures, but also the distance between the human mentalities governing oral and silent reading.
Sale, Merritt. 1999. "Virgil's Formularity and Pius Aeneas." In , ed. E. A. Mackay. Leiden: Brill. Pp. 199-220.
S. explores the idea of Vergil as a formulaic poet. Begins by establishing the Roman poet's relationship to Homeric formularity, claiming that Vergil employs formulae not to imitate Homer but to "be an independent witness to the age of the Trojan War and tell the essential and traditional truths that formulae tell" (200). Concludes with examinations of specific formulae, with particular attention paid to the recurrent phrase pius Aeneas ("dutiful Aeneas").
Sargent, Stuart H. 1994. "Contexts of the Song Lyric in Sung Times: Communication Technology, Social Change, Morality." In Voices of the Song Lyric in China, ed. Pauline Yu. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Pp. 226-56.
Concentrates on the social and material context in which Sung Chinese song lyrics were preserved in writing, particularly in Chiang-nan West Circuit.
Schaefer, Ursula. 1993. "Alterities: On Methodology in Medieval Literary Studies." Oral Tradition, 8: 187-214.
Schaefer's essay explores Reception Theory and the Orality/Literary question in the field of medieval studies. She stresses a need for awareness of cultural difference, in particular of the reception anomalies between the decoding processes of the medieval peoples who created and used texts and the contemporary scholars and readers who now study them.
Schmandt-Besserat, Denise. 1992. Before Writing, vol. 1: From Counting to Cuneiform. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Abundantly illustrated examination of the use and evolution of physical tokens and symbols among early civilizations, as well as the economy of symbolic communication, and the emergence of writing.
SCHS. 1953-. Serbocroatian Heroic Songs (Srpskohrvatske junacke pjesme). Coll. by Milman Parry and Albert Lord, ed. and trans. by Albert Lord and David Bynum. Cambridge, Mass. and Belgrade: Harvard University Press and the Serbian Academy of Sciences.
The continuing publication series of epic songs collected by Milman Parry and Albert Lord in the Former Yugoslavia. The first four volumes (1-2 on the Novi Pazar district, 3-4 on Avdo Medjedovic's The Wedding of Smailagic Meho) include both original-language texts and English translations.
Seeger, Judith. 1990. Count Claros: Study of a Ballad Tradition. New York: Garland.
Extensive study of a ballad tradition spanning four centuries and five continents. Seeger pursued her research in the field (Espírito Santo, Brazil and León, Spain) and in libraries and archives. John Miles Foley notes in the General Editor's Foreword, "the present work offers an especially rich contribution to studies in oral tradition, one that promises to be of value to Hispanists, folklorists, and comparatists alike" (xiii).
Sherzer, Joel. 1998. Verbal Art in San Blas: Kuna Culture through its Discourse. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Orig. ed. publ. 1990 by Cambridge University Press.
Collection of transcriptions and translations of Kuna (a large Native American group in Panama) verbal art, ranging from myths and oratory to supernatural communications with spirits. Includes detailed accounts of each transcription, highlighting the performance context and various notable aspects of Kuna poetics.
Shuman, Amy. 1986. Storytelling Rights: The Uses of Oral and Written Texts by Urban Adolescents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Drawing upon fieldwork conducted for two and one-half years at an inner-city Junior High School in the Eastern United States, Shuman examines how fight narratives, both oral and written, are used by adolescents. In her Introduction Shuman writes, "my purpose is to examine the contextual uses of writing and speaking, more specifically, written and oral narratives in everyday life" (17).
Small, Jocelyn Penny. 1997. Wax Tablets of the Mind: Cognitive Studies of Memory and Literacy in Classical Antiquity. New York: Routledge.
Broad study of the evidence for ancient attitudes towards memory and cognition. Part I examines the "Logistics of the classical literate," focusing on such topics as the ancient book, libraries, the Muses, and the difficulties surrounding "information retrieval"; Part II considers both the Greek and Roman contributions to "The historical development of ancient memory techniques"; and Part III provides an overview of the "Writing habits of the literate."
Smith, Colin. 1964. Ed., Spanish Ballads. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Collection of (untranslated) Spanish historical ballads, Carolingian ballads, and novelesque ballads. An introduction addresses the definition of the Spanish ballad, their origins and development, and their form, structure, and recurrent themes.
Smith, John D. 1991. Ed. and trans., The Epic of Pabuji: A Study, Transcription, and Translation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
A transcription and translation, with illustrations, of the epic of Pabuji, a medieval folk hero still worshipped in western Rajasthan. Includes an introduction and sections on the music and art that accompany the epic's performance, as well as information about Pabuji's status as both man and god.
Stock, Brian. 1983. The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and the Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Raises important issues about language, texts, and interpretations of reality relevant to the fields of literature, history, philosophy, theology, critical theory, cultural studies, and the social sciences. Stock advances three perspectives on how the revival of literacy and the interrelationship of literacy and orality affected European societies: first, "the replacement of much linear, evolutionary thinking with a contextualist approach" (5); second, a shift from refuge in universal tenets to "the reaffirmation of a theory of the middle range" (6); and third, changes in language and culture. He describes both the "external history" and "internal history" of literacy's penetration into multiple facets of medieval life, noting that the resulting increase in analysis and interpretation was "the ontological cement binding the apparently isolated activities" (11). Explores these issues in relationship to early heresy, the Eucharist, and writings by Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, and Bernard of Clairvaux.
Wide-ranging collection of essays on various aspects of orality and literacy. S. tackles such diverse issues as medieval literacy and academic medievalism, Max Weber and western rationality, the textual communities of Judaism and Christianity, and the works of Saussure, Ricoeur, and Foucault.
Street, Brian V. 1984. Literacy in Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Analysis of the concept of 'literacy' itself, particularly the claims of neutrality and objectivity attached to it by linguists, developmental psychologists, and other scholars. In section 1, S. critiques the 'autonomous' theory of literacy, particularly that put forth by Jack Goody, and the 'ideological' model. Section 2 examines literacy in theory and practice, and the third section looks at literacy in practice by considering, among other things, adult literacy campaigns in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Collection of essays representative of "the new literacy studies." Part 1 ("The incorporation of literacy into the communicative repertoire") includes contributions by Niko Besnier on Nukulaelae letters and Maurice Bloch on schooling and literacy in a Zafimaniry village; Part 2 ("Local literacies and national politics: ethnicity, gender, and religion") features I. M. Lewis' case study of Somali literacy and cultural identity and Peter Probst on literacy and religious authority in western Nigeria; Part 3 ("Literacy variation in urban settings") includes Miriam Camitta on the varieties of literacy among Philadelphia high school students and Amy Shuman on the problems of collaborative writing.
S. explores the social pressures, political agendas, and myths that swirl around literacy and orality, as well as the idea that orality and literacy are ideological constructions that may be put to various uses in education and in our understanding of other cultures.
Svenbro, Jesper. 1999. "Archaic and Classical Greece: The Invention of Silent Reading." In Cavallo and Chartier 1999: 37-63.
A short overview of the practice of reading in the primarily oral cultures of Archaic and Classical Greece. Discusses the Greek words for "reading," the cultural interplay between the speaking and reading voice and the written and read word, and the contested nature of silent reading at the time. Concludes that "silent reading among the Greeks remained profoundly determined by reading aloud."
Swann, Brian. 1983. Ed., Smoothing the Ground: Essays on Native American Oral Literature. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
This collection comprises an introductory essay titled "Native American Literatures," five essays under the heading of "The Question of Translation and Literary Criticism" (including works by Dennis Tedlock and Karl Kroeber), six essays under the heading of "Focus on Stories" (including an essay by Dell Hymes), six essays under the heading of "Native American Culture and the 'Dominant' Culture" (including essays by Arnold Krupat, Jarold Ramsey, and Kroeber), and a final essay by Kroeber and H. David Brumble III, "Reasoning Together."
The editor describes the 23 essays collected here as "varied, but each one has reached out from a specific discipline, whether anthropology, linguistics, folklore, or English, to seek common ground where the humanities and social sciences meet in polyphony" (xviii) on the subject of Native American verbal arts. There are three major sections: "General," "North America," and "Central and South America."
Collection of twenty-one essays by linguists, folklorists, poets, literary critics and theorists, and anthropologists on Native American literature. Includes both theoretical and practical contributions on the mythographic presentation of Native American literature as well as individual interpretations of oral and written works of Native American verbal art.
Swiderski, Richard M. 1988. "Oral Text: A South Indian Instance." Oral Tradition, 3: 122-37.
S. stresses the interdependent nature of the relationship between orality and literacy in his analyses of several types of Kerala song.
Tanselle, G. Thomas. 1995. "The Varieties of Textual Editing." In Greetham 1995: 9-32.
An introduction to and brief historical overview of the concerns, varieties, and issues associated with modern textual editing.
Taylor, Andrew. 2001. "Was There a Song of Roland?" Speculum, 76: 28-65.
Taylor gives a historical overview of Roland's tale as it has been described and alluded to prior to the appearance of Francisque Michel's 1837 edition of La Chanson de Roland transcribed by him from a twelfth-century Oxford manuscript. Taylor notes the epic's importance to French nationalism and explores the debate about whether the Bodleian version we have today is drawn directly from epic tales performed by court singers or is the literary work of a single genius. He concludes that there were songs of Roland that would have been sustained and understood by medieval audiences in the context of its oral tradition.
Tedlock, Dennis. 1972. Trans., Finding the Center: Narrative Poetry of the Zuni Indians. New York: Dial Press, 1972. Rpt. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978.
An ethnopoetic translation of 13 Zuni narrative poems. Provides cues for reading aloud, such as capital letters, raised lines of type, and dots. Tedlock's Introduction acquaints the reader with Zuni storytelling culture and the storytelling styles of the two men whose performances are the basis for this book.
Ethnopoetic study of Zuni stories and storytellers. T. provides ethnopoetic transcriptions of a number of stories, each followed by analysis. Central to the discussion is the advantage of phonographic recordings for such analysis. T. moves deftly between such issues as transcription and translation, the various registers of Zuni poetics, and the hermeneutics of the American Indian spoken word.
Broaches two major issues confronting the ethnographer: (1) how does one make an accurate and valid textual translation of an oral performance, and (2) how does one represent another culture's distinct conceptions about and practice of discourse? Tedlock takes up these issues with respect to the Quiché Maya of Guatemala.
Translation of the Popol Vuh, with commentary based on the ancient knowledge of the Quiché Maya.
Titon, Jeff Todd. 1988. Powerhouse for God: Speech, Chant, and Song in an Appalachian Baptist Church. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Between 1975 and 1985 Titon and his colleague, Kenneth M. George, conducted fieldwork at the Fellowship Independent Baptist Church near Stanley, Virginia in the northern Blue Ridge mountains of Appalachia. Drawing upon his background in folklore and ethnomusicology, Titon creates a very thorough and personal examination of the practice of religion in the forms of song, prayer, teaching, preaching, and testimony. He also supplies geographical and material history of agrarian folklife, specifically mountain farming, in this region.
Toelken, Barre. 1998. "Native American Traditions (North)." In Foley 1998a: 151-61.
Toelken's discussion of Native American oral tradition in North America draws upon performance theory and the culture reflector approach. Toelken argues that texts drawn from Native American oral performances cannot be understood in isolation, and thus it is imperative to learn as much as possible about the culture from which a text has sprung.
Urban, Greg. 1991. A Discourse-Centered Approach to Culture: Native South American Myth and Rituals. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Linguistic and theoretical consideration of the complex reciprocities between language and culture, as seen through the prisms of consciousness, parallelism, grammar, and style.
Vikis-Freibergs, Vaira. 1989b. "Text Variants in the Latvian Folk-Song Corpus: Theoretical and Practical Problems." In Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folk Songs, ed. by Vaira Vikis-Freibergs. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 49-72.
Collection of nineteen essays, most of them investigating the nature of the Latvian daina (folk song), in honor of the scholar Krisjanis Barons. The essays are divided into seven parts: "Krisjanis Barons: The Man and His Work," "Research and the Daina Corpus," "Baltic Mythology," "Lexicology and Poetics," "Semantic Analyses," "Metrics and Melodies," and "The Longer Songs, Romances, and Ballads." Contributors include Vaira Vikis-Freibergs, Albert B. Lord, Helge D. Rinholm, Rainer Eckert, and Stephen C. Reynolds.
Vitz, Evelyn Birge. 1998. "Old French Literature." In Foley 1998a: 373-81.
Vitz's essay depicts a medieval French scenario involving a typical jongleur, or professional singer of tales, and his experiences in the court of a typical lord. She uses this dramatic scenario to present ten major points concerning the roles of oral culture, literacy, and their intermingling in medieval French society.
Wagner, Richard A. 1983. "Different Views of Historical Reality: Oral and Written Recollections in a Serbian Village." Southeastern Europe, 10:175-88.
Methodological essay that compares written genealogical records to oral genealogical recall in a Serbian village. Argues that researchers of any living tradition need to account, where possible, for both modes of discourse in order to obtain a better understanding of the culture and cultural processes under examination.
Warner, Elizabeth A. 1974. "Pushkin in the Russian Folk-Plays." In Oral Literature: Seven Essays, ed. by Joseph J. Duggan. Edinburgh and New York: Scottish Academic Press and Barnes and Noble. pp. 101-7.
Posits that, through Pushkin, literary elements ended up in Russian oral traditions, as verses from literary plays were incorporated into folk meters.
Webber, Ruth H. 1986a. "The Cantar de Mio Cid: Problems of Interpretation." In Foley 1986: 65-88.
Investigation of the scholarly debate surrounding the origins—oral or literate?—of the Spanish medieval epic the Cantar de Mio Cid and an analysis of that debate's effects on interpretation of the work.
A survey of scholarship on the Hispanic epic, ballad, lyric, folktale, and the proverb.
Wehmeyer-Shaw, Debra. 1993. "Rap Music: An Interview with DJ Romeo." Oral Tradition, 8: 225-46.
Missouri rap artist D. J. Romeo speaks on such subjects as the origins of rap, his tutelage as a young man, the composition and performance of rap, freestyling, formulaic language, and rap's social functions.
Wilson, Duncan. 1986. The Life and Times of Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic, 1787-1864. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. Orig. ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
Despite the fact that Wilson, a diplomat, does not make use of primary sources, his biography of this Serbian scholar appears well-researched and erudite. Vuk, as he is called by the Serbs, was a key figure in nineteenth-century Serbian romantic nationalism; he produced well-known collections of Serbian folksongs and tirelessly campaigned for linguistic and orthographical reforms, including acceptance of the Serb popular language as an acceptable medium for literary works.
Yang Enhong. 1998. "A Comparative Study of the Singing Styles of Mongolian and Tibetan Geser/Gesar Artists." Oral Tradition, 13: 422-34.
A brief overview of various aspects of the performance of the epic King Gesar in Inner Mongolia and Tibet, including short biographies of famous singers, accounts of pre-performance rituals, and information about the language, instruments, and costumes of the singers.
Zemke, John. 1998. "General Hispanic Traditions." In Foley 1998a: 202-15.
Introductory discussions of neo-individualism, neo-traditionalism, and the variety of Hispanic oral traditions are followed by overviews of women's song and lyric poetry, epic (in particular the Cantar de mio Cid), romances, and proverbs, jokes, and riddles.
Zumthor, Paul. 1987. La Lettre et la voix: De la "littérature" médiévale. Paris: Editions du Seuil.
Beautifully written but demanding exploration of orality in various medieval literatures. Z. elaborates on such fundamental issues as memory, community, performance, diction, and "le texte vocalisé."
A lively, even passionate book that seeks to find a "general poetics of orality" by concentrating principally on the irreducible phenomenon of the human voice. The voice, which finds its greatest signifying potential in song, is set against the textual world; the former, Z. claims, is a vehicle of infinitely greater expression. Separate sections focus on the nature of 'poetic orality' and the debates surrounding its nature, on the forms and performance of oral song, and on the roles and functions of the singer, the audience, and concepts such as geography and mouvance. Z.'s approach is theoretical, though the range of his specific examples is very broad indeed.
Zumwalt, Rosemary Lévy. 1998. "A Historical Glossary of Critical Approaches." In Foley 1998a: 75-94.
Zumwalt's essay describes the theories about oral tradition developed by twentieth-century folklorists under the following categories: twentieth-century "mechanical approaches" to the study of origins, cultural approaches, patterns of text, structuralist and interpretive approaches, psychoanalysis, ethnopoetics, performance, feminism, and authenticity.