Poetics of Conduct: Oral Narrative and Moral Being in a South Indian Town / Edition 1

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Overview

Leela Prasad's riveting book presents everyday stories on subjects such as deities, ascetics, cats, and cooking along with stylized, publicly delivered ethical discourse, and shows that the study of oral narrative and performance is essential to ethical inquiry. Prasad builds on more than a decade of her ethnographic research in the famous Hindu pilgrimage town of Sringeri, Karnataka, in southwestern India, where for centuries a vibrant local culture has flourished alongside a tradition of monastic authority. Oral narratives and the seeing-and-doing orientations that are part of everyday life compel the question: How do individuals imagine the normative, and negotiate and express it, when normative sources are many and diverging? Moral persuasiveness, Prasad suggests, is intimately tied to the aesthetics of narration, and imagination plays a vital role in shaping how people create, refute, or relate to "text," "moral authority," and "community." Lived understandings of ethics keep notions of text and practice in flux and raise questions about the constitution of "theory" itself. Prasad's innovative use of ethnography, poetics, philosophy of language, and narrative and performance studies demonstrates how the moral self, with a capacity for artistic expression, is dynamic and gendered, with a historical presence and a political agency.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Oriental Society - Donald R. Davis

Her detailed, emphatic, and beautiful ethnography draws the reader into a consideration of issues that textual scholars struggle to "make relevant."

Journal of the American Oriental Society
Her detailed, emphatic, and beautiful ethnography draws the reader into a consideration of issues that textual scholars struggle to "make relevant.— Donald R. Davis, Jr.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231139212
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 11/14/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,199,806
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Leela Prasad is assistant professor of practical ethics and Indian religions at Duke University. She has edited Live Like the Banyan Tree: Images of the Indian American Experience and coedited Gender and Story in South India. Her book in progress, Annotating Pastimes, is a study of folktale collecting in colonial India.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsNote on Translation and TransliterationIntroduction1. Sringeri: Place and Placeness2. Connectedness and Reciprocity: Historicizing Sringeri Upacara3. Shastra: Divine Injunction and Earthly Custom4. "The Shastras Say... ": Idioms of Legitimacy and the "Imagined Text"5. In the Courtyard of Dharma, Not at the Village Square: Delivering Ashirvada in Sringeri6. Edifying Lives, Discerning Proprieties: Conversational Stories and Moral BeingEthics, an Imagined LifeNotesBibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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