Teaching Oral Traditions

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Research is beginning to unearth the astounding wealth of oral traditions that have served as a vital cultural activity and verbal art for peoples throughout the world, from antiquity to the present. In this thirteenth volume of the MLA series Options for Teaching, forty-two scholar-teachers bring these discoveries and rediscoveries from the scholarly forum to the classroom.

The essays in this exciting field touch on more than a hundred traditions and draw from the methodologies of literary studies, folklore, anthropology, and linguistics. They are filled with vivid specifics. Among the subjects discussed are the unwritten roots of the Bible; the genesis and art of the Homeric poems; Native American traditions, like the Zuni "Deer Boy" tale and the Quechua proverb "Corn-Planting Day"; the performance of the African American toast "Stagolee"; Old English charms for afflictions; Mexican American corridos; the Travelling People of Scotland; African trickster tales; women's songs of mid-eleventh-century Andalusia; a Yiddish picaresque narrative; the fifth-century Indian Tale of an Anklet; South Slavic epics; the oral traditions behind Beowulf and behind the Canterbury Tales; the professional entertainers (jongleurs) of medieval France; and Icelandic sagas.

Teaching Oral Traditions demonstrates the importance of performance and challenges many current assumptions about the authority of the written word.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The breadth of the volume--the variety of theories, materials, and practices that it features--is exceptional. It is an important and valuable collection of essays that will be of great use to those who teach oral traditions." --Margaret H. Beissinger, University of Wisconsin-Madison

A collection of essays introducing generalists and specialists to the repertoire of pedagogical approaches to the world's past and present oral traditions, identifying key issues and practical applications. Surveys the nature and scope of oral traditions, describes the prominent critical approaches, presents 25 brief tutorials on commonly taught works and areas, and lists specific pedagogical examples and audiovisual resources. The index is limited to names and titles. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher

"The breadth of the volume--the variety of theories, materials, and practices that it features--is exceptional. It is an important and valuable collection of essays that will be of great use to those who teach oral traditions." --Margaret H. Beissinger, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873523714
  • Publisher: Modern Language Association of America
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Series: Options for Teaching , #13
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 548
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

John Miles Foley is Byler Chair in the Humanities, Curators' Professor of Classical Studies and English, and director of the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition at the University of Missouri, Columbia, as well as founding editor of the Journal Oral Tradition. In addition to Immanent Art, Traditional Oral Epic, The Singer of Tales in Performance, and The Theory of Oral Composition: History and Methodology, he has written numerous articles in the fields of oral tradition, ancient Greek, Old English, and South Slavic.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: An Audience for Oral Traditions 1
The Impossibility of Canon 13
What Would a True Comparative Literature Look Like? 34
The Performing Body on the Oral-Literate Continuum: Old English Poetry 46
Leading Proteus Captive: Editing and Translating Oral Tradition 59
A Historical Glossary of Critical Approaches 75
Contemporary Critical Approaches and Studies in Oral Tradition 95
The Ethnography of Performance in the Study of Oral Traditions 106
Ethnopoetics 123
Traditional Referentiality: The Aesthetic Power of Oral Traditional Structures 136
Native American Traditions North 151
Native American Traditions South 162
African Oral Narrative Traditions 174
African American Traditions 189
General Hispanic Traditions 202
Mexican American Oral Traditions 216
Jewish Oral Traditions 225
Indian Oral Traditions 239
Oral Performance and Orally Related Literature in China 250
Oral and Vocal Traditions of Japan 258
Arabic Traditions 266
South Slavic Traditions 273
British American Balladry 280
Teaching the Folktale Tradition 291
Women's Expressive Forms 298
Storytelling: Practice and Movement 308
The Hebrew Scriptures 321
New Testament Texts: Rhetoric and Discourse 330
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey 339
Beowulf 351
Chaucer 359
The Middle English Romance and the Alliterative Tradition 365
Old French Literature 373
The Icelandic Sagas 382
The Frame Tale East and West 391
The National Curriculum and the Teaching of Oral Traditions 403
Multiculturalism and Oral Traditions 423
Using Oral Tradition in a Composition Classroom 436
Course Descriptions and Syllabi 445
Selected Audiovisual and Internet Resources 465
Notes on Contributors 473
Works Cited 483
Index 525
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