112: Rhetoric of Narrative Genres in Non-Literate Societies
Instructor(s) Daniel MeliaSpring 2013
Instructor(s) Daniel Melia
Writing is a colonizing tool. So difficult is this for us, as literates, to grasp and to live with that fact that we come to endorse Derrida's formulation that writing is prior to speech. Most of the world today, and all of the world in the past was not literate, did not use books.Why don't we study this phenomenon? Virtually all other courses in the humanities and social sciences deal with written, verbally‑fixed texts. The primary material of this course is taken from multiform, oral/traditional texts, mainly from Europe and Africa, and from texts whose content or shape is strongly influenced by orally transmitted material. Many of the generalizations that you may have internalized about understanding the rhetoric of texts will have to be re‑examined because the relationship between author and audience in an oral setting is different in many crucial respects from that in a written setting.
Major aims of the course:
- Understanding how oral traditional narrative is composed and transmitted.
- Understanding the differences between the rhetorical techniques common to oral texts and those characteristic of written texts.
- Exploring some aspects of ancient, medieval and modern oral traditions.
- Creating an oral tradition in the class itself.
A.B. Lord, Singer of Tales
, Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press; (2nd
ed. 2000) paperback with CD; ISBN 0‑674‑00283-0; paper
Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Robert Fitzgerald, NY: Knopf, (Everyman ed.1992); ISBN 0679410473; paper
A. Dundes, editor, Cinderella, A Folklore Casebook, Univ. of Wisconsin Press (Backlist), 1982, ISBN 0-299-11864-9; paper
V. Propp, Morphology of the Folktale, Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1968; ISBN 0-292-78376-0; paper
John William Johnson, The Epic of Son-Jara, Indiana Univ. Press; ISBN 0-253-20713-4; paper