Oral Tradition

Published by Johns Hopkins University Press
Online ISSN: 1542-4308
Publications
A critical discussion of the concept of 'performance literature' as applied to the cross-cultural and comparative analysis of literature, with special but not exclusive reference to the literatures of Asia and Africa
 
Coming from a background of comparative work on orality and literacy but a non-specialist on the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, I was struck by how the conference themes paralleled developments in oral literary studies in Africa. These included the move away from generalized assertion to more focused insights into multiple historical and culturally specific diversities; a more nuanced, culturally aware, and critical approach to the concept of “the oral”; the fading influence of speculative teleological models; the historically specific epistemologies of oral and written as part of the subject matter; and the concepts of multi-literacies and multi-oralities.
 
The Classics Version of Record
 
An examination of evidence for the oral culture at the time of Plato in his dialogues, especially Ion and Phaedrus. It looks at the way performances of poetry and rhetorical speeches were regarded, recorded and retrieved, both orally and in writing. It also examines the attitude to poetic inspiration in ancient Greece in comparison with cross-cultural evidence from anthropological studies.
 
It was not until the early decades of the nineteenth century that a concern for preserving variants of the same ballad was really taken seriously by collectors. Prior to this ballad editors had been content with documenting single illustrations of ballad types in their collections; that is, they gave only one version (and often a “conflated” or “amended” one at that), such as for instance Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry from 1765 and Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border from 1802. But with “the antiquarian’s quest for authenticity” (McAulay 2013:5) came the growing appreciation of the living ballad tradition and an interest in the singers themselves and their individual interpretations of the traditional material. From this point on attention was also given to different variations of the same ballad story, including documentation (however slight) of the ballads in their natural environment. William Motherwell (1797-1835) was one of the earliest ballad collectors to pursue this line of collecting, and he was very conscious of what this new approach would mean for a better understanding of the nature of an oral tradition. And as has been demonstrated elsewhere, Motherwell’s approach to ballad collecting had an immense impact on later collectors and editors (see also, Andersen 1994 and Brown 1997). In what follows I shall first give an outline of the earliest extensively documented singing community in the Anglo-Scottish ballad tradition, and then present a detailed analysis of two versions of the same ballad story (“The Cruel Mother”) taken down on the same day in 1825 from two singers from the same Scottish village. The fact that Motherwell’s material includes alternative performances of the same ballad story from the same area allows us to get one of the earliest glimpses into ballads as a living oral tradition. We may assess at close hand the degree of variability and multiformity that is characteristic of texts in oral tradition (Foley 1998:5), and thus gain an appreciation of the ballads as a living cultural phenomenon. The two versions of “The Cruel Mother” in question were recorded in the village of Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, which was the most fertile hunting ground for William Motherwell, who paid about ten visits to that area spread over eight months in 1825 and 1826 (see also Brown 1996 and McCarthy 1987). There is no indisputable proof that Motherwell, in fact, undertook all the collecting trips himself; in the preface to his Minstrelsy, Ancient and Modern (1827) Motherwell acknowledges the assistance of “my friend Dr. Andrew Crawfurd of Lochwinnoch, Mr. Robert Allan of Kilbarchan, and Mr. Peter Buchan of Peterhead, as having rendered me most essential help in procuring copies of ballads not hitherto printed, and different sets of others already edited” (civ). This acknowledgement is the only reference to Robert Allan, poet of Kilbarchan, and we can only speculate as to his exact role in the fieldwork. We know that it was Andrew Crawfurd who—on Motherwell’s behalf—collected most of the ballads taken down from Mrs. Storie of Lochwinnoch (Lyle 1975:xvii-xxiv). Motherwell’s entry in the Notebook: “To expenses in sundry trips to Kilbarchan in quest of old ditties” might refer to his visiting only Robert Allan; but the notes preserved in the Notebook concerning August 24, 1825, demonstrate that Motherwell did some active fieldwork in Kilbarchan. In all William Motherwell collected 48 complete ballad texts from this village, which constitutes a unique corpus of popular oral tradition. Motherwell’s contribution to ballad scholarship in general is well-documented by McCarthey (1987 and 1990) and Brown (2001), among others, but in order to place the two texts in their proper, immediate context I shall give a detailed account of how he came to acquire his ballads from Kilbarchan. Motherwell was the first ballad editor to pay consistent heed to local and contemporary traditions. He sought systematically to discover both personal and regional repertoires, and consequently he was generally at pains to attribute the collected material to named singers of specific villages and towns, even though he sometimes seemed reluctant to reproduce the names in his own published edition. It is characteristic...
 
What follows is a translation of Luka Marjanović's preface to a collection of oral epic and lyric songs that he transcribed by hand from singers in northwestern Bosnia and published as a songbook in 1864. Albert Lord described Marjanović as "one of the finest of the Croatian collectors of oral-traditional epic at the end of the last century," though Lord and others have criticized Marjanović's editorial methods. Marjanović is a significant figure in the history of oral epic studies for the reason that he collected an enormous amount of epic songs from singers in northwestern Bosnia during a decade of fieldwork in the 1880s. The collection comprises, in fact, the first major corpus of Bosnian oral-dictated epic manuscripts that we have, and predates Parry's recordings by many decades. Today Marjanović's manuscript collection is kept in the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Zagreb, Croatia. The manuscripts were used by editors at the end of the nineteenth century to furnish material for the anthology known as Hrvatske narodne pjesme (Croatian Folk Songs), the seminal Croatian folklore anthology published in Zagreb from the late nineteenth to the first decades of the twentieth century. Volumes three and four of that anthology were devoted to Bosnian oral epic, known as "Mohammedan" epic at the time, and were based on the Marjanović collection, though it cannot be said that the two volumes present even a fraction of the material contained within the manuscript corpus itself. Until Marjanović's work in the 1880s, the Bosnian Moslem tradition had never been systematically collected. Kosta Hörmann, an Austrian administrator working in Austrian-occupied Sarajevo in the early 1880s, did indeed publish in 1888-89 the Bosnian songs that he had collected, though the amount gathered by him (and his transcribers) cannot be said to equal Marjanović's contribution. As for Marjanović, in the period of his work for the Hrvatske narodne pjesme collection project, it is worth pointing out the number of verses that his team did manage to write down. The results were staggering, by any standards: he and his amanuenses transcribed over 255,000 lines of oral epic between 1880 and 1888. The Marjanović cohort also accomplished a feat that the Parry team did not attempt, namely, the transcription of the entire repertoires of two of the best Bosnian singers of the day, Mehmed Kolak-Kolaković and Salko Vojniković-Pezić. Each of the two singers performed more than sixty epics for Marjanović and his assistants, and both were mentioned by other singers belonging to the next generation interviewed in the same locale of Bihać and the surrounding area by Parry in 1934. Marjanović's collecting activities for the Hrvatske narodne pjesme anthology were organized and subsidized by the Croatian cultural organization Matica Hrvatska, an institution founded in the 1830s by Ljudevit Gaj during the heyday of South Slavic nationalism. At the time of the Matica's founding, the pan-Slavic movement in Croatia was known as "Illyrianism," a movement that strove, in response to Vuk Karadžić's work as well as to political aspirations ascendant at the time, to build unity among speakers of all of the South Slavic languages. Marjanović accompanied the third and fourth volumes of the ten-volume anthology with an informative and colorful introduction that discusses, among other things, the laborious process of oral dictation and the obstacles facing the collection of such voluminous material. His introduction remains one of the best accounts that we have of collecting and transcribing oral epics in nineteenth-century Bosnia, and it is an unfortunate fact that the document has never been translated into any language. Matija Murko praised Marjanović's introduction, first at a meeting in Berlin in 1908 and later in his outstanding Tragom srpsko-hrvatske narodne epike: Putovanja u godinama 1930-32 (On the Track of Serbo-Croatian Folk Epic: Travels During the Years 1930-32) for the attention to detail paid by Marjanović to describing the collection process as well as for his insistence on undermining romantic notions of oral epic production and transmission. What the reader will find in my translation presented below, however, is a report written by Marjanović describing his earliest...
 
In his 1997 Nobel Prize lecture, Contra jogulatores obliquentes, Italian dramatist Dario Fo makes an oblique reference to a famous medieval Ottoman "jester." 1 The "jester" is not mentioned by name but rather in the context of the murder of 35 artists and writers in July 1993 when religious bigots set alight the Madımak Hotel in the eastern Turkish city of Sivas. 2 Those killed were there to participate in the Pir Sultan Abdal etkinlikleri (festivities). 3 The "jester" Fo refers to is the eponymous identity in whose memory the festival is held, the Alevi dervish, poet, rebel, and martyr Pir Sultan Abdal. Fo's reference to the Sivas massacre was a significant statement about this incident in an international forum; but it also demonstrates the misunderstanding of the persona of Pir Sultan Abdal when refracted through time, language, and the chasm that beckons when peering askance into the opaqueness of an esoteric culture. Pir Sultan Abdal's persona, as perceived and expressed by contemporary intellectuals and artists, was fundamental to the Sivas events, 4 but Fo's commendable reference gives no sense of this potent and complex persona. Indeed it even distorts and trivializes it. Pir Sultan Abdal dominates the Turkish Alevi-Bektaşi oral lyric tradition in his influence through text and persona and is counted as one of the seven great bards, the yedi ulu ozan, of Oral Tradition, 26/1 (2011): 191-220 1 Fo uses the term giullare, meaning a jester, buffoon, or more generally minstrel, but not poet or bard, which would be more accurate though less in keeping with the theme of his Nobel Prize speech. In the official English version of the lecture, "jester" is used (Fo 1997). 2 The number of victims of the Sivas event is variously given as 33, 35, and 37. Alevis generally acknowledge the murder of 33 canlar or "Alevi souls" and also acknowledge two hotel employees who died in the Madımak Hotel. At the memorial erected in the village of Banaz, the 33 are named and the two employees are acknowledged but not named. The remaining two victims making up the 37 died outside the hotel.
 
Recent studies in the fields of orality and oral performance reveal that the recognition of oral features within texts can clarify vexing issues of interpretation and lead the interpreter to a more complete understanding of authorial intent.1 Specifically with regard to ancient authors and hearers, sound played a very strategic role in conveying meaning. Not having the luxury or ability2 to reread sections of texts to determine meaning semantically, ancient auditors relied upon oral cues such as repetition and word placement to convey meaning.3 Ancient hearers actively listened to compositions orally declaimed. Thus, John Foley remarks (1991:59), “the ‘reader’ of an oral traditional ‘text’ is more a participant actively involved in making the work than an analyst interested only in plumbing the depths of a textual artifact.”4 In Sound Mapping the New Testament (2009), Margaret Lee and Bernard Brandon Scott5 historically trace and discuss in lengthy detail the role sound played in ancient compositions. They comment that an ancient manuscript’s primary function was to “capture and record a linear stream of sound” (70) and cite, for example, the ancient Greek teacher of rhetoric Longinus (Subl. 39.3) reporting that a particular first-century CE author described his composition as a “kind of melody in words” (119). With the invention of the phonetic alphabet, the Greeks made possible the reproduction of sound in script, and they recorded sounds employing a style called scriptio continua, uninterrupted writing.6 While the lack of clearly delineated words handicaps modern readers, by orally declaiming these compositions, ancients allowed the sounds to distinguish the words or lexemes for them. Ancient authors employed elements such as arrangement and sound signals within their compositions to convey meaning, elements often lacking in modern compositions intended for silent readers (80). They created their compositions with their auditory reception in mind at every level of construction and even revised their works to improve upon their sound quality (121). These compositions were dynamic in that they came to life with each new oral performance. Authors of New Testament texts composed with oral reception in mind, but so too did most if not all authors of the ancient and Hellenistic periods (80). To aid modern interpreters in recovering the sound signals recorded in ancient compositions, Lee and Scott developed an analytical tool called a “sound map.”7 The tool enables modern interpreters to visualize sound patterns ancient authors would have left behind. As they explain it, a sound map is “a visual display that exhibits a literary composition’s organization by highlighting its acoustic features and in doing so depicts aspects of a composition’s sounded character in preparation for analysis” (2009:168). In Sound Mapping Lee and Scott guide modern interpreters through the entire process of map creation and analysis by means of sound features (135–95). The creation process begins by defining a particular compositional unit. Grammar is often an aid in delineating these units, as elements such as a change in verbal aspect or in person or number signal unit breaks. The next step entails the division of the unit into individual components called cola (breath units). Once defined, cola can later be recombined either “paratactically” or through “grammatical subordination” into periods (169–75). With the arrangement into cola and periods made, elements such as repetitive and beginning and ending sounds become apparent and the analysis process can begin. The lengthy second half of Sound Mapping consists of examples of the creation and analysis of six sound maps; their detailed sample maps assist the modern novice in his or her own employment of sound maps for analysis (199–384). By relying upon the insights of orality studies on the role sound plays in conveying meaning and upon the sound mapping tool developed by Lee and Scott in particular, I will here demonstrate how ancient auditors would likely have heard a structural unit in Paul’s letter to the Romans (4:9–12). My aim in using the sound mapping tool is to resolve a long-standing interpretive problem that concerns the identity of the ethnic group involved in the last phrase or colon of Rom 4:12. I will begin with an explanation...
 
The highly standardized oral narrative about Sunjata, nowadays known as the Sunjata Epic, has been governing society since—at least—the fourteenth century when Arab travel writer Ibn Battuta on a trip along the Niger River reported a Sunjata tradition. This epic tells about the foundation of society—called “Mali” or “Mande”—and expresses values that go beyond the borders of countries: it explains the relationships among clans. It also prescribes how, based on patronymics and clan-related praise songs, every person should behave in public. The epic is also now much esteemed as Mali and Guinea’s medieval history and as a national and supranational charter, maintaining prominence both in the mass media and in educational programs (cf. Bulman 2004; Adejunmobi 2011). The name “Mali” itself, which in 1960 became the official designation for the territory, is definitely the most striking example of this heightened status of the Sunjata Epic.2 Several villages in Mali and Guinea have families living there that have much prestige because of their knowledge of the Sunjata Epic. In Mali, the Diabate family from Kela are among the most authoritative interpreters of the Sunjata Epic (cf. Austen 1999; Jansen 2001). I use the case presented in this article—about a Sunjata Epic recording in Kela and the discussions of ownership that the recording raised—to argue that researchers whose work deals with such an intangible heritage may have to reposition themselves. They must work from a radically different perspective than the one behind the usual discourse, which is based on concepts of permission/approval, individual author rights, and informed consent. A new attitude, based on the idea of “copy debts,” may meet the local deep concerns and unexpected claims that underlie a prestigious and intangible heritage. It is the property rights of this intangible heritage that form the main focus of this article. Any attempt to publish an oral tradition is a political statement in line with supporting an open society and an agenda of web democracy. One may even argue that researchers, in their academic attempt to maximize access to oral traditions and in their professional search and fascination for optimal recording and documentation technologies, are tempted to practice a “WikiLeaks mentality” by making accessible as much data as possible. However, the approach of researchers differs from WikiLeaks practices in the fact that researchers are concerned with the rights of their sources. The accountability of researchers in their desire to combine web democracy with a concern for local population groups will therefore be a central concern throughout this article, and the present-day concern for intellectual property rights provides its context. These rights are conceptualized in terms of copyrights and author rights (droits d’auteur). UNESCO’s program for Masterpieces of Oral Intangible Heritage of Humanity has definitely increased the focus on these rights and has institutionalized them. Unfortunately, UNESCO has institutionalized these rights in a primarily legalistic way, thus conceptualizing copyrights primarily from a written text perspective that prioritizes national copyright laws along with the idea that a group is, legally, a collection of individuals.3 I will argue here that it may be problematic and even undesirable for a fieldworker, who is closely related to the performers and the recording of the oral traditions, to follow UNESCO’s ideas and procedures for establishing property rights. My case thus illustrates the limits, and even the shortcomings, of UNESCO’s program of Masterpieces and the copyrights/droits d’auteur that it implies. Based on a representative case study of an epic text recorded in 2007 in Mali, this article calls for a methodological discussion: what does one do when terms of ownership are intrinsically impossible to conceptualize in a legal framework? First of all, I will describe the social tension created by my recording. Subsequently, I will describe the conceptual framework that I developed to deal with this tension in a culturally appropriate way. In this article I suggest that determining ownership in terms of copyrights easily runs the risk of imposing a Western political standard. As an alternative, I have explored a cultural framework, based on a permanent dialogue, in which the performing group determines the terms and central values...
 
In 2008, on my fifth visit to Northern Uganda, I was staying with Nyero’s family in Padibe Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camp, in what is now Lamwo district. At that time, the cease-fire of the previous year and a half had changed things considerably. People all over Acoliland (Northern Uganda) had begun to return to their villages after a decade of forced displacement into squalid camps, where inhumane conditions killed—according to one study—in excess of about 1,000 individuals per week (UMH 2005). Like much of the 90% of the population who had been forcibly displaced, Nyero’s family was planning to return to their “traditional” village at the end of the year. Finally, land was being cleared, seed sown, water wells checked, gardens planted, grass cut, and huts built. Padibe Internally Displaced Person’s Camp, Northern Uganda. January 2007. Unless otherwise indicated, all photos are by the author. Beatrice and Kilama start to clear land for farming after living in Padibe IDP camp for 5 years. July 2008. At the same time, however, Acoli men, women, children, youths, families, and villages struggled to deal with the past two decades of war between President Museveni’s Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group. Forced displacement, confinement, poverty, and social torture (Dolan 2009) by the Government of Uganda, together with brutal abductions and terrorization by the LRA, squeezed the population between the two sides. Children and youths who grew up only in the congested, squalid conditions of the camp were reintroduced to “normal” village life primarily based on subsistence agriculture. Youths who escaped from the LRA struggled to reintegrate into their families and villages. Extended families tried to cope with the brutal effects of the decades of violence and internment, as well as the humiliation of their forced dependence on humanitarian aid. Conflict over land was common, and food was not yet plentiful. Tens of thousands of youths were, and still are, missing with their whereabouts unknown. Tens of thousands of deaths have not been properly mourned. Bones have not been buried. Ghosts roam free. While relieved from the threat of armed violence (from both rebels and the Ugandan military) and the confinement, hunger, and disease of the IDP camps, some of the rural youths I spoke with in Padibe expressed anxiety about their disconnection from tekwaro (culture/tradition/history). Their angst was shared by many of the rural adults and elders who feared that youths who had grown up only in the IDP camps or with the LRA did not know, or were “out of,” tekwaro. It was intriguing and somewhat perplexing to me that rural elders, adults, and youths repeatedly used the concept of youths’ disconnection from, or ignorance of, tekwaro to communicate their post-conflict reconstruction and/or reconciliation concerns. Although scholars have written about how contemporary intrastate conflict in Africa tends to overturn generational structures (Richards 1996; Hoffman 2003; Cheney 2007; Finnström 2008; Honwana 2005), there has been little research on how the overturned structure affects the intergenerational transmission of oral tradition, and what impact that effect itself has on post-conflict processes of social reconstruction, reconciliation, and social repair. Interested in the community’s concerns about tekwaro in this post-conflict context, and heeding calls from Baines (2010) and Finnström (2010) to study the social processes that order morality and relations in post-conflict Northern Uganda, I therefore returned to live with Nyero’s family in their rural village of Pabwoc for the better part of 2012 as part of my dissertation fieldwork. Fundamental to my understanding of what is happening in Pabwoc today—and other places in Acoliland as well—are Okot p’Bitek’s academic works that explore how Acoli oral tradition shapes moral agents’ formations and understandings of their place in the universe (p’Bitek 1962, 1963, 1973, 1986). He views oral tradition as a form of social action that accounts for how people act and make meaning in the world, and he emphasizes the performative, intersubjective processes involved in the transmission and performance of cultural knowledge. According to...
 
In the field of folklore, the study of “oral tradition” cannot be an either/or proposition. Rather, the responsible study of oral tradition recognizes the interdependence of both of these concepts: while “oral” clearly modifies “tradition,” there is an equally important coloring of “oral” by “tradition.” “Oral” indicates both speech and reception, and implies face-to-face interaction. With its coloration by “tradition,” “oral” also indicates a degree of informality. It does not refer to scripted expression, but rather unscripted expression, marked by improvisation and characterized by variation. Although it is tempting to use Woody Allen’s desultory characterization of “tradition” as “the illusion of permanence” (1997), it is more worthwhile to view tradition as process—a clear expression on the part of tradition participants of a “will to permanence.” Tradition exists wherever the members of a group intend, either explicitly or implicitly, for their oral expression(s) to persist. This acknowledgement of a “will to permanence” (rather than alleged permanence or age) shifts the focus onto the emergent nature of oral tradition in performance, and aligns well with significant advances in oral tradition studies (Lord 1960; Hymes 1975; Bauman 1977). There are several key research areas that need to be explored in the coming years. One of the great advantages presaged by the information technology boom is an ever-increasing access to properly encoded digital archives and texts. Working in a digitized realm allows one to answer broad questions concerning such things as vocabulary, language usage, and repetition in a manner far more sophisticated than before. One can more fully engage a type of ethnophilology in which lost voices hidden in the archive or in early texts can be recovered, and one can ask questions that seemed impossible to answer or even pursue before. These textual and archival tools have great promise: they will help us identify the contours of oral tradition in older texts, they will help us discern previously unrecognized patterns in the archives, and they will help us shape new research questions. The digital archive will also move us away from a
 
Poetic invective traditions have developed across many cultures throughout history. This study examines Older Scots flyting, a little known instance of medieval poetic invective. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines this tradition as “a kind of contest practised by the Scottish poets of the sixteenth century, in which two persons assailed each other alternately with tirades of abusive verse.” Poetic flyting among the Scottish makars, or poets, seems to have been inspired by a broader culture of flyting in Scottish society of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Todd 2002:236). But very few formal poetic flyting texts have survived, and since the late eighteenth century scholars have been baffled by this tradition (Lord Hailes 1770:274; MacKay 1893:cxiv; Scott 1966:175). The extinct tradition of Scottish flyting bears a striking resemblance to American Hip Hop battle rap, a modern day manifestation of poetic invective that developed in the late 1970s among African-American youths in New York City.Adam Bradley (2009) describes this poetic phenomenon as “a verbal cutting contest that prizes wit and wordplay above all else” (177). By comparing Older Scots flyting with Hip Hop battle rap we hope to recover something of the tone and purpose of the medieval tradition, namely, that the poets who engaged in these public invectives were actually amicable rivals competing for increased court status and wealth. Foley (2002:61-62) observes that the act of textualizing oral poetry is intrinsically antithetical. The scholar of flyting, who depends solely on written text, must come to terms with the permanently distant and disjointed context of the flyting texts (45-50, 63-64). In order to recover some of this context, we will demonstrate the thematic and stylistic parallels shared by flyting and battle rap and use this relationship to explore further the lost flyting performances. By examining live recordings and interviews we have found that the emcees discussed here have competed in these battles for reasons at times surprising: all express respect for their opponents and attest to the fact that their battles were meant to determine linguistic and artistic supremacy. We argue that flyting shares this essentially constructive purpose with battle rap. In a recent historical study Todd (2002) sets kirk session records of public flyting in relation to the wider context of Protestant culture in Early Modern Scotland. Flyting seems to have transcended gender and social bounds: cases are recorded from all levels of society, between those of different social ranks, and between the sexes (232-36). Todd makes the plausible assertion that flyting was not a subversive practice—rather it served as a formalized mode of initiating public involvement in the resolution of conflict (235-37). Much like the flytings composed by the Scottish makars, public flytings at the local level were highly formulaic, and insults tended to be thrown in pairs or triads, to use alliteration, to depend on expanding themes, and respondents generally mirrored insults thrown by the first participant in slightly altered language (237-41). Kirk session records of this kind only appear after the Reformation of 1560, but the existence of early sixteenth-century poetic flyting suggests that public flyting was a common practice in Scotland as early as the late fifteenth century. Priscilla Bawcutt’s 1983 paper, “The Art of Flyting,” was the first modern study exclusively focused on the tradition of flyting. Prior to this, discussion of flyting was largely confined to the notes of critical editions. Flyting has not always been deemed obscure and too rude for print: the tradition remained popular until the eighteenth century. But Lord Hailes voiced deep contempt for this kind of poetry in his Ancient Scottish Poems (1770) and this seems to have set the tone thereafter, with flyting poems most often either ignored or incurring further criticism (274). Although early twentieth-century poets such as W. H. Auden and T. S. Eliot recognized the beauty of flyting (Bawcutt 1992:221-22), their interest was purely aesthetic admiration; and in 1966 Tom Scott observed that flyting produced “the most repellent poem known to me in any language” (175). Rap has fared better than flyting, although it has only recently become the subject of literary criticism. Like flyting, its...
 
Why would any verbal artists bother to strongly identify themselves as writers when their own works circulate exclusively in a performative mode? Why would they bother to identify with writing in settings where literacy levels are low, traditional orality remains widespread, and electronically mediated forms of orality are fairly accessible? In short, what kind of significance could writing have for composers of creative texts as electronically mediated performance becomes more widespread? These are the questions that I wish to address in this article. As is well known, Walter Ong speculated on a possible re-oralization of communication, or what he termed a "secondary orality" among literates sustained by electronic technologies. Since then, the point has been argued even more forcefully by George Landow (1997) and others with reference to computer-mediated communication. Observers like Jan Fernback (2003), for example, have highlighted particular features of digitally mediated communication such as instantaneity and interactivity that relate to orality. Scholars of African cinema like Frank Ukadike (1993), as well as Keyan Tomaselli and Maureen Eke (1993), have long foregrounded the ways in which African film directors appropriated strategies associated with forms of orality. For somewhat different purposes, Sheila Nayar in her studies of Indian cinema (2004) likewise emphasizes the debt that textual formatting and organization in electronic media such as film owe to traditional forms of orality. Here I will not be further pursuing this line of inquiry, which consists of uncovering how orality intervenes in electronically and often digitally mediated textuality. Rather, my intentions are to investigate what kind of significance writing might have for verbal artists whose creative texts reach the wider public only through digitally mediated or live performance. In parts of the world where the dissemination of printed texts has been limited historically for a variety of reasons, the increasing access to digital media has made performance of texts both more cost-effective and "modern." As a consequence, we are seeing many more literate verbal artists in these contexts develop reputations as performers rather than as writers, hence my title: the revenge of the spoken word. However, this does not necessarily mean that many such verbal artists disregard the contribution of writing to textual production or cease to identify themselves as writers. To the contrary, a number of these figures foreground writing in their self-definition as verbal artists. My goal in this essay is to consider several of the reasons that some verbal artists in this situation prefer to highlight their activity as writers rather than their role as performers despite the fact that they create textual genres that circulate almost entirely through performance with almost no opportunities for print publication. The specific instances of live and digitally mediated verbal arts performance to be considered here are drawn from the West African country of Mali. Over time, Mali's oral traditions, especially those of the Mande cultural area, have attracted considerable scholarly attention. Indeed, a certain type of traditional verbal artist associated with Malian culture, known in the Mande languages as jeli or jali and often described as the griot in European-language texts, has become the iconic figure of African orality, both within scholarly circles and outside of them. My intention, however, is not to revisit the well researched oral traditions of Mali but instead to explore perceptions about newer verbal performance practices that are either digitally mediated or influenced by increased access to digital media. Several of these instances amount to a new type of orality, and often, in fact, to writing for performance. Scholars like Eric Charry (2000), Mamadou Diawara (1997, 1998), Lucy Durán (1995), Paulla Ebron (2002), Thomas Hale (1998), Robert Newton (1999), and Dorothea Schulz (2001b) among others, have examined the impact of electronic media on traditional Mande orality and on the Malian public sphere as a whole. My focus on what such media might mean for creative writing and writers, at a time when electronically mediated performance has become even more accessible, sets the present study apart from theirs. Furthermore, among the different types of electronic media available in Mali, I am especially interested in the impact of digital media because they more frequently enable interested verbal artists to circumvent problems...
 
The Ainu, the indigenous people in Japan, have historically had their own language, the Ainu language, and a rich repertoire of oral literature. However, as a result of assimilation policy since the late nineteenth century, most of the Ainu in contemporary Japan are Japanese speakers and do not use their ancestral language. Thus Ainu oral literature now exists in the form of written texts or audio recordings. Most of these texts have been recorded by Japanese scholars or Ainu practitioners since the early twentieth century. They are fixed as texts but still show us many different versions of the same tales, told by many different informants until recently in real oral tradition. In this article, I illustrate how a variety of versions of Ainu oral literature can be read, and what the relationships are between one version and the others. To consider these topics, the idea of traditional referentiality that John Miles Foley (1991) has proposed is quite helpful: each story or performance has an immanent context, which storytellers and audiences share. Traditional phraseology, motifs, or narrative patterns ubiquitous in a tradition summon other stories or performances, and in doing so these cues help the audience to access the implicit whole, "ever-immanent tradition." On the other hand, the strategies of reference are diverse, depending on the culture. In Ainu oral tradition, for instance, genre-dependency remains an open question, as will be discussed later. To read the Ainu oral tradition in the context of its traditional referentiality, and among many themes appearing in Ainu oral literature, I focus on uymam, the trade between the Ainu and the Wajin, ethnic Japanese. Although Ainu oral tradition does not indicate the exact era of what happens in tales, according to historical discourse it is said that trade between the Ainu and the Wajin continued from the fourteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. Most of the stories mentioned in this article were recorded in the twentieth century, when the public language of the Ainu had converted to Japanese and trade was not conducted in everyday life. Therefore, in the time of textualizing, Ainu oral literature was a sort of medium through which the modern Ainu got to know what the past was like. In short, it was their history (Sakata 2005). So at the end of this article I will mention their historical consciousness, which can be seen in their oral literature. This consciousness is different from history as modern scholarship, however. It amounts to their mode of configuring and transmitting the past. Traditional territories of the Ainu. Redrawn from the map in Ainu Minzoku Hakubutsukan (1999:3). The Ainu oral literature discussed in this article consists of the traditions of the Hokkaido Ainu. While they used to live in the region consisting of present-day southern Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, Hokkaido, and Aomori prefecture (northern Honshu) (see the map above), they now live mostly in Hokkaido as a result of an intricate historical process. These Ainu in the four areas above had different dialects, cultures, customs, and histories. However, records of traditions we can access today are chiefly attributed to the Hokkaido Ainu and the Sakhalin Ainu. Although Ainu oral tradition includes all aspects of verbal art and activity in Ainu life and culture in the days before they were annexed to Japan in the late nineteenth century, prominent genres include the epic (yukar or sakorpe), the myth (kamuy yukar), and the folktale (uwepeker or tuytak). These categories are distinguished mainly by their form. Both the epic and the myth consist of verse sung to melodies, distinguished by the latter having refrains constantly repeated before every verse. On the other hand, the folktale is prose. It is thought that these modes of performance correlate more or less in terms of their contents. The epic consists of stories of heroes who are human beings but also have supernatural power, and the focus is war against enemies. The myth consists of tales of gods (kamuy). In Ainu cosmology, kamuy are non-human species, including natural phenomena, living creatures, plants, and so on that surround and affect in many ways the life experiences of...
 
In this essay I compare and contrast two small-scale language archives and discuss their relevance for oral tradition research. The first of these is Kaipuleohone, the University of Hawai‘i Digital Ethnographic Archive (KUHDEA). KUHDEA is administered by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) and curated by the UHM library in an institutional DSpace repository under the purview of the UHM library. The second archive presented here is called C’ek’aedi Hwnax (C’H), which serves the Ahtna Alaska Native community in and around the Copper River region of south central Alaska. C’H is fully administered by the Ahtna community itself via a non-profit organization known as the Ahtna Heritage Foundation (AHF). These two archives have a number of features in common. They could both be called “niche” archives, in that they are both rather small in size, have a well-defined collection scope, and focus on recordings of languages—especially endangered languages—as used within many different genres. Additionally, they are both primarily digital archives, providing for the digitization of older analog materials while also accepting new, born-digital audio and video. They both strive to follow current best-practice recommendations for digital audio formats, storage, and metadata collection. They are both participating members of the Open Language Archives Community (OLAC) and they both share metadata publicly via the OLAC search engine. Finally, they were both conceived out of the growing interest over the last two decades in endangered language documentation and preservation, on the one hand, and the increased use of digital infrastructure to serve the needs of social science and the humanities, including linguistics, on the other. KUHDEA and C’H are also quite different in a number of ways. C’H has a physical facility that is meant to be a gathering place where the Ahtna community can meet to share cultural activities and knowledge; the digital archive is just one part of the larger function of C’H and the AHF. KUHDEA, on the other hand, exists primarily as a virtual entity, with users accessing recordings and interacting with the director online, often from overseas locations. The intended audience for the two archives is different as well: KUHDEA primarily serves an academic audience, while the main audience for C’H is the Ahtna community, though both archives are welcoming to users from academia, the speaker community, and the general public. In addition, the two archives differ in their policies for allowing access to materials: while both archives allow the depositor to stipulate how freely available materials are, KUHDEA allows fairly liberal access online to open materials, while C’H users are intended to visit the physical facility to listen to recordings, and copies are distributed on a much more restricted basis. KUHDEA was founded in 2008 as a response to two needs: first, the growing interest in new technologies to assist humanities researchers in discovering and accessing extant research, and second, a need to provide long-term care for language documentation materials collected by researchers at UHM. The first depositors to KUHDEA were long-time UHM linguistics professors and field linguists with a history of fieldwork in the Pacific, including Robert Blust, Derek Bickerton, and Al Schütz. The Department of Linguistics has a five-decade reputation for field-based language work in the Pacific and Asia, and over the last half-century UHM scholars had throughout their careers collected analog recordings on reel-to-reel and cassette. Prior to the digital revolution there was no inexpensive, local, and readily available facility for digitizing and storing the raw data upon which decades of published language descriptions and linguistic analyses had been based. Thus the founding director, Nick Thieberger, prioritized the digitization of these deteriorating materials and purchased for the archive a suite of digitization equipment including an analog-to-digital converter, a dual cassette deck, a turntable, DAT and minidisk players, a restored reel-to-reel player, monitoring headphones, and a desktop computer with audio-editing software. Thieberger is also a project manager at the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (http://paradisec.org.au...
 
One of the pioneering scholars in the field of multidisciplinary cultural and linguistic studies of the Altai region was the orientalist Wilhelm Radlov (1837-1918), founder of the first International Association for the Exploration of Central Asia (1899), director of the Asian Museum in St. Petersburg, and a prominent collector and publisher of folklore texts. Radlov was already writing down Altai heroic songs in his youth during the 1860s, and large samples of this material, including ten epic texts (some of them consisting of short fragments), were published in St. Petersburg. 1 In the Upper Altai region one singing style called Kai (Qaï) is of special interest. Some singers using this peculiar technique of laryngeal epic singing have preserved archaic epic traditions up to the present day. According to the ethnographer and composer A. V. Anohin (1869-1931), the upper Altai people sing heroic epics using a tonality that resembles the buzzing of a flying beetle. 2 This technique of performing the epics has its roots in the same tradition as partial tone or "throat" singing. Epic singers in the Altai region use a singing style in which the words are clearly differentiated, but the timbre is very close to that of the two-voiced, wordless singing style of that region. In addition to Radlov and Anohin, the first collectors of Altaic epics include A. Kala™ev, who as a student of St. Petersburg University made a research trip to the southern part of the Russian Altai, the Russian missionary V. I. Verbickij (1827-90), and the scholar and explorer G. N. Potanin (1836-1920). Some of the early investigators belonged to the 1 Radlov 1866. See also Kata£ev 1997:12-13. 2 See ‹ul'gin 1973:459. 216 LAURI HARVILAHTI indigenous Altaians, as for example N. Ja. Nikiforov (1874-1922), who collected epics from the singer ¤olty£ Kuranakov. The Altai material collected by him has been lost, but Potanin published the material in Russian translation in 1915. Among the most important Altai scholars in the field of epic studies was the poet P. V. Ku™ijak (1897-1943). Ku™ijak himself was able to perform epics he had heard from his grandfather ‹onkor ‹unekov. His most important publications include the epic texts written down from the great epic singer N. U. Ulaga£ev (1861-1946). Other scholars who have contributed significantly to the study of Altai epics include the Turkologist N. A. Baskakov (1905-96), the specialist on Altai shamanism A. P. Potapov (1905-), and the renowned folklorist V. M. ›irmunskij. 3 In 1963 the researcher and collector of Altai epics S. S. Surazakov (1925-1980) acoustically recorded one of the best known of the Altai heroic songs, Maadai-Kara, performed by Aleksej Grigorevi™ Kalkin in the Institute of Pedagogy (Gorno-Altajsk). This version contains 7,738 verses, and it was published in 1973 in bilingual format in Altaic and Russian by the Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in the series Èpos narodov SSSR, "The Epics of the Peoples of the Soviet Union." Surazakov was also the founder of the series Altaj Baatyrlar, "Altai Heroes." The 12 volumes published so far include more than 80 epic texts, among them 30 valuable texts from A. G. Kalkin and N. U. Ulaga£ev.
 
Dedicated to Arzhan Mikhailovich Közörökov (1978–2012) The snow-capped Altai Mountain range runs from southern Siberia in the Russian Federation, southwards through West Mongolia, eastern Kazakhstan, and the Xinjiang autonomous region of Northwest China, before finally coming to rest in Southwest Mongolia. This essay is based on fieldwork undertaken in 2010 in that part of the Altai Mountains that in 1990 became the Republic of Altai, a unit of the Russian Federation.1 The Altaians, known previously as Kalmyks and Oirots, engage in a complex of spiritual beliefs and practices known locally as Ak Jang (“White Way”)2 and in academic literature as Burkhanism. Whether this movement was messianic, nationalist, or spiritual and whether it was a continuation of indigenous beliefs and practices or a syncretic mixture of local beliefs (Altai Jang), Buddhism, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, and Orthodox Christianity have been argued elsewhere (Krader 1956; Znamenski 1999; Vinogradov 2003; Halemba 2006; Yamaeva 2010a). Altaians argue that Ak Jang was the established religion during the reign of the seventeenth-century Jungarian prince, Oirot Khan, and that it has its roots in Tengrism,3 a Turko-Mongol religious system that shares some of the same pantheon. From Pegg’s experience, Ak Jang appears to draw elements from a number of Turko-Mongol belief systems, including animism, Shamanism, Tengrism, and Buddhism. However, these elements are transformed in Ak Jang practice. For instance, Üch Kurbustan (“Three Kurbustan”), a transformation of Khormusta (Sogdian Ahura Mazda) and widely recognized in Inner Asia by the thirteenth century,4 has become the main Burkhan––Ulu Byrkan––and all spiritual phenomena of the Upper and Middle domains are believed to be its emanations or “burkhans.” This is quite different from the rest of Inner Asia, where “burkhan” refers to “Buddha” or “Buddhist deity” (Shinzhina 2004:140).5 Similarly, Yamaeva (2002) suggests that Scythians in Altai during the Pazyryk (eighth through sixth centuries BCE) and post-Pazyryk (fifth through third centuries BCE) periods included Kurbustan as part of a Zoroastrian spiritual complex that embraced worship of fire, thunder and lightning, and the “Blue Sky” (Kök Tengeri) (2002:3) but in Ak Jang has additional characteristics (see §3.2 below). Ak Jang practitioners acknowledge the Upper, Middle, and Lower levels of the shamanic universe but do not have dealings with Erlik, Master of the Underworld, or any of his spirits. For this reason, Ak Jang has been contrasted with shamanism (“Kara Jang,” [“Black Way”]). Usually characterized by its concentration on spirit-beings of the Upper domains, Ak Jang also gives major importance to the “spirits of place” (ee, pl. eeler)6 in the Middle Domain (Earth). In addition, it elevates figures from Altaian heroic oral epics and tales into its pantheon, reveres Altaian epic-tellers, and, as we shall see below, in contemporary practice sometimes adopts heroic epic performance modes into its rituals. Ak Jang arose as a revitalization movement among nomadic southern Altaians7 who had struggled with Russian agricultural colonization, land dispossession, and loss of traditional Altaian leaders during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The trigger was the vision of a White Rider, later to be called Ak Byrkan (“White Burkhan”), experienced in 1904 by a 12-year-old girl, Chugul Sorok, while herding. The rider instructed Altaians to cast off foreign Russian and Christian influences and to await the imminent arrival of Oirot Khan (Danilin 1993 [1932]: 86). Two annual rituals held in hidden open-air mountain temples (küree)8 are central to Ak Jang. Jazhyl Bür (“Green Leaves”) is held in spring when “Altai’s ear opens” and the mountains’ spirit-owners awaken (Chachiyakova 2010)—an event heralded by the first “sound of the sky,” thunder (Chechaeva 2010). Sary Bür (”Yellow Leaves”) is held in autumn when requests for “blessing-fortune” (alkysh-byian)9 are made for the approaching difficult winter before “Altai’s ear closes” and the mountains’ spirit-owners sleep. These rituals are referred to as mürgüül,10 a term which in its broad sense embraces the ritual performance practices described below and in its narrow sense refers to the way the body is bowed to show respect to...
 
I first attended the village goddess Gangamma’s jatara (“annual festival”) in the South Indian pilgrimage town of Tirupati in 1992, knowing little about the jatara except press reports that emphasized the custom of male participants taking female guising. Over the intervening years I have attended the jatara four times, spent nine months living in Tirupati conducting research about Gangamma traditions, and have returned for numerous shorter visits. Since my first visit, I have observed numerous changes in both Gangamma narratives and rituals that have the potential to change who the goddess is. Gangamma’s largest temple, Tatayyagunta, has been radically transformed—ritually, architecturally, and in the personnel serving the goddess. The local narrative repertoire surrounding the goddess seems to be receding from the public imagination, or even being silenced, and is unknown by many in the burgeoning jatara crowds (reported to be 500,000 in 2012) drawn from beyond the boundaries of Tirupati that Gangamma traditionally protects. These narrative and ritual changes raise questions about what each individually creates, their relationship, and what is lost or gained in the changes I have observed. What is created with the addition of Sanskritic rituals to temple service (traditionally offered to puranic deities rather than gramadevatas [“village deities”] such as Gangamma), when middle-class aesthetics have impacted architectural temple changes, and when Gangamma’s narratives recede from the public imagination? How is the goddess’ identity potentially changing with these narrative and ritual shifts? These questions bring a performative lens to older questions of the relationships between ritual and narrative, which often prioritize one over the other. Ethnographic and performance analyses of Gangamma ritual and narrative traditions show the finely tuned ways in which they are both independent and codependent and the ways in which they both reflect and create—and have the potential to change—the identity of the goddess. Gangamma jatara began as a local, very local, celebration that is typical of a wide range of jataras performed for what are known as the Seven Sister gramadevatas in Chitoor District of Andhra Pradesh. The purpose of these jataras is to invigorate the power of the goddess so that she will protect the uru (“local community”) during the vulnerable time of the hot season—when she herself is said to expand—when the uru is threatened by particular hot season-associated illnesses and drought. The power of these gramadevatas must be ugra (“excessive” or “heated”) in order to accomplish these ends. But then that ugram must be cooled or satisfied in order that the goddess not become destructive beyond these ends; this has traditionally been accomplished through the offering of bali (“animal sacrifice”). Nevertheless, even in her cooled and more “stable” state, Gangamma is typically identified as too ugra to bear or serve at home by most devotees; her needs are simply excessive. However, as will be mentioned below, there are a few ritual families and individuals who can and do bear her and enter intimate relationships with her. Some explanation of what it means for a goddess to be heated or cooled may be helpful here, before proceeding with discussions of Gangamma’s shifting narratives and rituals. Heat in Hindu discourse and ritual is associated with expansion, (sometimes excessive) presence of a deity, and both human and divine unsatisfied desire—that is, ugram. Coolness, in contrast, is associated with stability, satisfaction, desire fulfilled—shantam. Some Indian languages use the phrase literally “to cool” (Hindi: thanda karna) when referring to immersion in a body of water of a temporary clay festival image at the end of the end of festivals such as Durga Puja and Ganesha Chathurti, even if that deity or its clay form is not directly identified as ugra. Rituals that are offered to a heated, that is, present, goddess who is possessing a human body— performed to “send her on her way” (to “de-possess” the person)—may be called, in some contexts, “to cool” the goddess. Gangamma is consistently characterized as ugra, but her ugram must be ritually consolidated and built up during her jatara for her task at hand during the jatara. She expands into multiple forms outside her temple, forms that require more and more rituals...
 
The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) is a repository of primarily linguistic and anthropological data about the indigenous languages of Latin America and the Caribbean. In this article we give a brief description of the archive and its mission in Section 1, and we discuss the predecessors and precursors to AILLA in Section 2, and the importance of AILLA in Section 3. In Section 4 we highlight a few of the large and publicly accessible collections, and in Section 5 we illustrate some of the ways in which teachers, professors, researchers, and indigenous community members have used data archived at AILLA. AILLA was founded at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) in 2001 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation. Today AILLA is directed by Joel Sherzer, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, along with co-directors Anthony C. Woodbury and Patience Epps, both Professors of Linguistics; and it is managed by Susan Smythe Kung, who holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics. AILLA has no physical presentation space because it is a completely digital repository whose collections are accessible only through its website at http://www.ailla.utexas.org. As of this writing, the collection includes samples of 282 languages from 22 Latin American and Caribbean Countries. There are 16,370 audio recordings, 2,155 video recordings, 4,604 digital texts, and 4,289 images. 126 depositors from North, Central, and South America, as well as Europe have collaborated by archiving their data, the majority of which are raw, unanalyzed audio and/or video recordings. Often the raw recordings are accompanied by images, transcriptions, translations, and interlinearized morphological analyses. The collection consists of multimedia files preserved on servers managed and backed up by the University of Texas Libraries (UTL) Digital Services. The AILLA website has parallel interfaces in English and Spanish. Visitors are free to browse the catalog and read the general information pages without registering with the archive. However, if they wish to access any of the files, they must register and create a user account. This process is free, but it requires that users agree to the Conditions for Use of Archived Resources (http://www.ailla.utexas.org/site/use_conditions.html), which include, among other things, a prohibition against commercial use of the files, and an expectation that the visitor will demonstrate respect for the cultures and peoples whose languages, cultures, and work are represented in the archive. Once users have agreed to these terms, they are able to access any media file that has been archived at the public access level (level 1). Three other levels (levels 2-4) involve restricted access; these restricted-access levels allow creators or depositors of archived materials, or the communities in which these materials were collected, to control access to these data by means of passwords and time limits (that is, dates when the restricted materials will convert to public access). AILLA’s primary mission is the preservation of irreplaceable linguistic and cultural resources in and about the indigenous languages of Latin America, most of which are endangered. Most archived resources are deposited by linguists and anthropologists for whom audio and video recordings are a central part of their research methodology. Many indigenous groups, such as the Maya linguistic research organization Oxlaiuui Keej Maya’ Ajtz’iib’ (http://www.ailla.utexas.org/search/collection.html?c_id=67), have also archived the results of their investigations with AILLA. The majority of the materials in the repository are audio recordings that were originally created on media ranging from open-reel tapes to digital recorders. Analog materials are digitized either in AILLA’s lab or in the UTL Digitization Services labs. The audio and video recordings consist of a wide range of discourse genres, including conversations, many types of narratives, songs, political oratory, traditional myths, curing ceremonies, and so on. Some recordings are accompanied by transcriptions and/or translations in media ranging from scans of handwritten notebooks to time-aligned XML files. Other textual resources include dictionaries, grammars, ethnographic sketches, field notes, articles, handouts, and presentations. The collection also contains many hundreds of photographs. If it can...
 
The jyrau Jumabay Bazarov performs the Turkic Edige in Karakalpakistan, Uzbekistan (http://mednar.org/ 2012/06/17/edige-scene-from-turkic-epic/).
Awadallah Abd aj-Jalil Ali performs the Egyptian Hilali epic Abu Zayd in Aswan, Egypt (http://mednar.org/ 2012/06/13/hilali-epic-awadallah-sings-of-abu-zayd/).
Benjamin Bagby performs the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf in Helsingborg, Sweden (http://mednar.org/ 2012/06/15/beowulf-beowulf-fights-grendel/).
Benjamin Bagby performs the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf in New York (http://mednar.org/2012/02/13/ beowulf/).
We are pleased to present two open-access digital databases of video clips from performances of medieval narratives and analogous living oral storytelling traditions: Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase (http://www.nyu.edu/pmnt, [PMNT]) and Arthurian Legend in Performance (https://vimeo.com/ArthurPerform, [ALP]). While in the process of editing, along with our colleague Nancy Freeman Regalado, a book entitled Performing Medieval Narrative (Vitz et al. 2005), we came up against a challenge: to most people, including many academics, it was simply inconceivable that the narrative literature of the medieval past had been performed. The underlying thinking, at least among scholars in modern literature departments, was that such works survive as books, and that books are to be read—silently. People were of course aware of references to performance within medieval texts, but these references did not seem believable or, more precisely, such performances were not imaginable. Most people had never seen narrative works from the Middle Ages performed and had trouble understanding how they could be performed. Their primary experience with live storytelling was typically the type of bookish entertainment provided for children in public libraries and independent bookshops. Storytelling in the West has been largely infantilized in the past century, making it difficult for many people to understand how adults of any level of sophistication might in the past have enjoyed watching and listening to the performance of narrative—in other words, storytelling. To help people conceptualize ways in which narratives might have been performed in the Middle Ages, and to experiment with various new ways medieval narratives might be performed for audiences today, we began work on our website Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase. We created the pilot version of PMNT with a team from the Digital Studio of New York University Libraries, with Jennifer Vinopal as Project Manager. Launched in 2004, the website was hacked in 2011. When forced to shut down PMNT, we migrated the contents and rebuilt the site with the generous support of Vinopal and the team at NYU’s Digital Studio. Benefiting from technological advancements, the new PMNT, launched in 2012 at http://www.nyu.edu/pmnt, allows for broader and easier searching of its contents, and, unlike our original site, can be accessed from smartphones and other mobile devices. Fig 1. The home page of Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase (http://www.nyu.edu/pmnt). View full resolution PMNT currently offers over 225 video clips of performed scenes selected from medieval narratives, as well as relevant general resource tools, including a bibliography, videography, and tips for using the site in teaching. The website includes the work of a wide range of authors from the Early and High Middle Ages, but also, when relevant, from antiquity, the Renaissance, and the modern era. Many genres (allegories, ballads, epics, fables, fabliaux, hagiographies, lais, romances, satires, songs, and tales) are represented, pulling from a wealth of myths, legends, and stories (Anglo-Saxon, Arthurian, Biblical, Buddhist, Celtic, Christian, Classical, Germanic, Islamic, Jewish) as well as popular tales (of Charlemagne and Roland, Renart the Fox, Robin Hood, Tristan, and others). Oral and written traditions tend not to be discrete or autonomous—tradition is often a two-way street—and the majority of medieval “oral” works we possess today are indeed preserved in writing. Our website therefore does not focus exclusively on works from oral tradition. We emphasize medieval works that invited—and still invite—performance approaches other than silent reading. Performances represented on the site range from simple, solo storytelling to more theatrical staging by ensembles. Clips might include singing, puppets, props, sets, costumes, dance, or instrumental music—or just a single performer reciting a scene from a story. Users can view performances in a number of languages: Egyptian Arabic, Medieval Latin, Old French, Middle High German, Hebrew, Italian (Renaissance and Modern), Renaissance Croatian, Karakalpak, Norn, and Turkish, as well as English (Old, Middle, and Modern, plus Lowland Scots). We have been fortunate to involve in the project a number of international professional performers of narrative working today, including Benjamin Bagby, Katarina Livljanic, Paolo Panaro, and Linda Mare Zaerr. In addition, many clips come from the work of students...
 
The Folklore Archives are the central holdings for oral tradition research in Finland. The actual collection of folklore began in Finland in the first half of the nineteenth century with poems and charms in the Kalevala meter. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the press also participated by publishing appeals to collectors, and these calls were invariably met with great enthusiasm. Towards the end of the nineteenth century a network of collectors was established, guidelines for collection were prepared, and folklore collection was encouraged in general. At the turn of the century, the Kalevala-meter poems and charms were joined by collections of folktales, in the 1930s legends were added, and gradually all fields of agrarian folklore, proverbs and riddles, the belief tradition, and laments were included. In 1900 the archive of the Finnish Literature Society still had only approximately 200,000 items of folklore, and today the archive holds approximately four million folklore items. In 1937 the Society’s folklore collections were consolidated into a research institution known as the Folklore Archives of the Finnish Literature Society. Various organizations and educational establishments also responded and took an active interest in folklore collecting. The Folklore Archives seek to collect oral tradition, personal narratives, and memory lore in a number of different ways. Nowadays this work is primarily focused on organizing collection campaigns and fieldwork across the country. The archives also actively maintain their own respondent network. Around 30,000 people have been involved in collecting this material. Geographically the collection work focuses primarily on the cultural area of Finland and Karelia (http://www.finlit.fi/english/kra/). The collections encompass oral tradition, folk music, ethnological descriptions, and oral history/memory lore. The poems in the Kalevala-meter were collected largely thanks to the initiative of the Finnish Literature Society (established already in 1831). There are now altogether some two million lines of Kalevala-metric poetry in the archives of the Finnish Literature Society, collected primarily in the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. The typical poetic devices of Kalevala-metric poetry are as follows: the use of alliteration and assonance, the verse structure of eight syllables, the trochaic meter, and the rules of syntactic parallelism. Naturally the performers were not aware of the finer distinctions, but they did observe the basic register of Kalevala poetry: together these primary features formed a poetic culture observing a fairly uniform poetic system. This system was shared by Finnish, Karelian, and Estonian performers of oral poetry in Kalevala meter. The Society’s first secretary, Elias Lönnrot, compiled the Finnish national epic Kalevala on the basis of such collected poetry. The first edition of the Kalevala appeared in 1835, and the second and greatly enlarged edition in 1849 (see further Harvilahti 2008). An edition of documented poetic texts, Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot (SKVR), was later produced in 34 volumes in 1908-48 and 1997. This edition presents approximately 89,000 poetic texts requiring almost 27,000 pages. The Finnish Literature Society began digitalizing SKVR in 1998. The conversion of the texts into digital format by scanning and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) was assigned to an Estonian team, as Estonia already had experience with such work. All printed volumes were digitized with character-by-character equivalence to SKVR, appearing as an early major open-access corpus in XML format. The greatest advantage of digital text is naturally that it permits efficient, comprehensive searches of an entire corpus for which a database is required. XML also permits the easy transfer of data to many different applications. In its present form, the corpus has a rather basic user interface allowing searches of the texts by keywords (largely according to grammatical inflection and the sometimes inconsistent orthographic forms used in transcribing performed texts), and by such metadata as collectors, geographical names, and dates. Currently, the database does not fully support multidisciplinary applications, exists only in Finnish, and is somewhat tedious to use. In the very near future a standard thematic index will be added to the corpus. Every poem will be anchored to this...
 
To analyze ritual scenes in the Iliad, one first must contend with the myriad scenes scholars have deemed ritualistic. These include not only prayer, supplication, sacrifice, and oath-making, 1 but also gift exchanges and hospitality, 2 speechmaking and taunting, 3 grieving and funeral ceremonies, 4 and dressings and armings. 5 Indeed, the whole performance of the Iliad has been described as a ritualized feature of Totenkult (Seaford 1994; Derderian 2001) or, less comprehensively, a performance of Todesdichtung permeated with themes of lament, lament itself being identified as a micro-ritual with discernible performance features (Tsagalis 2004). Expressly or not, Homerists have attuned their ears to rituals in the poem ever since Parry and Lord discovered the performance-contexts for bards in the Balkans (for example, Lord 1960:13-29). By analogy with those performances, the Iliad represents an artifact of an extensive tradition of ritual performance: the ritual performed was the poem. Although ritual is basic to oral-traditional performance and to many features of Homeric life, one cannot presume that ritual scenes simply reflect lived traditions outside of the poem. Given the likely evolution of the poems, the claim is just too broad. Whose rituals? Which side of the Mediterranean? Which generation of poets? Further, as Katherine Derderian notes of the poem's funeral rituals, they must be at least in part fictionalized (2001:9). We can be reasonably sure that funeral rituals did not occur in hexameter, for instance, or not wholly so. In this essay I ponder to what extent ritual scenes in the poem might reflect actual ritual traditions, by examining those scenes in the light of ritual performance theory. I will argue that ritual scenes are composed with unique constraints that reflect the crystallization of especially ancient ritual traditions. Thus, they reflect compositional pressures beyond those of other kinds of typical scenes. Scenes of commensal and oath sacrifice are convenient for this investigation because they are highly formalized. Sacrifice scenes will be treated as a subgenre of typical scenes with unique performance features and genealogies. The focus, however, is not on the cultural differences between these two sacrificial traditions, 6 but on the extent to which their respective typical scenes manifest the features we can discern in ritual performances at large.
 
In this paper I will study the story that the Bolivian highland Chipayas tell about their origin and past. This oral tradition is closely related to the present. Not only does it explain and justify why they live where they do and how they do, but it also explains their often tense relationship with their immediate neighbors, the Aymaras. In the story, mythical and historical discourse are fused in order to construct their ethnic identity. Before examining the narrative in detail, it is necessary to discuss briefly the two theoretical concepts that underlie my analysis: ethnic identity and mythistory. The concept of ethnic identity is a construct that a sociocultural group creates to signal its self-definition, both for its own members as well as for outsiders. This understanding of identity, which is not static but undergoes changes, helps the group members shape and express perceptions of their own group and relationships with other groups. These perceptions can reflect the pride of belonging to a group and/or they can be a response to prejudice and discrimination, and in many cases both factors reinforce one another. The boundaries that result from this group-defining process can be physical (reflected, for example, in the competition over natural resources or access to markets) as well as conceptual (manifest, for example, in a certain interpretation of the past or a tradition, be it invented or not). Because social and ethnic groups always interact with other groups, this construct affects and changes a group's internal perceptions of identity and at the same time influences how a group shapes its image of other, especially neighboring, groups. This construct also contributes to the image that these neighboring groups form regarding the group in question. Both history and myth are normally verbal explanations of the past. They are used to construct socially and culturally relevant past events, are often related to public rituals, and are told by a narrator who tends to be a recognized representative of the group. Both history and myth claim to be authoritative and legitimate, and both highlight a continuing relevance of the past to the present and future. However, one of the most important tasks of myth is to interpret sociocultural values and give them meaning and importance in contemporary life. While history may be seen similarly, it is not typically used as a learning experience, although it may be intended as such. The most distinctive differences, which have largely determined our basic conceptual separation of myth and history, are medium and author. Myth is usually transmitted orally (and can be supported by visual means, such as rock shapes or paintings and/or rituals that enact the myth). However, when we analyze it, it has almost always been transferred to and transformed into writing, most often by an outsider. History tends to be transmitted in writing, but it is frequently communicated through oral or visual means (such as exhibitions or television), and this was even more the case in the past, when paintings and oral discourse were the only means of conveying "history" to an illiterate audience. It is also often enacted in public ceremonies, for example in commemoration. In this sense there is no clear boundary between a "fixed" written transmission and a "fluid" oral transmission. The other major difference is authorship. Myth has no identifiable authors; it is conceived of as a narrative that belongs to and is produced by the community, although, of course, it is practically impossible to study how myth develops over time in its own environment, without "outside" interference; therefore, little is known as to the function and role of the narrator and the audience in the shaping and reshaping of the text. History, on the contrary, normally has an individual as author, but once we start asking about the composition and editing process of a book, including the selection of sources as well as changes due to invited critique, the seemingly clearly defined authorship becomes elusive. As I hope to have shown, the concepts of myth and history are not as far apart from each other as one might think. Therefore, the fused concept of mythistory seems to be a...
 
In this essay I textually analyze a selection of Andean songs that I collected during doctoral fieldwork in the Peruvian Andes, between 2010 and 2011. Song is an important oral tradition in the Andes, where verse is normally accompanied by music and dance. Many song-genres (such as those presented here) are only performed during particular festivals, while others (for instance, the waynu) are part of daily life. The diversity of songs makes it difficult to classify “genres” according to Western lines of interpretation, which is why in this essay I have adopted an emic perspective and listed each song according to its place within the wider context of the festival. As John Miles Foley states (2002:36), “when dealing with the genres of oral poetry, expect a cornucopia. … Examine all defining features of each oral poem according to its idiosyncrasies rather than according to a prepackaged set of expectations,” for “care must be exercised to ‘read’ each oral genre on its own terms first.” Accordingly, this essay adopts an ethnopoetic model of analysis, reading “upwards” from the text rather than “downwards” from preconceived notions or categories. Indeed, “we need to make the effort to speak and hear the right language as fluently as we can manage, even if that effort entails a degree of culture shock” (20). Only by entering the “world” of the poetry—and, in the case of this essay, this means deep textual analysis in tandem with knowledge of the wider cultural context—can we reveal the underlying motivations of the texts in question. My research involved traveling among various villages in Bolognesi and Pomabamba provinces, Ancash department, Peru, in search of local song traditions. My focus was on the linguistic and literary aspects of the songs, and particularly how they can elucidate the concept of “identity.” The songs presented here are extracts from the verses sung during the Masha festival in the village of Mangas, Bolognesi. I examine their portrayal of two major aspects of identity-creation, namely “unity” and “difference.” Mangas is well-known across Bolognesi for its traditional festivals, which have earned this village the popular designation as el pueblo debrujos (“town of witches,” a designation not necessarily used in a derogatory manner). The principal language of the songs is Ancash Quechua, a member of the Quechua 1 branch of the Quechua language-family, according to Torero’s (1974, 2002) classification. Quechua 1 is spoken in the central Peruvian Andes, whereas the Quechua 2 branch extends from southern Colombia to northern Chile and Argentina, its original range roughly coterminous with the borders of the Incan Empire. Given the far greater diversity of Quechua 1, we know that it is much older than Quechua 2 (Parker 1976:27–28), despite the very common misbelief—even by Quechua 1 speakers—that the Quechua (a Quechua 2 variety) of the former Incan capital, Cuzco, represents an original standard. In common with many Amerindian language-families, Quechua is polysynthetic and agglutinating. A polysynthetic language is one that “allows the formation of extremely long words with many affixes” (Parker 1976:29, my translation). An agglutinating language is one where the affixes “undergo very little fusion or morphophonemic change” (29); in other words, adding new affixes does not change the form of those already there. All Quechua affixes are suffixes, and most of the suffixes can combine spontaneously with any word-root so that words are often formed ad hoc as meaning is fine-tuned by the addition of different suffixes. According to Mazzotti, Quechua can therefore “better express tonalities and affects without depending entirely on an extensive vocabulary” (2003:101). How such suffixes interact in the creation of meaning is thus a central issue for the current essay. An additional linguistic concern arises from the influence of Spanish now being omnipresent across the Andes, to the extent that it can be viewed as a second native language. As a result, the texts analyzed here incorporate aspects of Spanish to greater or lesser degrees. The festival of Masha traditionally takes place every November in Mangas and lasts for two weeks. It centers on the construction of the church roof, which is typically changed every year...
 
In the year 1892, Lady Anne Blunt published her translation of one portion of the Arabic popular romance, the Sīrat Banī Hilāl. She called it The Celebrated Romance of the Stealing of the Mare. 1 Lady Blunt, and her husband, Wilfred Scawen Blunt, were Romantics. The latter once wrote, "to cast off the slough of Europe, to have done with ugliness and noise, to bathe one's sick Western soul in the pure healing of the East. The mere act of passing from one's graceless London clothes into the white draperies of Arabia is a new birth." 2 They were also medievalists. To them, the heroic tales of the Arabs, and those of Abū Zayd al-Hilālī in particular, seemed to evoke memories of what they had read, or heard, of the chansons de geste of medieval Christendom, so that Lady Blunt felt moved to write in her Preface (1892:viii-ix): As a romance, "Abu Zeyd" is of more undoubted interest. It is not only an excellent example of the Mediaeval Epic in its Eastern dress, but is old enough to have been itself, perhaps, a model from which Europe took its romantic inspiration. It is not generally remembered how immense an infl uence the Arab invasion of Spain in the eighth century had on European thought, political, religious, and literary. From Arabia through Spain the idea of Christian "chivalry" sprang, the romance of the horseman of noble blood armed with the lance as contrasted with the base-born citizen on foot. The knight-errantry of our middle-ages was purely Arabian; the championing of the distressed, especially of women, by wandering adventurers; the magnanimous code of honor in war; even the coats of mail-armour, and the heraldic bearings, which last may perhaps be traced to the "wusms" or family brands used in Arab tribes for the marking of their camels. Again, the feudalism of the middle ages was Arabian; the union of 1 The work is dedicated to Charles Doughty. Its Arabic text, Qiṣṣat faras c Uqaylī wa mā jarā lahā ma c al-Amīr Abū Zayd, is probably derived from a lithograph copy now in Cambridge University Library (Moh 208 D.2 l) which was once in the library of Lady Anne Blunt.
 
In memoriam John Miles Foley In a recent book (Elmer 2013) examining the representation of collective decision making in the Iliad, I have advanced two related claims: first, that the Iliad projects consensus as the ideal outcome of collective deliberation; and second, that the privileging of consensus can be meaningfully correlated with the nature of the poem as the product of an oral tradition. The Iliad’s politics, I argue, are best understood as a reflection of the dynamics of the tradition out of which the poem as we know it developed. In the course of the present essay, I intend to apply this approach to some of the other texts and traditions that made up the poetic ecology of archaic Greece, in order to illustrate the diversity of this ecology and the contrast between two of its most important “habitats,” or contexts for performance: Panhellenic festivals and the symposium. I will examine representative examples from the lyric and elegiac traditions associated with the poets Alcaeus of Mytilene and Theognis of Megara, respectively, and I will cast a concluding glance over the Odyssey, which sketches an illuminating contrast between festival and symposium. I begin, however, by distilling some of the most important claims from my earlier work in order to establish a framework for my discussion. Scholars have been interested in the politics of the Homeric poems since antiquity. Ancient critics tended to draw from the poems lessons about proper political conduct, in accordance with a general tendency to view Homer as the great primordial educator of the Greeks. Thus Philodemus, in the first century BCE, wrote a treatise called On the Good King according to Homer, extracting lessons from both poems about the appropriate exercise of power; Dio of Prusa has Alexander of Macedon expounding to his father, Philip, Homer’s preeminent virtue as an instructor of princes (Oration 2). Modern scholars have tended instead to treat the poems as documents for early Greek history—or rather, prehistory. In the wake of Milman Parry’s demonstration of the thoroughly traditional character of Homeric poetry, it has come to seem plausible that the poems, by preserving a tradition that antedates our earliest written texts in alphabetic Greek, may offer a precious glimpse into the prehistory of Greek politics. Historians are thus able to offer the poems as evidence for the political forms and structures of late Bronze Age and early Iron Age Greece. Still the best-known example of this kind of argument is Moses Finley’s The World of Odysseus (1978 [1954]), which founds a number of claims about the society of the so-called Dark Age (roughly 1100–800 BCE) on nothing more than the testimony of these two literary texts. The appeal of such an approach is readily apparent—it holds the promise of providing access to a period for which textual sources are otherwise lacking—but so are the perils. One must always exercise caution when seeking to correlate a literary text with historical realia. This is particularly true when no external documentary evidence is available as a control. In the case of Homeric poetry, an additional problem arises from the very same circumstance that seemed to open up the possibility of a prehistory of Greek politics in the first place, namely, the indebtedness of the Homeric poems to a very lengthy oral tradition, as demonstrated by Milman Parry and Albert Lord. It is in the nature of such a tradition to preserve within its inherited and formulaic diction traces of chronologically diverse periods, so that the “Homeric World” described by Finley is really an amalgam of elements from very different eras. For example, within the world of the Iliad, the boar’s tusk helmet worn by Odysseus in Book 10—a Bronze Age piece of equipment that would not have been seen in Greece after, say, the fifteenth century BCE—can happily coexist with Iron Age weapons and implements that first came into use centuries later. A similar kind of synthesis can be observed with regard to marriage customs, burial practices, and combat techniques. But if this is the case, how confident can we be that the poems reflect...
 
Chart of the nine categories of verbal arts in the Palawan language and their respective translations in English.
A sample beginning of an archive listing (in this case for the Tala-andig bukidnon linguistic group). Screenshot captured from http://epics.ateneo.edu/epics/linguistic_groups/archive_listing/5.
A small sample of the Palawan and English versions of Mämiminbin. Screenshot captured from http:// epics.ateneo.edu/epics/linguistic_groups/epic/15?epic_number=8&epic_version=Palawan+%26+English.
Le chant d'une épopée palawan / The Song of a Palawan Epic: Mämiminbin, Literature of the Voice 1. 1st edition 2004 as a CD-ROM. http://journal.oral tradition.org/issues/28ii/revel#my Gallery-picture(5)
Palawan is an island in the Philippines with remarkable heritages of both an archaeological and an intangible nature. Major prehistoric discoveries occurred on the island in the 1960s, and today intensive excavations are ongoing alongside progressive, interdisciplinary research employing new analytical tools. In May 1970 Charles Macdonald (an anthropologist) and I (trained as a linguist and an ethnologist) met the Pala’wan, and since that time, we have both regularly shared in their lives with many faithful returns. But during our very first week of fieldwork, we were invited to attend two simultaneous weddings where we heard for the first time Usuy, a beloved singer of tales and shaman, singing Kudaman. This lengthy narrative—which was performed that night in order to entertain the relatives and friends assembled under the roof of the large meeting house on the eve of the jural discussion related to the marriage alliances—is referred to among the Pala’wan as tultul, a genre-defining term I have proposed to translate as “epic” in contrast to the other eight defined oral genres (see Figure 1) present among the culture of the Highlanders on the southern part of this island. Most of my research over the last 43 years has been centered in this same location facing the Sulu Sea. Sensitive to the linguistic concerns and the beauty of oral traditions among the Highlanders, I have focused a great deal of attention upon their own knowledge of nature and their verbal arts. As early as 1987 when multimedia technology was first developing, I conceived of a research program that would document and safeguard the long, sung narratives of this group as well as those of other animists or Islamic groups. It was meant to be implemented not only for the Philippines (with over 170 languages), but for the entire Nusantara area that includes several neighboring countries belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the vast Austronesian family. Fig 1. Chart of the nine categories of verbal arts in the Palawan language and their respective translations in English. View full resolution During the ten years from 1991 to 2001, while I was conducting an international seminar on epics within the “Integral Study of Silk Roads, Roads of Dialogue” program that was part of UNESCO’s Decade for Cultural Development, I was able to expand efforts to document and safeguard this multifaceted intangible heritage. At this point, I was able to implement my vision of a multimedia archive of oral epics not in Central Asia, but in the country that was most familiar to me as a linguist-anthropologist, the Philippines. In 1991 the collection began with collaboration among 25 Filipino scholars and other knowledgeable locals, and with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and the French Embassy in Manila (including four grants per year over the entire ten-year period) we were able to preserve the voices and beauty of verbal art forms from 15 different cultural communities. This preservation process involved audiotapes, audio-video tapes, photographs, and computer storage of manuscripts in the various source languages and in English, Tagalog, and/or French translations. However, we have not yet been able to fully cover the multiplicity of languages and cultures present in this complex archipelago, and much work still remains to be done in order to preserve the memory of the many songs that still survive. It is my hope that the multimedia archive we have initiated will be enriched by the younger generation of scholars and other individuals from the Philippines or abroad. Fig 2. Map of the Philippine Archipelago, with locations of epic collection indicated (red: animists groups; green: Islamicized groups; blue: Christianized groups). View full resolution Over the last 23 years, the Philippine Epics and Ballads Archive has involved 69 singers and 11 technical assistants, in addition to many scholars and local informants. Most of the documents were taped originally in analog form, but with the collaboration of the audio-visual departments at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique in France, and Ateneo de Manila University, all...
 
The English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), http://ebba.english.ucsb.edu, hosted at the University of California-Santa Barbara, was founded in 2003 to render pre-1700 English broadside ballads fully accessible as texts, art, songs, and cultural records. EBBA focuses especially on the broadside ballads of the seventeenth century because that period was the “heyday” of the genre. In their heyday, ballads were printed on one side of large sheets of paper (hence “broad”-side) mostly in swirling, decorative, black-letter (or what we today call “Gothic”) typeface, embellished with many woodcuts and other ornamentation, and labeled with a tune title printed just below the song title. These alluring multimedia artifacts addressed multifarious topics—often from more than one perspective—to catch the interest of a wide audience. But such ballads were also the cheapest form of printed materials in the period—costing on average just a penny at the beginning of the seventeenth century and dropping to half a penny by its end—so as to ensure their affordability to all but the indigent. As cheap entertainment, they were then rather ephemeral items, printed quickly on poor quality sheets that would often be folded and carried about by their purchasers or pasted up on a wall as a poor man’s decoration. Such cheap, transferable wares would frequently be re-used as disposable “waste” paper to reinforce book bindings or as kindling, toilet paper, and so forth. Any broadsides that were pasted up would soon be painted or plastered over. Because of their transience, comparably few of the millions of copies printed have survived, and those that still remain are dispersed across the United Kingdom and the United States, carefully guarded by the libraries and museums that hold them. Most websites, even the admirable Bodleian Library’s ballad database (http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk), represent only a small sampling of the total number of extant seventeenth-century broadside ballads—estimated by EBBA to be roughly 10,000-11,000 items. EBBA’s goal, however, is to make accessible all holdings of these early broadside ballads through a single site, where they are extensively catalogued and accessible by both simple and advanced search functions. Furthermore, unlike any other site that includes printed ballads, we offer high-quality color photography and different viewings of the originals: as album sheet facsimiles (the form in which ballads were often collected—trimmed and cut apart before being pasted onto album paper), as ballad sheet facsimiles (closer to how they would have looked when they came off the press, which sometimes requires the EBBA team to reassemble the cut-apart pieces), as facsimile transcriptions (with the often difficult-to-read original typeface replaced by easy-to-read modern Times Roman, while retaining as closely as possible the formatting and ornamentation of the original), as TEI/XML text (with the metadata and words of the ballad marked up by transferable digital code), and as MARC records (for library use). Finally, again like no other website, EBBA provides recordings of all extant tunes for the ballads. As of this writing, EBBA has fully digitized 6,000 pre-1700 English broadside ballads. It has been difficult at times to decide whether or not to include items in our archive. Among our many deciding factors are: does the one-page poem recall the features of other more clearly recognizable ballads (often self-titled as “ballad”) and—very importantly despite the existence of broadside ballads as multimedia artifacts—is the poem meant to be sung? Though EBBA is devoted to archiving the printed, that is, published, ballad, and thus what the great folklorist Francis James Child, in an 1872 letter to Professor Sven Gruntvig, derogatively called “veritable dung-hills” (Hustvedt 1930:254, in reference to the Pepys and Roxburghe printed ballad collections), we at EBBA, like contemporaries of the seventeenth century, highly value printed ballads as songs. And just as Child in fact consulted and included texts from broadside ballads in his famous edition of “traditional” and purely “oral” ballads—as Mary Ellen Brown has shown (2010:65, 67)—so we at EBBA embrace the oral tradition as an integral and inter-medial part of what constitutes the...
 
The primary purpose of the Sirat Bani Hilal Digital Archive (http://www.siratbanihilal.ucsb.edu) is to preserve and make accessible online, to both scholars and the general public, materials related to the Arabic oral epic tradition of Sirat Bani Hilal (the epic of the Bani Hilal Bedouin tribe). The archive was created with the assistance of a yearlong “Digital Innovation” grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (2008-09) and is now a permanent collection in the holdings of the Davidson Research Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The core of the archive is a body of audio recordings, photographs, and field notes from research conducted by Dwight F. Reynolds (Professor, Arabic Language and Literature, UCSB) in Egypt in 1982-83, 1986-87, 1988, 1993, and 1995. The archive features a historical introduction to the Bani Hilal oral epic tradition, a collection of audio recordings of live performances of the epic, Arabic-language transcriptions of those performances, English translations of the texts, a photo gallery featuring images of both the epic singers and the village of al-Bakatush in Northern Egypt where the recordings were made, a bibliography of printed sources, a listing of online resources relevant to the oral epic, selections from Reynolds’ original field notes, and a special section termed “Virtual Performances.” This last section is devoted to half-hour segments of epic performances where the listener/viewer can listen to the original audio recording while reading onscreen a synchronized Arabic transcription and English translation of the text that appears verse by verse and includes all of the comments and reactions of the audience members. This format allows the listener/viewer to experience an epic performance in real time—thereby getting a feel for the pace of the story as it unfolds line by line—and also allows one to hear and understand the audience’s reactions and the poet’s responses so that the interactive nature of epic performances in this tradition is encountered firsthand. The archive is designed to be of use to scholars and students of epic poetry and oral tradition, as well as those interested in Egypt and the broader Arab world. Perhaps more significant than providing materials for Westerners, however, is the fact that this site now offers Egyptians and Arabic speakers around the world direct access to recordings and texts from a tradition that is rapidly disappearing but still significant as an element of Egyptian and Arab identity. The poets featured on this site are now deceased, so it is particularly satisfying to think that their children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors are still able to listen to and appreciate the artistry of these remarkable men who spent their childhoods learning the epic from their fathers and grandfathers in the early- to mid-twentieth century. The audio recordings featured in the archive were originally recorded on chromium (IV) oxide cassette tapes using a Sony Walkman Professional WM-D6C with both unidirectional and stereo microphones. Each recording has been re-edited before being uploaded to the archive in order to eliminate major auditory disturbances, ameliorate sound quality as much as possible, and equalize volume throughout. The use of cassette tapes and batteries (since there was no reliable source of electricity in the village in the 1980s) means that there are breaks every 30 minutes. The audio recordings are still organized and numbered according to their original archive (that is, tape) number, and every break is indicated in the Arabic transcriptions and English translations. Though the poets were often aware of the break and would repeat a verse so that there was no break in the flow of the text, occasionally a verse or two was lost. In such cases, the lacuna has been marked, and in some places footnotes that summarize the lost material have been provided. All features of the website can be commented on by visitors, and suggestions regarding revisions or corrections of the Arabic and English texts are particularly appreciated. Improvements and changes in both the transcriptions and translations are meant to be an ongoing process so that the resulting texts are at least partially the result of “crowd-sourcing.” Copies of all primary material that appears...
 
The Joe Heaney Archives (http://www.joeheaney.org) is a digital resource focusing on a single individual’s repertoire of song and narrative, now surviving through recordings made of the man during his lifetime (1919-1984). The archives represent an edited sample of that repertoire, based on decisions made by the team who assembled the site. The work received funding from the Irish Research Council in 2009-10, and it was also supported in various ways by the National University of Ireland, Galway and by the University of Washington, Seattle. The site is bilingual, available in both Irish and English. The team decided to prioritize the Irish site as a reminder of the daily use of the Irish language as a vernacular in the home region of the singer. Though this presentation may at first seem daunting to those who do not know Irish, by simply changing the language preference at the top left-hand corner of the introductory page, the English site becomes available immediately at the click of a mouse. The homepage contains a number of items connected to the singer’s life, including a recording of the singer’s great niece singing one of the area’s great love songs, An Sagairtín (“The Little Priest”). Additionally, the timetable of the annual Joe Heaney Festival is available on the site, and the aim is to keep the homepage fresh and relevant by changing some of the items available on it. There are various methods of searching the database of material, all of which are readily available through dropdown menus. Four biographical and historical essays, written specially for the site, are provided under the heading “Joe Heaney,” and a small section that includes video recordings can be accessed under “Video.” Finally, for those wishing to learn more, a comprehensive bibliography can be found via the “Further Study” link. In his seminal book, How to Read an Oral Poem (2002), John Miles Foley once drew attention to the stubborn, deep-rooted reality that it is written tradition that commands respect in most university curricula. Questioning whether text, writing, and reading as conceived in the Western tradition represent the apex of human communication, he welcomed the advent of the electronic age as a climate in which these questions might be revisited (23-24). It has been our hope in building the Joe Heaney Archives that we have made a small contribution to that debate. Joe Heaney was a traditional singer, raconteur, and storyteller from Carna, County Galway, Ireland, about fifty miles west of Galway City. In his local area, traditional lifeways and modes of entertainment continued to flourish even as they were radically changing in other parts of rural Ireland, and members of his family were well known as carriers and performers of song, music, dance, and storytelling. Heaney’s birth coincided with the culmination of a great wave of cultural renaissance that washed over Ireland in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first 20 years of the twentieth. A key date in this period is the foundation of the Gaelic League by Douglas Hyde and others on July 31, 1893. The idea that English language and culture were superior to Irish equivalents had gained prominence by means of the law and governmental administration that had been English since the final conquest of the last independent Gaelic leaders in the early seventeenth century. From 1850, in the rush of emigration that the Great Famine accelerated, this perceived superiority carried the force of an unquestioned truth. The Irish language and culture became more than ever stigmatized markers of poverty and ignorance, obstacles to progress and social advancement. Cultural leaders and activists became concerned about such developments and set about trying to reverse a rapid and alarming shift in language. In 1897 the Gaelic League established An tOireachtas, a festival to promote all forms of Gaelic arts, including the performing arts. Hyde valued the performing arts as a close second after literature in his program of cultural revitalization. Song and singing were highly regarded, and arguments soon broke out over what the Irish style was. Although much debate ensued from efforts to define it, this style was considered to...
 
The Estonian Folklore Archives was established as the central folklore archives of Estonia in 1927. The original collections of the archives were built upon manuscript reports and accounts of Estonian folklore, consisting of over 115,000 pages of material contributed primarily by the noted Estonian folklore collector Jakob Hurt (1939-1907) and his more than 1,400 informants in the late nineteenth century. Today the Estonian Folklore Archives holds nearly 1.5 million manuscript pages as well as a collection of photographs, videos, and audio recordings. After the death of Jakob Hurt in 1906, the tomes of manuscripts collected and systematized by him were transferred to the repository of the Finnish Literature Society (Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura) in Finland. One reason for the move was the lack of appropriate preservation conditions for such valuable material in Estonia; another was the Finnish folklore researcher Kaarle Krohn’s long-term interest in the materials. Following this transfer, a large-scale copying of Hurt’s collections was initiated in Finland (see further Järvinen 2008:57-58). Negotiations about the return of the collections were started in 1924 with an aim of establishing folklore archives in Estonia. Folklorist Oskar Loorits (1900-1961) was largely the brain behind the idea, and he was assigned the task of managing the retransfer of the collections. The central archives were to be established on the example of the Finnish Literature Society in Finland and were directly inspired by the establishment of the Latvian Folklore Archives in 1924 as the first of its kind in the Baltic region. Following lengthy discussions about which institution would control the central archives, the collections were successfully retransferred to Estonia in 1927. The archives started operations at the beginning of September, but on September 24, 1927, at the first meeting of the governing committee, the Estonian Folklore Archives was officially established as an independent institution under the Estonian National Museum. The archives were housed in 1927 at a former residence on Aia (now Vanemuise) Street in Tartu. The Archival Library of the Estonian National Museum, which had been established in 1909 and originally intended as an Estonian national library, was also brought there at that time. Two years later in 1929 the Estonian Cultural History Archives was founded in the same building. The main objective of the newly-founded archives was to bring previously existing folklore collections together into one place in order to facilitate research, to organize extensive fieldwork throughout Estonia, and to begin broad research on the folklore collected. Institution-initiated collecting of folklore in Estonia was started in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, resulting in a total of over 8,000 pages housed in the collection of the Learned Estonian Society and in the folklore collection of the Estländische Literärische Gesellschaft literary union, both located in Tallinn. These collections were incorporated into the Estonian Folklore Archives, as were many others (for instance, Hurt’s collection and the Estonian Students’ Society’s Collection), including the voluminous collection of the folklorist Matthias Johann Eisen (1857-1934) from the University of Tartu. The archives’ primary purpose has always been to make the manuscript materials as easily available to researchers as possible. Thus, on the initiative of Oskar Loorits, who was at that time head of the archives, an appropriate system of registers and card files was developed to enable researchers to find and gain access to every single folklore piece in the handwritten volumes. In order to preserve the volumes for the sake of better analysis, copies of folklore texts were typed and organized in folders, and shorter texts were copied and organized into thematic card files. Folklore material was also copied from the collections of other institutions, where it was sometimes found among other material (for example, language corpora). Ever since the founding of the archives, special emphasis has been placed on the idea that the archives’ workers must be involved not only in facilitating access to the materials but also in researching the material from one perspective or another. Oskar Loorits focused on Livonian folklore and particularly on Livonian religion, Herbert Tampere explored folk songs and tunes, and Rudolf Põldmäe studied folk dance...
 
This essay addresses the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of documenting oral performance on film, the evolution of a polymodal form of archival documentation leading to online monographs, and the question of how performers may benefit from the archival process—specifically with reference to performances of the epic of Pabuji in Rajasthan, India.1 Owing to digital technology and the emergence of the Internet as a broadcasting forum and marketing agent, a phenomenon has occurred which we might term the “commodification” of expressive culture. In this technological universe where sounds and images are sold for the benefit of some (but not others), issues of copyright, intellectual property rights, and the commercialization and marketing of expressive culture on the web have become paramount.2 Video excerpts are being broadcast around the world in free and open formats.3 Whereas documentation of oral performance traditions by scholars and for scholars was once the norm, I propose that we—as ethnographers, linguists, and folklorists—must ensure that such performers can also benefit from the process of academic study and documentation, with support for the perpetuation of their livelihood as well as their cultural and artistic legacy. How do we as scholars and ethnographic filmmakers respond to these challenges and use these media to the performers’ benefit? As a folklorist and student of Dan Ben-Amos, Dell Hymes, and Henry Glassie, I have always turned in my scholarly interests to the study of performance in context. In this particular instance, I set out to film traditional performances of the folk epic known as Pabuji ki par/phad (meaning “Pabuji with the scroll”).4 This genre has survived in oral form for six hundred years, but it had not yet been documented digitally. The project was to document performances and The phad belonging to Patashi Devi, Mohan Bhopa, and family, filmed during the performance of the epic by Patashi Devi and Bhanwar Lal Bhopa at Pabusar, District Churu, Tehsil Ratangarh, Shekawati, Rajasthan, May 6, 2009. All photographs accompanying this essay were taken by Elizabeth Wickett. texts for an archive funded by the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research and dedicated to the recording of linguistic and anthropological traditions under threat of extinction. My intention was to film a random series of performances by noted singers of the epic from Pabusar—a hamlet near Ratangarh, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer—in the contexts determined by the performers,5 transcribe and translate these performances in situ, and publish them as a series of videos and texts. The project culminated in the production of four DVDs featuring the entire performances (as sung without editing) plus transcripts and a final film, To Earn Our Bread, comprising excerpts from what are clearly among the audience’s favourite episodes: the tale of the snake-god Gogaji who bites his future bride Kelam (Pabuji’s niece and a higher caste Rajput) to secure their marriage and the celebratory account of Pabuji’s gala wedding that is interrupted by the theft of cows by his evil stepbrother (Wickett 2010a). Gogaji transformed into a cobra bites Kelam (with Parvati Devi and Hari Ram). http://journal.oraltradition.org/issues/27ii/wickett#myGallery-picture(2) Harmal Devasi is propelled across the salty sea to Lanka by the blessing of Pabuji (with Patashi Devi and Bhanwar Lal (Pabusar). http://journal.oraltradition.org/issues/27ii/wickett#myGallery-picture(3) Folklore was long ago defined by Dan Ben-Amos (1972:13) as “artistic communication in small groups,” and in this epic genre the definition is particularly apt. The epic of Pabuji is performed, on request, for small audiences across Rajasthan by professional musicians of the Bhopa caste. Patrons request performances when they wish to invoke the blessing and intercession of their revered saint and intercessor, Pabuji.6 For this project, I decided that I would emulate this tradition and become a patron.7 Patashi Devi Bhopi in Pabusar. Man Bhari Devi Bhopi in Jodhpur. Parvati Devi Bhopi in Jaisalmer.
 
Moving oral traditions into the domain of the printed word involves a first step of transcription. Anyone who has transcribed recordings from fieldwork will recollect the grinding effort demanded by this task. One listens again and again: striving to catch the meaning and tone of words as they gallop past, struggling to coax a herd of words into orderly lines, straining to remain attentive to other sounds—comments, interjections, interruptions, parallel performances—that are simultaneously shaping a text. Yet when working with a language other than one intended for publication, assembling a transcription can almost immediately give way to the work of refining a translation and the challenge of embedding a text in the analytical frameworks of presentations and published writings. In this essay, though, I pause to consider the practice of transcription, and the material artifacts made when moving oral tradition into written form. Drawing on fieldwork with singers and their songs in Kangra, Northwest India, I ask: what sorts of social interactions and cultural insights are generated around the laborious process and the raw product of transcribing oral texts? At first glance, transcribing another’s words might appear a perfectly mechanical task—one that voice recognition software could seamlessly accomplish if programmed to understand the language and the idiosyncrasies of a particular speaker. Yet our choices for the form of transcription emerge from our own and local biases of what certain genres of texts look like, and decisions on presentation shape how readers read, recognize, and re-imagine oral texts from the page (Fine 1984; Finnegan 1992:194–207; Tedlock 1983). Further, the form of recording that was used also affects the resulting text; for example, as Dennis Tedlock’s (1983) groundbreaking work on transcription of Zuni oral narratives has shown, dictation (as with Boasian handwritten texts) radically influences the spoken tempo of performance (38), while recording devices are an altering presence in their own right (298–99). Following Tedlock, many scholars have striven for greater fidelity to oral performance by adapting the use of different fonts, formats, notes, and asides in producing transcribed texts. Depending on the intended purpose, folk narratives, life stories, oral testimonies, plays, songs, and other performative genres that have been adapted to written form all demand different creative challenges—yet once written up, the decisions made en route may vanish. As Ruth Finnegan writes (1992:199), “oral-derived texts are sometimes presented as authoritative, but without knowing the transcribing strategies it is dangerous to accept this at face value.” From the perspective of anthropologists, the transcription of others’ words is part of a larger spectrum of texts generated while “writing culture” (Clifford and Marcus 1986). Fieldnotes too are rife with quotes, even if they do not carry entire stretches of oral texts. In attempting to reproduce others’ words with fidelity, written transcriptions of oral traditions remain more openly recognizable as the creation of others than fieldnotes (which also may be others’ creations, though they are usually retold in the author’s voice). Particularly when written down in a script that the performers themselves are able to read—or understand when read aloud —transcriptions can represent mutually recognizable fragments of shared cultural knowledge, and so are invaluable for eliciting oral literary criticism (Dundes 1966; Narayan 1995) and for more generally facilitating interpretive collaborations (cf. Lassiter 2008; Lawless 1993). In a tribute to Julie Cruikshank’s The Social Life of Stories (1998), I think of these fieldwork interactions as an aspect of the social life of transcriptions. A few years ago, the Belgian journal Interval(le)s published a special issue on “Interdisciplinary Transcriptions” (2008) that brought together writers and scholars from many fields to showcase a wide span of disciplinary engagements with the process and products of transcription. In an essay for that issue, I was inspired to reflect on aspects of transcribing and translating a Hindu holy man’s teaching stories (Narayan 2008b) that I had not elaborated on when writing about these stories for my first book (Narayan 1989). That essay made me also think more closely about transcribing women’s songs in Kangra in the Northwest Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, India. Translating stories, I had not lingered over shades of...
 
This essay investigates the use of storytelling in the process of cultural and linguistic revitalization through specific contemporary examples drawn from the Internet. By examining instances of adaptation of Sami tales and legends to digital environments, I discuss new premises and challenges for the emergence of such narratives. In particular, within a contemporary context characterized by an increasing variety of media and channels, as well as by an improvement in minority politics, it is important to examine how expressive culture and traditional modes of expression are transposed and negotiated. The rich Sami storytelling tradition is a central form of cultural expression. Its role in the articulation of norms, values, and discourses within the community has been emphasized in previous research (Balto 1997; Cocq 2008; Fjellström 1986); it is a means for learning and communicating valuable knowledge—a shared understanding. Legends and tales convey information, educate, socialize, and entertain. Their role within contemporary inreach and outreach initiatives is explored in this essay from the perspective of adaptation and revitalization. As I emphasize, the explicit goals in minority politics are factors that have an effect on the selection and adaptation of Sami expressive culture. From this perspective, the Internet is approached as a place of creation and negotiation for traditional storytelling through a case study that I hope will offer a relevant contribution to other indigenous communities. Additionally, this study illustrates how the potential of the Internet has to be nuanced and interpreted in relation to offline practices regarding such materials and traditions. The Sami population lives in the Sápmi area that encompasses northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. According to the Swedish Sami parliament, the Sami population is about 80,000–95,000, but the lack of a census based on ethnicity makes this estimate imprecise. In the definition applied by the Sami parliaments, language and self-ascription are the criteria that characterize who is Sami. The prerequisites for the Sami minorities in the four countries have varied and affected different Sami groups to various extents, but policies of cultural assimilation were a common denominator until the Second World War (Elenius 2006:149–249; Lundmark 2008:141–84). As a result, the Sami identity and symbols associated with it were stigmatized, and the Sami languages are today endangered. Since the 1970s revitalization movements have taken place. A first wave characterized by a strong political awareness resulted in the establishment of Sami parliaments in Norway, Sweden, and Finland (Bjørklund 2000:20–48). In the context of the early twenty-first century, many minorities and indigenous peoples benefit from a more favorable ideological and political climate. Injustices, infringements, and violations of rights—as well as loss of languages—are most often problems that governments are striving to solve—by giving minority groups an increased degree of participation in decision-making and representation, for instance. A positive change in attitudes has even been concretized at the international level by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and at the European level by the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. At national levels, the recognition of official minority languages alongside additional language legislation has occurred in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. As Scheller and Vinka (forthcoming) point out, “benevolent legislation is often a prerequisite [to language revitalization], but matters of implementation are as vital.” Further, revitalization requires changing community attitudes (Grenoble and Whaley 2006:13). It is in this context that Sami initiatives for the revitalization of language and culture take place and come to expression in many domains (Pietikäinen 2008; Scheller 2011). Revitalization is a “conscious effort … to construct a more satisfying culture” (Wallace 1956:265), “a group-level attempt to recapture an idealized past in order to reintegrate it with an uncertain future” (Balzer 1999:75). Bearing in mind the close relationship between identity and language in Sami identity management (cf. Seurujärvi-Kari 2012), revitalization should be understood here as a process that includes both cultural and linguistic aspects. The requirement of a change in attitudes (cf. Grenoble and Whaley 2006), conscious efforts (cf. Wallace 1956), and future-oriented attempts (cf. Balzer 1999...
 
Although oral literature has conventionally been considered a field of study for folklorists, anthropologists started taking an interest in the subject very early on, conceptualizing such materials as socially embedded communicative strategies. The present paper investigates a body of texts that emerged in the Kyrgyz speech community in what is today northern Kyrgyzstan over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In an effort to implement Soviet nationality policies, Soviet folklorists in the 1960s identified and collected a sizeable body of Kuyruchuk stories and published them in Russian (Bektenov 1964). Since Kyrgyzstan's declaration of independence in 1991, two new books have been published, one containing some of the figure's adventures and the other summarizing and analyzing stories about him, this time in Kyrgyz (Öskönalï uulu 1997, Kenchiev and Abdïrazakov 2002). The stories are generally simple and evoke the style of folktales; under socialism a number of such stories were published in journals aimed at a young readership (e.g. Zhash Leninchi, Kirgizskie pioneri), and Kuyruchuk is also mentioned in shorter publications (e.g. Bektenov 1959, 1978, 1981; Toygonbaeva 1987; Naymanbay 1990). The paper is organized along two axes. First, it identifies a classic "Trickster" figure set in modern Kyrgyz history, ranging from the period of the last decades of Russian rule to early Soviet times. It will be shown how in the wake of major social upheavals, Central Asian oral tradition mobilizes the figure of the Trickster to demonstrate the ambiguities of everyday life at times of rapid political and social transformation. Second, the materials presented illuminate more general processes of cultural production and entextualization in socialist and postsocialist Central Asia. It will be argued that the Soviet and the Kyrgyz states at times deploy very similar strategies to pursue overlapping goals of identity-building. Shifting strategies aimed at supporting different state projects can be recognized in the meta-folklore of a text corpus taken from Kyrgyz oral tradition. Since the text corpus is available as printed materials, we see it as being situated at the interface of oral and written realms (Goody 1993). The stories in question were published in Russian and Kyrgyz during the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, and we have no detailed reliable information concerning performative and receptive aspects, yet they are clearly rooted within the established genre of Central Asian oral tradition. Given the lack of extratextual evidence, the lines of argument mentioned above will be elaborated on the basis of evidence provided by the stories themselves. In view of these two central concerns, the classification of the stories poses a dilemma. Several possibilities presented themselves. Of these we considered two in particular: one was to follow the historical setting of the stories, starting with Kuyruchuk's adventures in the Russian Empire and continuing with those set in the young Soviet Union. The other was to concentrate on the major historical periods in which the stories were published: the Soviet Union in the early 1960s and the early years of independence in the mid-1990s. These two competing organizational possibilities underline the complex nature of the concept of "context," ranging from the geographical/spatial to the broader social and historical. The latter option initially seemed more attractive, since it offered a suitable structure to elaborate on shifts in ideological strategies concerning important themes such as the unequal distribution of resources, the need for social justice, attitudes toward religion, the force of local tradition in constituting ethnic identity, inter-ethnic relations, and the like in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. After seriously considering this possibility, we have decided not to follow this path for several reasons. It must be emphasized that at no time has a systematic analysis of all the stories included in these volumes been carried out, and the same holds true for those stories that have been published separately in various journals over the course of the socialist and postsocialist decades. A full comparison of the stories published in Soviet and post-Soviet times will become possible only when all printed stories from both periods have been systematically collected and analyzed. Following this path would be appropriate if we wished to focus...
 
This essay describes a website that brought the earliest audio recordings made in Atlantic Canada to the attention of scholars, singers, and cultural historians: MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada (http://www.mun.ca/folklore/leach). Among the many collections of traditional song that have been made in Newfoundland and Labrador, there was until 2004 a noticeable gap in their accessibility. Collections by Karpeles (1970), Greenleaf and Mansfield (1965 [1933]), Peacock (1965), and Lehr (1985)—as well as Leach’s Labrador collection (1966)—were published in print editions, and selections from Peacock (1956) were released on LP, but the earliest audio recordings made on the islands of Cape Breton and Newfoundland by American folklorist MacEdward Leach were largely unknown. His collections are important not only for their size but also for their geographic and generic range. Unlike the earlier collectors, Leach was open to local compositions, as well as songs of American, English, Scottish, or Irish origin. In the late 1940s Leach had traveled with his first wife, Alice May (Maria) Doane, to her native Cape Breton, where they recorded over 80 songs in Gaelic. In 1950 and 1951, he and his second wife, Nancy Rafetto, made two trips to Newfoundland, where they amassed a collection of more than 600 English-language songs largely from English and Irish communities on the Avalon Peninsula. The original reel-to-reel recordings were in the custody of the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive. When the Research Centre for Music, Media and Place was established in 2003 with a mandate to undertake “applied” projects that would respond to requests and needs in the province’s communities, it became clear that local singers—both amateur and professional—sought greater access to archival holdings in order to enrich their repertoires and enhance their knowledge of local culture and tradition. Hence, a website project was developed to seek permission from the Leach estate holder to digitize and present the Leach collection online. We hoped that the project would prove to be a stimulant to the still vibrant oral traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as a means for enabling dialogue between culture bearers and researchers. Our hopes were amply fulfilled. The project had an additional pedagogical motivation: to engage graduate students of folklore and ethnomusicology in archival material itself, training them in technological processes and issues of multimedia representation. In 2003-04 five students (including one Gaelic speaker), coordinated and supervised by folklorist Ian Brodie (then a Ph.D. student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland [MUN]), developed content for the site from the 1950 collection. Ian undertook the difficult task of designing the site, with close attention to both functionality and attractiveness. In 2005-06 a second group of three graduate students (coordinated and supervised by ethnomusicologist Kelly Best, then an M.A. student at MUN) updated and augmented the content of the site with the 1951 collection. The students digitized the original tapes, transcribed song texts or located Leach’s transcriptions, and combed the archives for interesting images, annotations, or other relevant research material. We were cognizant of multiple audiences. As mentioned, we knew that Newfoundland families and particularly singers were eager to access this archival collection, and that cumbersome academic annotations might be at best distractions and at worst obstacles to easy use. But we also wanted to create a site with documentation that academics would find useful. Additionally we were concerned about “protecting” the collection from illegal exploitation—third-party downloads particularly for commercial publication. This concern was much more “in the air” ten years ago and less so now as digital archives proliferate and largely foreclose on the need to commodify or sell the content. To address this perceived need to protect but at the same time enable singers to learn songs, we published full song texts but edited the field recordings, placing audio for only one or two stanzas of each song on the site. This arrangement also helped with an additional (self-imposed) mandate for accessibility: ten years ago, with broadband and high-speed internet less widespread—particularly in the outport communities from which these songs were originally collected—full-length, high-fidelity sound files would...
 
The Internet provides scholars with an ever-expanding variety of ways to interact with the public. Crowdsourcing, or putting one’s research tasks online and asking for help from volunteers, is perhaps one of the most rewarding things an academic can do. The assistance one gets is not only free labor, but it is also reassurance that others are interested in the things that we find fascinating. Crowdsourcing, as I learned from the Ukraine Folklore Audio project, also provides researchers with valuable information about the public. When I first developed the idea for this project, my goal was to have prospective users help me select which of the many types of folklore materials that I had recorded during my fieldwork in Ukraine should be processed for non-academic consumption. By choosing to transcribe and translate one type of audio file as opposed to another, the volunteers would reveal their interests while simultaneously doing some of the work needed for the publication of the texts. As my team and I worked with our contributors, we discovered that our site could also be used to glean information about the dynamics of heritage and ethnicity. Our volunteers came largely from the Ukrainian Diaspora, so we were crowdsourcing the audio files to a limited demographic rather than the public at large. We discovered that we could “experiment” with this group by adding select content to our site and watching volunteer reactions. Some of our results confirmed findings in other heritage situations while others were specific to Ukrainian culture and influenced by Ukraine’s political history. The understanding of the Diaspora that we gained through work on this site could not have been possible through other means. Ukrainian Folklore Audio (http://www.artsrn.ualberta.ca/folkaudio/)is a site where the public can listen to songs, stories, and beliefs recorded in Ukraine and among the Ukrainian Diaspora of Kazakhstan. Volunteers who wish to transcribe the recordings or translate them can “check out” the item that interests them and work on it. All completed transcriptions and translations are available for public use. Thus, when an item has been completely processed, the user can listen to a recording, see it written out in Ukrainian, and also view the parallel English translation. Anyone can use the site passively but, to avoid frivolous posts, we have required people submitting transcriptions and translations to register. Because of the registration requirement, we consider our site a modification of crowdsourcing and call what we do “groupsourcing.” The registration requirement also helps with quality control. Submissions made by a volunteer are visible only to that volunteer and to the person monitoring the site (usually me) and are posted for general viewing only after they have been checked for accuracy. Ukrainian Folklore Audio is an outgrowth of Ukrainian Folklore Sound Recordings (http://www.artsrn.ualberta.ca/UkraineAudio/). This is a research site developed with the help of Eric Zhang, a programmer then working at the Arts Resource Centre of the University of Alberta; Svitlana Kukharenko, a graduate student at the time; and Peter Holloway, a volunteer. The impetus behind the Ukrainian Folklore Sound Recordings site was my desire to easily find the information that I was seeking in the vast volume of recordings I had accumulated during my fieldwork. Like all folklorists, I faced the problem of dealing with a large volume of data, over 200 hours of sound in my case. Transcription of sound recordings—the standard way of processing field data—if done digitally, does produce files that can be searched. The problem with transcription is that it is an enormously time-consuming process and, once a sound file is converted into text, the expressive qualities of speech such as intonation, inflection, and volume are lost. Our solution was to index the sound files. We noted the time in a recording when a particular topic was being discussed. There were a limited number of topics since I was working on family rituals dealing with birth, marriage, and death. With the help of Zhang, we developed a program that linked each identified topic to the point in each sound file where the particular topic arose. Thus, if one clicks on a topic such...
 
Three intermingling trends in late modern folk music.
Ideals in different but overlapping contemporary folk song milieus.
This article discusses some expressions and elements of orality and aurality in late modern society, and the roles, functions, and limitations of these expressions. Traditional song of different cultural origin has been the subject of much analysis and scholarship within the areas of orality studies, ballad studies, and several other related fields. However, songs and singing are in many cases analyzed chiefly as verbal art and verbal performance, while less attention is given to the closely interwoven texture of words, music, rhythm, and timbre, or to the balance between verbal and music-related sides of orality. I think more frequent discussions between scholars within the disciplines of folkloristics, literature, linguistics, and ethnomusicology might be fruitful. Initiatives of this kind are continuously taken in conferences and publications, and a couple of interesting texts on musical aspects have recently been published in Oral Tradition itself. My own discipline is ethnomusicology, and my topic is traditional singing (or vocal folk music) in a Northern European and especially Swedish/Scandinavian context, viewed as a contemporary cultural—verbal and musical—expression, and partly as an established sub-genre within the genre or field that is today labeled "folk music" or "folk and world music." There are reasons to ask, in the early twenty-first century, what the consequences are for oral-derived singing and music-making in an era of accelerating professionalization, institutionalization, and formalization. Which elements and expressions of orality function in a cultural environment characterized by fast changes, access to innumerable cultural items, and music as a mediatized, processed, and often digitized phenomenon? And what are the consequences for affinity-centered and long-term qualities of oral tradition, such as learning songs across the kitchen table and performing and developing one's repertory during a lifetime? This essay is based on my studies of the Swedish/Scandinavian contemporary folk music scene with some references to earlier periods of time and other European/Western music cultures. It is my belief that, despite these geographic and cultural limitations, several of my observations are relevant in the wider context of the tension fieldstraditional—revival—post-revival as well as oral/aural—literate/mediated in a transnational and transcultural perspective. The larger research project with which the current essay is associated focuses on music-making as an activity and meaning-making phenomenon at small-scale events, where the modes of performance may shift to and fro between the participatory and the presentational. This approach is in contrast to the strongly dominant discourse on music—and other cultural expressions—as products that are made by the few for the reception and consumption of the many. Thus the project includes what might be called contemporary expressions of oral/aural tradition in late modern mediatized society. Traditional singing in the Scandinavian cultural area includes ballads and other narrative songs, lyric songs, jocular songs, lullabies, work songs, hymns and religious songs, and short ditties of several kinds. The vocal tradition also comprehends two wordless types: the one is diddled dance tunes and the other is herding calls that are performed outdoors with the use of a special voice technique. Both of these wordless types, as well as singing, have played an important role in the establishment of vocal folk music as a "genre" in the post-revival sense. Diddling, or trall, in the Scandinavian/Nordic area shows some likeness to the Celtic and British tradition of "mouth music." Non-semantic syllables are used in a rhythmical fashion that imitates the movements of the bow on the strings of a fiddle. The technique has been used for the accompaniment of dancers as well as for transmission of tunes; today it is performed as dance music or at concerts. Herding calls, which likewise are used at concerts and in musical arrangements, have been performed chiefly by women (and children) since cattle herding belonged to the feminine sphere of earlier rural society as a result of the gendered division of labor. There is more documentation of men having sung, for example, military songs or shanties and of women having sung ballads and lullabies, but except for the calling there are no formal gendered or age-related restrictions concerning repertory. Besides oral transmission, song...
 
The murder of Maria Marten by her lover, William Corder, in May 1827 became the object of intense public interest and frenzied media attention immediately upon the discovery of the body eleven months later in the subsequently notorious “red barn” where he had buried her. While popular interest persisted much longer—and indeed continues—the case itself culminated with Corder’s trial and execution by public hanging in August 1828 and prompted the publication of no fewer than nine different broadside ballads—sensational journalistic accounts in the form of songs printed on a single sheet and sold cheaply at stalls or by itinerant balladmongers. Two of these songs offer significant insights into the nature of oral tradition; having been printed, sold, sung, remembered, and passed on by word of mouth for many decades, they have subsequently been recorded from country singers, starting with the first great wave of folksong collection in the decades immediately prior to the First World War and continuing on into the 1990s. This situation does not represent the “pure” oral tradition sometimes encountered in the field, as the songs were composed in writing and initially diffused in print, and some of the singers were undoubtedly literate, but this interlacing of literate and oral transmission has been the norm in English folk tradition throughout its recorded history. Juxtaposing the words of the songs as recorded from singing with the texts of the originals as published permits us to determine exactly what the processes of memorization, performance from memory, and voice-to-ear transmission can do over time to verbal narrative material originally in the form of texts. Of those two songs, “The Murder of Maria Marten” (Roud 215), with issues from at least six London printers, several more from the provinces, and yet others without imprint, was by far the more successful. Its preeminent market penetration is confirmed by the score or more recordings of the song, about half with texts, from folk tradition. In 1979 the versions of this song that were known at that time were analyzed by Flemming Andersen and myself (1979); however, the song now merits revisiting in the light of new versions recovered and new insights established in the interim. In the meantime, the present study explores the evolution of the other “red barn” ballad to make it into oral tradition, “The Suffolk Tragedy” (Roud 18814). In quantitative terms its impact has been far less impressive—three broadside printings and four singers—but by another criterion, geographical diffusion, it did much better, with two of those four singers being natives of New South Wales. In focusing mainly on these Australian variants, this study continues and completes (with occasional retrospective corrections) an earlier study of the transmission of “The Suffolk Tragedy” presented in this journal (Pettitt 2009) but for reasons of space restricted originally to the longer of the two English versions. It is also an opportunity more generally to draw attention to the significance of its Australian diaspora for the study of English folksong, a significance which is founded on the strength of Australian tradition, ensured by the energy and professionalism of the folklorists who recorded it, and enabled both by their generosity in sharing their material and by the efficiency and courtesy of the National Library of Australia in respectively curating and facilitating access to its holdings. It will not be a major factor in what follows, but is a necessary, final setting of the scene to insist that the composition of the original version of “The Suffolk Tragedy” (as with all the other ballads on the case) will have involved more than merely versifying the available information. The news broadsides, not least in the crime-and-execution category, were in the business—later taken over by what we now call the tabloid press—of sensationalizing and emotionalizing the simple facts of criminal cases to which the regular newspapers of the time generally restricted themselves. When possible, the main protagonist of the narrative was not the victim of the crime, but its perpetrator, who now, arrested, tried, and condemned, faced the awful consequences of his actions. Furthermore, the Maria Marten case, as revealed in court and reported...
 
Hundreds of hours of ethnographic field recordings and their associated oral tradition were destined to be lost until the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC, http://paradisec.org.au) was established in 2003 to digitize and curate this legacy made by Australian academic researchers since the 1960s (Barwick and Thieberger 2006; Thieberger and Barwick 2012). These recordings in the languages of the region around Australia (broadly speaking, an area that includes Indonesia, Papua New Guinea [PNG], and the Pacific Islands) have high cultural value and are often the only records in these languages. Many languages in this region are spoken by few people and are in danger of being lost because of the pressure from neighboring languages or metropolitan languages such as Indonesian, Tok Pisin, English, or French, and so the records made a generation or more ago become all the more valuable. However, despite their unique heritage value, these recordings were not eligible to be preserved or curated by any existing Australian collecting institution. A group of linguists and musicologists planned PARADISEC and sought advice from relevant agencies (in particular from the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive). This advice was particularly valuable in allowing us to determine appropriate metadata standards (we use Dublin Core and Open Archives Initiative metadata terms as a subset of our catalog’s metadata) and to understand the more hands-on requirements of cleaning and repairing moldy or damaged analog tapes. We then applied for and received infrastructure funding from the Australian Research Council. With a grant that was to last for just one year, we had to build a successful archive prototype that could then attract further funds. Over the decade during which it has been running, PARADISEC has digitized several thousand hours of analog recordings in three ingestion units based at each of the participating universities: the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian National University. We have also broadened our scope to include any relevant material that needs preservation, regardless of the geographic area it represents or the state of endangerment of the languages involved. In 2011 we initiated an online survey to locate further endangered analog collections and to work with their custodians in order to find funds to digitize and curate them before they are lost. The contents of the various collections range from hundreds of recordings on a particular language made in the course of extensive fieldwork all the way through to isolated, short examples recorded opportunistically in a language. The records themselves range from narratives through to sung, chanted, and spoken performances as well as instrumental music. The collections from the 1960s and 1970s typically represent the work of deceased or retired scholars, so there is usually limited contextual information to include in the catalog. Occasionally there are handwritten transcripts of these recordings that we have included as scanned TIF or PDF files. These legacy collections include: Professor Stephen Wurm’s several hundred tapes, with 120 Solomon Islands tapes and transcripts/fieldnotes from the 1970s (some of which have been used in later research by Åshild Næss [2006]); the ethnographer Roderic Lacey’s collection of 118 tapes from the early 1970s used as the basis for his work on “Oral Traditions as History: An Exploration of Oral Sources among the Enga of the New Guinea Highlands”; James Weiner’s collection of some 100 cassettes in the Foi language of Highlands PNG, the basis for his work on poetics in the language; Arthur Capell’s 114 tapes from the Pacific and PNG from the 1950s (and 30 archive boxes of fieldnotes of which we have placed 14,000 page images online); Bert Voorhoeve’s 180 tapes from West Papua (mainly in Asmat) from the late 1960s; and Tom Dutton’s 295 PNG tapes from the 1970s. Currently in our accession queue is a collection of recordings made by the anthropologist Ted Schwartz during his fieldwork with Margaret Mead on Manus island in the 1950s. PARADISEC is making information available in an ethically appropriate way, and we have established working relationships with agencies in our region such as the...
 
Some children still learn the skills attached to the traditional string games. Image reproduced (with permission) from http:// ctac.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/objects/D00000036.htm.
A game called "The Greatest" that involves a lot of physical challenges. Image reproduced (with permission) from http://ctac.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/objects/D00000038.htm.
Playing a clapping game "Miss Moo." Image r e p r o d u c e d ( w i t h p e r m i s s i o n ) f r o m h t t p : / / ctac.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/objects/D00000027.htm.
A Fairy Couch. Image reproduced (with permission) from http://ctac.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/objects/D00000007.htm.
Playing Baby's Cradle on the monkey bars. Image reproduced (with permission) from http://ctac.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/objects/ D00000003.htm.
The oral traditions of children are rich and varied, and encompass the songs, chants, rhymes, stories, riddles, insults, and lore of the playground. In Australia, though the collection of children’s folklore dates from the nineteenth century, it was not until the 1950s that this field of inquiry attracted serious scholarly attention. Since then, there has been an increasingly vigorous interest in the collection and electronic recording of Australian children’s verbal and performative play culture by academics, folklorists, and major collecting institutions (Davey 2011; Factor 2011; Darian-Smith 2012). Between 2007 and 2011, the Childhood, Tradition and Change research project conducted the largest nation-wide study of children’s games and playground culture to date, resulting in a substantial archive of visual, oral, and written data. A significant amount of this research data is available on an open-access website (http://ctac.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/index.html), where it has much to offer with respect to scholarly and community interest in exploring the dynamic heritage of Australian children’s play. The Childhood, Tradition and Change project was funded by the Australian Research Council and led by a team of academic researchers in collaboration with two internationally acclaimed public repositories of Australian children’s folklore. The National Library of Australia’s Oral History and Folklore Collection (http://www.nla.gov.au/fishtrout/aus_children.html) has an extensive collection of oral recordings—undertaken mainly with adults—documenting the chants, rhymes, and games of childhood, and providing information about play stretching back to the early twentieth century. The Australian Children’s Folklore Collection at Museum Victoria (http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/australian-childrens-folklore-collection/) has over 10,000 documents, recordings, and artifacts relating to children’s play and oral traditions, and its significance has been recognized through its listing on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register. The visual, textual, and aural documentation, as well as some 3D objects gathered from across Australia for the Childhood, Tradition and Change research project have been deposited in the separate collections of the National Library of Australia and Museum Victoria, where they supplement existing holdings on children’s culture. This material includes descriptions of nearly 400 different games and play activities, classified into 38 different categories; oral interviews with school principals, teachers, parents, and children; video and sound recordings of children describing and engaging in play; spatial play-maps of school playgrounds; and other relevant documentation. Bona fide researchers may apply to either institution for access to this data, which is for the most part in digital format. However, compliance with privacy legislation that protects the rights of children beyond the life of the project means that each application must be considered with reference to access conditions set by the parents or guardians of children who participated in the research (Darian-Smith and Henningham 2012). Much of the raw data from the Childhood, Tradition and Change project was entered into a relational comprehensive database for further analysis by the research team but cannot be made available within the public domain. Nevertheless, it was always intended that the study would generate open-access resources for other scholars of play and the wider community. To address the necessary restraints set by the ethical and legal conditions under which the research was conducted, technology developed by the eScholarship Research Centre at the University of Melbourne was utilized to construct a de-identified and simplified relational database of selected textual and visual materials on play that is open to the public. This public database can be accessed via the Childhood, Tradition and Change website’s homepage that welcomes viewers to the site and lists categories of play for immediate exploration by users. Tabs titled “About,” “Games and Play,” “Gallery,” and “Resources” provide detailed textual and visual information on the background and final report of the research (http://ctac.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/objects/project-pubs/FinalReport.pdf), access to searchable data on individual games, and a guide to further resources in the international field of playlore. One of the aims of the Childhood, Tradition and Change project was to trace the evolution of children’s play in...
 
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