New Directions in Oral Theory

New Directions in Oral Theory

New Directions in Oral Theory

New Directions in Oral Theory

Synopsis

"In this volume, a group of leading classicists and medievalists interrogates the complex ways in which oral and literate culture intersect with and shape one another's contours. Rejecting the view that orality and literacy are mutually exclusive and contradictory cultural forces, these essays focus on the mix of oral and literate poetics discoverable in a wide range of ancient and medieval texts. In the explorations of texts produced in cultures situated at various points along the oral-literate continuum, the authors reveal how deeply and inextricably intertwined orality and literacy are and they further demonstrate just how supple and powerful an interpretive tool contemporary oral theory is." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Mark C. Amodio

The theory of oral-formulaic composition first articulated by Milman Parry and later refined and developed by Albert Bates Lord during his long and remarkably productive scholarly career has played a prominent role in classical studies since the early decades of the last century, and it has played an equally important role in medieval studies for what is now nearly fifty years. From its early and highly influential articulations onwards, this theory, known more familiarly as the Parry-Lord theory, helped establish the terms of inquiry for what today has become the discipline of oral studies, a vibrant field of investigation that encompasses the verbal art produced by a great many cultures from antiquity to the present day. Because the Parry-Lord theory challenged a great many closely held and largely unexamined assumptions about the production, dissemination, and reception of works of verbal art in pre-literate and literate cultures, it engendered strong reactions, among both those who accepted its premises and those who rejected them. During the late 1970s and throughout much of the 1980s, the positions of oralists and non-oralists became more and more firmly entrenched, with oralists somewhat paradoxically stressing the orality of many ancient and medieval works that survive only as texts and non-oralists pointing to the textuality of the very same works, and the theory seemed headed for an impasse. But over the

Parry’s writings are collected in A. Parry, Making of Homeric Verse; a comprehensive bibliography of Lord’s writings can be found in the obituary Foley wrote in jaf. To the thorough list Foley offers we can now add Lord, Singer Resumes the Tale, a volume that was published several years after Foley’s obituary of Lord appeared.

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