Folk Poetics: A Sociosemiotic Study of Yoruba Trickster Tales

Folk Poetics: A Sociosemiotic Study of Yoruba Trickster Tales

Folk Poetics: A Sociosemiotic Study of Yoruba Trickster Tales

Folk Poetics: A Sociosemiotic Study of Yoruba Trickster Tales

Synopsis

Of all the different sub-genres of oral prose fiction among the Yoruba of Nigeria, the trickster tale is the most popular, especially among the nonruling stratum of society. Sekoni describes and explains literally what makes the trickster tale a trickster tale. The focus is to establish the phenomenology of the trickster tale discourse from a sociosemiotic perspective. More specifically, Sekoni attempts to investigate the sociological and narratological conditions that govern the formation, transformation, and persistence of the trickster tale primarily among the Yoruba masses and secondarily among contemporary Yoruba authors writing in English.

Excerpt

Of all the different subgenres of oral prose fiction among the Yoruba, the trickster narrative mode is the most popular, especially among the nonruling stratum of the society, those otherwise commonly referred to as the folks. This study is an attempt to describe and explain literally what makes the trickster tale a trickster tale. The focus is to establish the phenomenology of the trickster tale discourse from a sociosemiotic perspective. More specifically, the study attempts to investigate the sociological and "narratological" conditions that govern the formation, transformation, and persistence of the trickster tale discourse, primarily among the Yoruba folks and secondarily among contemporary Yoruba authors writing in English.

The tales used for illustration in this study are part of a larger corpus of stories collected by the author across the different Yoruba dialectal groups between 1977 and 1982. In consonance with my interest in the basic elements of fictive discourse aesthetics, most of the tales were deliberately collected from "folk" or "ordinary" narrators. No effort was made to look for or elicit tales told by unusually gifted narrators. I strongly believe that the minimalist or horizontalist view of aesthetics adapted in this study is a necessary and enabling strategy for the emphasis in this study on the sociosemiotic dynamics of the trickster tale as a community means of self-study from the perspective of social . . .

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