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					         Chapter 6
Oral Memory, The Story Line and
       Characterization
            The Primacy of the Story Line

• Many genres of verbal art:
   – Lyric
   – Narrative
   – Descriptive
   – Discourse
   – Oratory
   – Drama
   – Philosophical
   – Scientific Works
   ** Genre most studied in terms of orality-literacy shift has
      been NARATIVE**
          The Primacy of the Story Line

• Many developments help to determine the
  formation of narrative over the years, such as:

  – Changing political organization

  – Religious development

  – Intercultural exchanges

  – Developments in other verbal genres
            The Primacy of the Story Line

• Narrative is a major genre of verbal art
• It is used by cultures ranging from primary oral into
    highly literate and electronic
•   Narrative underlies many other art forms

• Even in a science class narrative can be seen
     - students in a science lab must “write up” reports
       on their experiments
           The Primacy of the Story Line

• Narrative is also seen behind proverbs, aphorisms,
  philosophical speculation, and religious ritual
   -all of these need narrative to stay alive

• Lyric Poetry is repeated until memorized in a story
  like fashion

• Knowledge and discourse come out of experience,
  to share that experience and keep accounts of it, it
  must be shared
              Example of Lyric Poem
May Love Ever Protect

May Love ever protect
this heart he gave to you, his to command,
and, on the other hand,
may Mercy beg you to remember me,
because before I go                            5
too far away from all your present worth
the thought I will return
to you once more already comforts me.
God! Not for long shall I remain away,
judging by what I see,                         10
for often this my mind
will turn right back to wonder on your face:
therefore, in both my journey and my stay,
O gentle lady, please remember me.
             Narrative and Oral Cultures
• In certain ways narrative may be more functional in
    primary oral cultures
•   Since knowledge cannot be managed in elaborate
    and abstract categories
       -use stories of human action to store, organize,
        and communicate much of what they know
       -come up with substantial narratives such as:
           *Trojan wars among Greeks
           *Coyote stories among Native Americans
           *Anansi (spider) stories in Belize, Caribbean,
                and some African heritages
                                    Anansi Spider Story
                                          Why Anansi Has Eight Thin Legs


•   Once upon a time, there lived a spider named Anansi. Anansi's wife was a very good cook. But always, Anansi loved
    to taste the food that others in the village made for themselves and for their families.
•   One day, he stopped by Rabbit's house. Rabbit was his good friend.
•   "There are greens in your pot," cried Anansi excitedly. Anansi loved greens.
•   "They are not quite done," said Rabbit. "But they will be soon. Stay and eat with me."
•   "I would love to, Rabbit, but I have some things to do," Anansi said hurriedly. If he waited at Rabbit's house, Rabbit
    would certainly give him jobs to do. "I know," said Anansi. "I'll spin a web. I'll tie one end around my leg and one
    end to your pot. When the greens are done, tug on the web, and I'll come running!"
•   Rabbit thought that was a great idea. And so it was done.
•   "I smell beans," Anansi sniffed excitedly as he ambled along. "Delicious beans, cooking in a pot."
•   "Come eat our beans with us," cried the monkeys. "They are almost done."
•   "I would love to Father Monkey," said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around
    his leg, and one end tied to the big bean pot.
•   Father Monkey thought that was a great idea. All his children thought so, too. And so it was done.
•   "I smell sweet potatoes," Anansi sniffed happily as he ambled along. "Sweet potatoes and honey, I do believe!"
•   "Anansi," called his friend Hog. "My pot is full of sweet potatoes and honey! Come share my food with me."
•   "I would love to," said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around his leg, and
    one end tied to the sweet potato pot.
•   His friend Hog thought that was a great idea. And so it was done.
•   By the time Anansi arrived at the river, he had one web tied to each of his eight legs.
•   "This was a wonderful idea," Anansi told himself proudly. "I wonder whose pot will be ready first?"
•   Just then, Anansi felt a tug at his leg. "Ah," said Anansi. "That is the web string tied to Rabbit's greens." He felt
    another. And another. Anansi was pulled three ways at once.
•   "Oh dear," said Anansi as he felt the fourth web string pull.

    Just then, he felt the fifth web string tug. And the sixth. And the seventh. And the eighth. Anansi was pulled this
    way and that way, as everyone pulled on the web strings at once. His legs were pulled thinner and thinner. Anansi
    rolled quickly into the river. When all the webs had washed away, Anansi pulled himself painfully up on shore.
•   "Oh my, oh my," sighed Anansi. "Perhaps that was not such a good idea after all."
•   To this day, Anansi the Spider has eight very thin legs. And he never got any food that day at all.
               Narrative and Oral Cultures

• Because narratives can be more durable over time they are
  essential to oral cultures.
• Oration is not as durable
    - It is not normally repeated
    - Occurs to address a particular event/situation and since
          nothing is written down it is over when speaker is finished
          and easily disappears
• In a writing culture, text physically bonds whatever it contains
  and make it retrievable for future reference
• Because no writing in oral cultures Narrative is best form
  among other genres to capture and save ideas, thoughts,
  rituals, etc.

				
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posted:10/8/2011
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