Special Issue "The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787). This special issue belongs to the section "Cultural Studies & Critical Theory in the Humanities".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2017) | Viewed by 44919

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dan Ben-Amos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Professor of Folklore & Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 835 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305, USA
Interests: Jewish folklore; African folklore; prose narrative; proverbs; theories of myth as well as structural analysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fifty four years ago, Stith Thompson published his article "The Challenge of Folklore" (PMLA 79, no.4 (1964), 357-365) in which he described in broad terms the challenge of folklore to civilization in history and in modernity. In the last fifty years since then, folklore scholarship expanded by leaps and bounds, exploring new directions, new theories, new territories and offering thereby challenging perspectives for the humanities.

Prof. Dan Ben-Amos
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (19 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Introduction to the Special Issue “The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10010018 - 20 Jan 2021
Viewed by 816
Abstract
Five and a half decades ago, when Stith Thompson was the doyen of American folklore studies, he published his essay “The Challenge of Folklore” in PMLA, a leading journal of the Humanities (Thompson 1964) [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)

Research

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Article
Folklore of the Arab World1
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030067 - 09 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1685
Abstract
Four major stages in the development of interest in folklore in the Arab World may be designated. A neglected (or suppressed) facet of Arab life is the centrality of the khâl. An examination of the impact this familial character has on the [...] Read more.
Four major stages in the development of interest in folklore in the Arab World may be designated. A neglected (or suppressed) facet of Arab life is the centrality of the khâl. An examination of the impact this familial character has on the social structure of the group regardless of ethnicity and religion is absent. (1) Is the early Islamic period and how religious dogma regarded negatively cultural expressions of polytheism? (2) The age of the spread of Islam and the Arabic language. Religious narratives (mostly “exempla”) dominated the Arab Islamic scene. (3) Is the short-llived era of the emergence of an ephemeral trend towards objectivity and of growth of interest in indigenous culture? In this regard the Basrite Al-Jâẖiẕ (9th C. A.D.) is to be acknowledged as the first folklorist; he treated genuine folklore occurrences and sought to verify their veracity through fieldwork. (4) This stage came in the 1950s when literary scholars became aware of "folklore" as an academic discipline in the West; the attention westerners paid the Arabian Nights triggered interest in that work among some Arab scholars. Along with that European interest, ethnocentric hypotheses about lack of creativity among Semitic groups flourished. Regrettably, these wayward views still find supporters today. With political changes and the emergence of populism, folk groups and their culture varieties acquired special importance. Conflict between religious circles and nonreligious intellectuals over the use of terms turâth/ma’thûr (legacy/Tradition), labels previously reserved for religious heritage. This conflict seems to have abated. Currently, especially in the newly independent Arab Gulf states, “folklore” is proudly held to be a depository of a nation’s memory, history, ‘soul’, and character. However, it should be born in mind that while folklore cultivates positive principles, it also harbors destructive values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Folklore and the Internet: The Challenge of an Ephemeral Landscape1
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020050 - 21 May 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3201
Abstract
Through the lens of memetic folk humor, this essay examines the slippery, ephemeral nature of hybridized forms of contemporary digital folklore. In doing so, it is argued that scholars should not be distracted by the breakneck speed in which expressive materials proliferate and [...] Read more.
Through the lens of memetic folk humor, this essay examines the slippery, ephemeral nature of hybridized forms of contemporary digital folklore. In doing so, it is argued that scholars should not be distracted by the breakneck speed in which expressive materials proliferate and then dissipate but should instead focus on the overarching ways that popular culture and current news events infiltrate digital folk culture in the formation of individuals' cultural inventories. The process of transmission and variation that shapes the resulting hybridized folklore requires greater scrutiny and contextualization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
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Article
The Riddle: Form and Performance
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020049 - 18 May 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1951
Abstract
The article concentrates on the true or the ordinary riddle, which is the best-known of the old riddles. True riddles consist of two parts, one functioning as a question, the other as an answer. In riddling the answerer or riddlee tries to find [...] Read more.
The article concentrates on the true or the ordinary riddle, which is the best-known of the old riddles. True riddles consist of two parts, one functioning as a question, the other as an answer. In riddling the answerer or riddlee tries to find an acceptable answer to the question. Sometimes riddlees are deliberately misled because the “right” answer is completely unexpected. Riddles are “texts” only in archives and publications; in the field, they are always oral lore closely tied to their performing context. Study of social and cultural contexts is a new part of riddle research. Field researchers’ studies and findings are important. The article includes riddle definitions and analysis of subjects, metaphors and formulae of riddles as well as the functions of riddling. New challenges are the driving force behind research. I attempt to find something new in my material. New for me has been discovering the humour in riddles. Reading dozens and even hundreds of riddle variants begins to give me some idea of the fun and humour inherent in riddles. There are still questions in riddle materials waiting to be asked; it is always possible to discover something new. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Folklore in Antiquity
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020047 - 16 May 2018
Viewed by 2001
Abstract
Folklore exists in all human groups, small and big. Since early modernity, scholars have provided various definitions of the phenomenon, but earlier texts may also reveal awareness and reflection on the specific character folklore. In this short article, we wish to explore and [...] Read more.
Folklore exists in all human groups, small and big. Since early modernity, scholars have provided various definitions of the phenomenon, but earlier texts may also reveal awareness and reflection on the specific character folklore. In this short article, we wish to explore and look into the various definitions and characterizations of folklore given by ancient writers from various times and cultures. We will try to draw a cultural map of awareness to the phenomenon of folklore in ancient Near-Eastern texts, Greco-Roman culture, the Hebrew Bible, Early Christianity and Rabbinic literature. The main questions we wish do deal with are where and if we can find explicit mention of folklore; which folk genres are dominant in ancient writings and what was the social context of ancient folklore? That is to say, whom those text integrated in social frameworks, enabling their users to gain power or to undermine existing cultural, theological and social structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Secrets of the Extraordinary Ordinary: The Revelations of Folklore and Anthropology
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020046 - 11 May 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1975
Abstract
The basic principle of folklore is constant—unveiling the hidden riches within the ordinary things of everyday life: a fine contribution to, and coordination with, the humanities. Examples are the study of the oral/orality; life stories of the obscure; practices of ‘hidden’ amateur musicians, [...] Read more.
The basic principle of folklore is constant—unveiling the hidden riches within the ordinary things of everyday life: a fine contribution to, and coordination with, the humanities. Examples are the study of the oral/orality; life stories of the obscure; practices of ‘hidden’ amateur musicians, studied ethnographically rather than through written scores or the ‘great’ composers; research by scholars outside the formal institutions of higher learning. An important new topic now being embarked on, in a scattered way, by folklorists and anthropologists, is the area known by such terms as ‘noetics’, ‘psychic studies’, ‘heightened/altered consciousness’, ‘the shared mind’, and the like. With a long history (too often disregarded in conventional scholarship) in antiquity, the middle ages, and eastern philosophies, this concerns such topics as dreaming; contact with and from the dead; experiencing music; and new, popularly but not academically acclaimed, perspectives on consciousness within innovative scientific thinking. Taking such studies further and, in particular, as folklorists and anthropologist have the capacity and interest to do, consolidating them into a new and fully recognized field of study together with linking this with endeavors across the disciplines, scientific as well as humanistic, will be of the greatest benefit for the humanities as a whole. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Among the PALMs1
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020044 - 10 May 2018
Viewed by 1758
Abstract
Born out of the convergence of intellectual traditions and owning a borrowing capacity analogous to the one that engenders creole languages, the study of folklore, or folkloristics, claims the right to adapt and remodel political, psychological, and anthropological insights, not only for itself [...] Read more.
Born out of the convergence of intellectual traditions and owning a borrowing capacity analogous to the one that engenders creole languages, the study of folklore, or folkloristics, claims the right to adapt and remodel political, psychological, and anthropological insights, not only for itself but for the humanities disciplines of philosophy, art, literature, and music (the “PALM” disciplines). Performance-based folkloristics looks like a new blend, or network, of elements from several of those. What looks like poaching, which is a common practice for folksong and folk narrative, can be examined in the PALM disciplines under names like intertextuality and plagiarism. Nation-oriented traditions of folklore study have convergence, borrowing, and remodeling in their history which are also discoverable in other disciplines. Linguistic and cultural creolization—what happens when people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds are forced together to learn from one another—lies at the center of folklore; its study opens paths for research in all humanities fields. The study of folklore, while remaining marginal in universities, is undergoing a self-transformation which should lead to the acceptance of its methods and findings in the PALM disciplines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Folklore in China: Past, Present, and Challenges
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020035 - 13 Apr 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2627
Abstract
This article first outlines the long history of folklore collection in China, and then describes the disciplinary development in the 20th century. In Section 3, it presents the current situation in terms of disciplinary infrastructure, development, contribution, and challenge, with a focus on [...] Read more.
This article first outlines the long history of folklore collection in China, and then describes the disciplinary development in the 20th century. In Section 3, it presents the current situation in terms of disciplinary infrastructure, development, contribution, and challenge, with a focus on the recent practice of safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. These accounts are largely based on the views of the Chinese folklorists. In the final section, this article discusses the issues of cultural continuity, integration, and self-healing mechanisms in Chinese culture by putting Chinese folkloristics in a historical and world perspective. This paper suggests that, to understand Chinese folklore and culture, one must be aware of the most basic differences between Chinese fundamental beliefs and values and those of theWest, and that Chinese folklore and folkloristics present new challenges to the current paradigms put forward in the post-colonial, post-modern, and imperial ideologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
African Oral Literature and the Humanities: Challenges and Prospects
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020030 - 22 Mar 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3332
Abstract
This paper examines the origin, evolution and emergence of folklore (oral literature) as an academic discipline in Africa and its place in the humanities. It draws attention to the richness of indigenous knowledge contained in oral literature and demonstrates how the ethical and [...] Read more.
This paper examines the origin, evolution and emergence of folklore (oral literature) as an academic discipline in Africa and its place in the humanities. It draws attention to the richness of indigenous knowledge contained in oral literature and demonstrates how the ethical and moral gap in the existing educational system can be filled by the moral precepts embedded in oral literature. The paper argues that African oral literature has not received the attention it deserves among other disciplines of the humanities in institutions of higher learning in Africa. It concludes that any discussion on African literature will be incomplete, and indeed irrelevant, if it does not equally give adequate attention to the oral literature of the African people. As a result, a new curriculum and pedagogy must be designed to give pride of place to folklore and oral literature as the best repository of our cultural norms and values especially in African tertiary institutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
The Humanistic Value of Proverbs in Sociopolitical Discourse
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010028 - 19 Mar 2018
Viewed by 2293
Abstract
Proverbs as strategic signs for recurrent situations have long played a significant communicative role in political rhetoric. Folk proverbs as well as Bible proverbs appear as expressions of wisdom and common sense, adding authority and didacticism to the multifaceted aspects of sociopolitical discourse. [...] Read more.
Proverbs as strategic signs for recurrent situations have long played a significant communicative role in political rhetoric. Folk proverbs as well as Bible proverbs appear as expressions of wisdom and common sense, adding authority and didacticism to the multifaceted aspects of sociopolitical discourse. Some proverbs like the golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) or “It takes a village to raise a child” can function as traditional leitmotifs while other well-known proverbs might be changed into anti-proverbs to express innovative insights. The moralistic, evaluative, and argumentative employment of proverbs can be seen in the letters, speeches and writings by Lord Chesterfield, Abigail Adams, and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century. Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Elisabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony stand out in their use of proverbs for civil and women’s rights during the nineteenth century. This effective preoccupation with proverbs for sociopolitical improvements can also be observed in the impressive oratory of Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Bernie Sanders in the modern age. The ubiquitous proverbs underscore various political messages and add metaphorical as well as folkloric expressiveness to the worldview that social reformers and politicians wish to communicate. As commonly held beliefs the proverbs clearly bring humanistic values to political communications as they argue for an improved world order. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
The Challenge of American Folklore to the Humanities
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010017 - 17 Feb 2018
Viewed by 3534
Abstract
American Folklore consists of traditional knowledge and cultural practices engaged by inhabitants of the United States below Canada and above Mexico. American folklorists were influenced by nineteenth-century European humanistic scholarship that identified in traditional stories, songs, and speech among lower class peasants an [...] Read more.
American Folklore consists of traditional knowledge and cultural practices engaged by inhabitants of the United States below Canada and above Mexico. American folklorists were influenced by nineteenth-century European humanistic scholarship that identified in traditional stories, songs, and speech among lower class peasants an artistic quality and claim to cultural nationalism. The United States, however, appeared to lack a peasant class and shared racial and ethnic stock associated in European perceptions with the production of folklore. The United States was a relatively young nation, compared to the ancient legacies of European kingdoms, and geographically the country’s boundaries had moved since its inception to include an assortment of landscapes and peoples. Popularly, folklore in the United States is rhetorically used to refer to the veracity, and significance, of cultural knowledge in an uncertain, rapidly changing, individualistic society. It frequently refers to the expressions of this knowledge in story, song, speech, custom, and craft as meaningful for what it conveys and enacts about tradition in a future-oriented country. The essay provides the argument that folklore studies in the United States challenge Euro-centered humanistic legacies by emphasizing patterns associated with the American experience that are (1) democratic, (2) vernacular, and (3) incipient. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
The Challenge of Folklore to Medieval Studies
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010015 - 07 Feb 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2285
Abstract
When folklore began to emerge as a valid expression of a people during the early stages of national romanticism, it did so alongside texts and artifacts from the Middle Ages. The fields of folklore and medieval studies were hardly to be distinguished at [...] Read more.
When folklore began to emerge as a valid expression of a people during the early stages of national romanticism, it did so alongside texts and artifacts from the Middle Ages. The fields of folklore and medieval studies were hardly to be distinguished at that time, and it was only as folklore began to develop its own methodology (actually analogous to medieval textual studies) during the nineteenth century that the fields were distinguished. During the 1970s, however, folklore adopted a wholly new paradigm (the “performance turn”), regarding folklore as process rather than static artifact. It is here that folklore offers a challenge for medieval studies, namely to understand better the oral background to all medieval materials and the cultural competence that underlay their uses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Myth
by
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010014 - 30 Jan 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3877
Abstract
Myth has become a fundamental frame of reference for Western thinking. This paper explores the term and category “myth” from the perspective of folklore studies, with concern for the use of myth as a tool in research. The ways in which myth has [...] Read more.
Myth has become a fundamental frame of reference for Western thinking. This paper explores the term and category “myth” from the perspective of folklore studies, with concern for the use of myth as a tool in research. The ways in which myth has been used in both academic and popular discourses are discussed. These are viewed in a historical perspective against the backdrop of the origins of the modern term. Attention is given to how historical patterns of use have encoded “myth” with evaluative stance-taking, building an opposition of “us” versus “them” into myth as something “other people” have, in contrast to us, who know better. Discussion then turns to approaching myth as a type of story. The consequences of such a definition are explored in terms of what it does or does not include; the question of whether, as has often been supposed, myth is a text-type genre, is also considered. Discussion advances to aesthetic evaluation at the root of modern discussions of myth and how this background informs the inclination to identify myth as a type of story on the one hand while inhibiting the extension of the concept to, for example, historical events or theories about the world or its origins, on the other. Approaching myth as a type of modeling system is briefly reviewed—an approach that can be coupled to viewing myth as a type of story. Finally, discussion turns to the more recent trend of approaching mythology through mythic discourse, and the consequences as well as the benefits of such an approach for understanding myth in society or religion. There are many different ways to define myth. The present article explores how different approaches are linked to one another and have been shaped over time, how our definition of myth and the way we frame the concept shape our thinking, and can, in remarkably subtle ways, inhibit the reflexive application of the concept as a tool to better understand ourselves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Folklore and Sociolinguistics
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010009 - 22 Jan 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2558
Abstract
Folklore and sociolinguistics exist in a symbiotic relationship; more than that, at points—in the ethnography of communication and in ethnopoetics, for example—they overlap and become indistinguishable. As part of a reaction to the formal rigor and social detachment of Chomsky’s theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics [...] Read more.
Folklore and sociolinguistics exist in a symbiotic relationship; more than that, at points—in the ethnography of communication and in ethnopoetics, for example—they overlap and become indistinguishable. As part of a reaction to the formal rigor and social detachment of Chomsky’s theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics emerges in the mid-twentieth century to assess the role of language in social life. Folklorists join the cause and bring to it a commitment to in-depth ethnography and a longstanding engagement with artistic communication. In this essay, I trace key phases in the development of this interdisciplinary movement, revolutionary in its reorientation of language study to the messy but fascinating realm of speech usage. I offer the concept of performative efficacy, the notion that expressive culture performances have the capacity to shape attitude and action and thereby transform perceived realities, as a means of capturing the continuing promise of a sociolinguistically informed folkloristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Folklore and the Hebrew Bible: Interdisciplinary Engagement and New Directions
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010006 - 10 Jan 2018
Viewed by 1712
Abstract
This essay explores the rich interactions between the fields of folklore and biblical studies over the course of the 20th century until the present. The essay argues for the continued relevance of folklore and related fields to an appreciation of ancient Israelite cultures [...] Read more.
This essay explores the rich interactions between the fields of folklore and biblical studies over the course of the 20th century until the present. The essay argues for the continued relevance of folklore and related fields to an appreciation of ancient Israelite cultures and their artistic inventions. It concludes with several case studies that underscore the fruitful realizations that emerge from this sort of interdisciplinary humanistic work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Folk Drama
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010002 - 03 Jan 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1562
Abstract
This article provides an overview of how scholars in the discipline of folklore have approached the topic of folk drama over the past one hundred fifty years, arguing that, despite relative neglect in the field, folk drama is a valuable window into culture [...] Read more.
This article provides an overview of how scholars in the discipline of folklore have approached the topic of folk drama over the past one hundred fifty years, arguing that, despite relative neglect in the field, folk drama is a valuable window into culture and should be taken more seriously. I begin with nineteenth century ideas about ritual drama that stem from Sir James Frazer. I then discuss the growing emphasis on context that emerged in the twentieth century, including overlaps between ideas about folk drama, performance, and theories of play more generally. I conclude by providing a brief overview of the relationship between play, drama, and politics, and suggest that contemporary digital realms, such as YouTube, offer a new ecology of folk drama that brings traditional questions about actors, context, play-frames, audience and transformation to the fore in new and interesting ways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
Toward a Generative Model of Legend: Pizzas, Bridges, Vaccines, and Witches
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010001 - 29 Dec 2017
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2661
Abstract
We propose a generative model of the legend. The model is elaborated based on two case studies, the first of contemporary storytelling related to vaccination on parenting blogs, and the second of historical storytelling related to witchcraft and folk healing in nineteenth century [...] Read more.
We propose a generative model of the legend. The model is elaborated based on two case studies, the first of contemporary storytelling related to vaccination on parenting blogs, and the second of historical storytelling related to witchcraft and folk healing in nineteenth century Denmark. The model reveals the interdependent levels of the multiscale model, solving a problem of poor fit related to many two level models of folklore genre structure. The model supports the study of rumor, and the dynamics of storytelling, including the hyperactive transmission state of “viral” stories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
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Article
Myth and One-Dimensionality
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040099 - 14 Dec 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1963
Abstract
A striking difference between the folk-narrative genres of legend and folktale is how the human characters respond to supernatural, otherworldly, or uncanny beings such as ghosts, gods, dwarves, giants, trolls, talking animals, witches, and fairies. In legend the human actors respond with fear [...] Read more.
A striking difference between the folk-narrative genres of legend and folktale is how the human characters respond to supernatural, otherworldly, or uncanny beings such as ghosts, gods, dwarves, giants, trolls, talking animals, witches, and fairies. In legend the human actors respond with fear and awe, whereas in folktale they treat such beings as if they were ordinary and unremarkable. Since folktale humans treat all characters as belonging to a single realm, folklorists have described the world of the folktale as one-dimensional, in contrast to the two-dimensionality of the legend. The present investigation examines dimensionality in the third major genre of folk narrative: myth. Using the Greek and Hebrew myths of primordial paradise as sample narratives, the present essay finds—surprisingly—that the humans in these stories respond to the otherworldly one-dimensionally, as folktale characters do, and suggests an explanation for their behavior that is peculiar to the world of myth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
Article
The Challenge of Oral Epic to Homeric Scholarship
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040097 - 09 Dec 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1790
Abstract
The epic is an intriguing genre, claiming its place in both oral and written systems. Ever since the beginning of folklore studies epic has been in the centre of interest, and monumental attempts at describing its characteristics have been made, in which oral [...] Read more.
The epic is an intriguing genre, claiming its place in both oral and written systems. Ever since the beginning of folklore studies epic has been in the centre of interest, and monumental attempts at describing its characteristics have been made, in which oral literature was understood mainly as a primitive stage leading up to written literature. With the appearance in 1960 of A. B. Lord’s The Singer of Tales and the introduction of the oral-formulaic theory, the paradigm changed towards considering oral literature a special form of verbal art with its own rules. Fieldworkers have been eagerly studying oral epics all over the world. The growth of material caused that the problems of defining the genre also grew. However, after more than half a century of intensive implementation of the theory an internationally valid sociological model of oral epic is by now established and must be respected in cognate fields such as Homeric scholarship. Here the theory is both a help for readers to guard themselves against anachronistic interpretations and a necessary tool for constructing a social-historic context for the Iliad and the Odyssey. As an example, the hypothesis of a gradual crystallization of these two epics is discussed and rejected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
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