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U320 Oral Epic Traditions
Dan Prior

Oral epic traditions of Eurasia have sprung from diverse origins, involve different kinds of plots and characters, and have undergone various transformations. Yet they share common features that continually attract students of folklore and anthropology, cultural historians, and lovers of storytelling.

This course blends aspects of a general survey with hands-on workshop experiences. There are five units: (1) Oral Tradition and Epic, (2) Origins and Social Significance of Epic, (3) Three Eurasian Epic Traditions, (4) Religion, Myth and the Supernatural in Epic, and (5) Oral Epic Traditions in Transformation. We will be using readings, lectures, films, discussions, audio recordings, and slides to explore the common and distinctive characteristics of Eurasian epic traditions, including Turkic, Mongol, Finnish, Medieval German, and Sumerian epics (and, of course, Homer).


No single textbook will be used. Most required readings will be available in a course packet; others will be handed out in class. Required and supplementary readings are on reserve in the Main Library. Students are encouraged to use items from the Supplementary Bibliography in researching their term projects. 

Course requirements:

Class participation (attendance), short written summaries of selected readings, a midterm exam, a final exam, and a term paper.

Days and time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-10:45.