Folklore | FOLK POETRY
F527 | 2316 | McDowell
This course is about the traditional poetics of the world's peoples, and
the way scholars have conceptualized, handled, and presented this stock of
oral poetry. We will weave together a historical critique of the idea of
"folk poetry" and an appreciation of a virtually universal poetic impulse.
This effort takes us from "mythopoeic thought" to ethnopoetics, from
Aristotle's poeisis to Jakobson's "poetic function of speech," from
communal origins to the analysis of "artistic communication in small
Our goal is to isolate a range of conceptual stances towards "measured and
allusive speech," taking notice of theories and methods attaching to each,
and linking these to major currents in Western intellectual history. We
will explore scholarly approaches to the study of myth, epic, ballad,
riddle, and proverb, with attention to issues like these:
1. How have scholars defined, bounded, and characterized these
2. How have they sought to capture oral poetry on the written page?
3. How have they brought in social, cultural and political contexts?
4. How have they dealt with issues of aesthetic experience?
These concerns will lead us to inquire: what might a "folk poetics" or a
poetics of traditional verbal expression look like? What elements from the
extensive literature on folk and oral poetry might we recruit for a theory
of oral poetics?