Folklore | Performance: Verbal Art & Speech Play
F750 | 30131 | J. McDowell

Fulfills Theory & Form

Above class meets at 501 N. Park Ave.

This course proposes a survey of creative and poetic uses of
language in social settings conducive to the deployment of
conventional speech forms. We will assess spoken-word performances
in ludic (playful), commemorative, ceremonial, and ritual
modalities, in (and between) genres such as joke, riddle, proverb,
story, song, ballad, legend, and myth. The main themes for the
course are these:

1. How do performances rooted in speech incorporate musical elements
such as rhythm and melody, and to what effect?

2. What is the role of parallel construction, figurative language,
and other related features, in artistic verbal performance?

3. How do these performances become vehicles for pursuing individual
and group goals?

4. What are viable tactics for documenting verbal performances and
for ascertaining their social impact?

Readings for this course are drawn from the substantial literatures
on the ethnography of speaking and ethnopoetics, with emphasis on
the sources that have proved to be most influential among
folklorists. Students will be expected to contribute heartily to
seminar discussions, to complete a series of short exercises, and to
write a term paper developing an original thesis in the broad areas
covered during the semester.