Traditionally, oral traditions were considered to diffuse only orally, outside the influence of literature and other printed media. Eventually, more attention was given to interaction between literacy and orality, but it is only recently that oral tradition has come to be seen as a modern construct both conceptually and in terms of accessibility. Oral traditions cannot be studied independently from the culture of writing and reading.
Lately, a new interdisciplinary interest has risen to study interconnections between oral tradition and book culture. In addition to the use and dissemination of printed books, newspapers etc., book culture denotes manuscript media and the circulation of written documents of oral tradition in and through the archive, into published collections. Book culture also intertwines the process of framing and defining oral genres with literary interests and ideologies. In addition to writing and reading, the study of oral traditions must also take into consideration the culture of publishing.
The present volume highlights varied and selected aspects of the expanding field of research into oral tradition and book culture. The questions discussed include the following: How have printing and book publishing set terms for oral tradition scholarship? How have the practices of reading affected the circulation of oral traditions? Which books and publishing projects have played a key role in this and how? How have the written representations of oral traditions, as well as the roles of editors and publishers, introduced authorship to materials customarily regarded as anonymous and collective?
The editors represent some of the key institutions in the study of oral traditions in Finland: the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Literature Society, and the University of Eastern Finland. The authors are folklorists, anthropologists, historians and literary historians, and scholars in information studies from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and the United States.Book Details
Book culture has emerged as an extremely dynamic and border-crossing field of research, internationally and in Finland. The editors and most of the writers of this book were members of the organizing and program committees of the 18th Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP), Book Culture from Below, that took place in Helsinki in 2010. This book provides, for the first time in English, an overview of an important epoch in Finnish book and reading history. Besides depicting book culture at the periphery of Europe, it contributes to our understanding of the power of the urbanized European literary world of the 1700s.
The new reading culture that emerged in Finland during the 1700s affected readers and all levels of society in many ways. Along with other trends, the arrival of translated fiction and Enlightenment literature from Europe opened and irrevocably altered the Finns’ world view. The change was especially pronounced in cities. Scholars, merchants, craftspersons, as well as military officers stationed at Helsinki’s offshore Sveaborg fortress, acquired world literature and guides intended for professionals at, for example, book auctions.
In this book, researchers from different fields examine the significance and influence of that era’s books from cultural, historical, ideological, and social perspectives. What kinds of books did the citizens of Helsinki really buy, loan, and read during the 1700s? What topics and ideas introduced by the new literature were discussed in salons and reading circles? Who were the books’ large-scale consumers? Who were the literary opinion leaders of their times? Why did people read? Did the books change their readers’ lives?Book Details