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
This book addresses the narrative construction of places, the relationship between tradition communities and their environments, the supernatural dimensions of cultural landscapes and wilderness as they are manifested in European folklore and in early literary sources, such as the Old Norse sagas.
The first section “Explorations in Place-Lore” discusses cursed and sacred places, churches, graveyards, haunted houses, cemeteries, grave mounds, hill forts, and other tradition dominants in the micro-geography of the Nordic and Baltic countries, both retrospectively and from synchronous perspectives. The supernaturalisation of places appears as a socially embedded set of practices that involves storytelling and ritual behaviour. Articles show, how places accumulate meanings as they are layered by stories and how this shared knowledge about environments can actualise in personal experiences.
Articles in the second section “Regional Variation, Environment and Spatial Dimensions” address ecotypes, milieu-morphological adaptation in Nordic and Baltic-Finnic folklores, and the active role of tradition bearers in shaping beliefs about nature as well as attitudes towards the environment. The meaning of places and spatial distance as the marker of otherness and sacrality in Old Norse sagas is also discussed here.
The third section of the book “Traditions and Histories Reconsidered” addresses major developments within the European social histories and mentalities. It scrutinizes the history of folkloristics, its geopolitical dimensions and its connection with nation building, as well as looking at constructions of the concepts Baltic, Nordic and Celtic. It also sheds light on the social base of folklore and examines vernacular views toward legendry and the supernatural.Book Details
The poem Kalevipoeg, over 19,000 lines in length, was composed by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (1803–1882) on the basis on folklore material. It was published in an Estonian-German bilingual edition in six instalments between 1857 and 1861; it went on to become the Estonian national epic. This first English-language monograph on the Kalevipoeg sheds light on various aspects of the emergence, creation and reception of the text. The first chapter sketches the objectives of the book and gives a short summary of the contents of the twenty tales of the epic, while the second chapter treats the significance of the epic against the cultural background of nineteenth-century Estonia.
The third chapter scrutinizes the emergence of the text in more detail and, in its second part, takes a closer look at the many intertextual connections and the traces the epic material has left in Estonian literature up to the present time. The fourth chapter is a detailed case study of one debated passage of the fifteenth tale.
The fifth and the six chapters deal with the German reception of the epic, which partly took place earlier than the reception in Estonia. In the fifth chapter, the first reviews and an early treatise by the German scholar Wilhelm Schott (1863) are discussed. The sixth chapter presents the new genre of ‘rewritings’ of the epic – texts which cannot be labelled as translations but are rather new creations on the basis of Kreutzwald’s text.
In the seventh chapter several versions of these retellings and adaptations are compared in order to show the stability of some core material conveyed by various authors. A concluding chapter stresses the significance of foreign reception in the canonization process of the Kalevipoeg. At the end, a comprehensive bibliography and an index are added.Book Details
This book presents current discussions on the concept of genre. It introduces innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to contemporary and historical genres, their roles in cultural discourse, how they change, and their relations to each other.
The reader is guided into the discussion surrounding this key concept and its history through a general introduction, followed by eighteen chapters that represent a variety of discursive practices as well as analytic methods from several scholarly traditions.
This volume will have wide appeal to several academic audiences within the humanities, both in Finland and abroad, and will especially be of interest to scholars of folklore, language and cultural expression.Book Details
Mythic discourses in the present day show how vernacular heritage continues to function and be valuable through emergent interpretations and revaluations. At the same time, continuities in mythic images, motifs, myths and genres reveal the longue durée of mythologies and their transformations. The eighteen articles of Mythic Discourses address the many facets of myth in Uralic cultures, from the Finnish and Karelian world-creation to Nenets shamans, offering multidisciplinary perspectives from twenty eastern and western scholars.
The mythologies of Uralic peoples differ so considerably that mythology is approached here in a broad sense, including myths proper, religious beliefs and associated rituals. Traditions are addressed individually, typologically, and in historical perspective. The range and breadth of the articles, presenting diverse living mythologies, their histories and relationships to traditions of other cultures such as Germanic and Slavic, all come together to offer a far richer and more developed perspective on Uralic traditions than any one article could do alone.Book Details
Why are Khanty shamans still active? What are the folklore collectives of Komi? Why are the rituals of Udmurts performed at cultural festivals? In their insightful ethnographic study Anna-Leena Siikala and Oleg Ulyashev attempt to answer such questions by analysing the recreation of religious traditions, myths, and songs in public and private performances. Their work is based on long term fieldwork undertaken during the 1990s and 2000s in three different places, the Northern Ob region in North West Siberia and in the Komi and Udmurt Republics. It sheds light on how different traditions are favoured and transformed in multicultural Russia today. Siikala and Ulyashev examine rituals, songs, and festivals that emphasize specificity and create feelings of belonging between members of families, kin groups, villages, ethnic groups, and nations, and interpret them from a perspective of area, state, and cultural policies. A closer look at post-Soviet Khanty, Komi and Udmurts shows that opportunities to perform ethnic culture vary significantly among Russian minorities with different histories and administrative organisation. Within this variation the dialogue between local and administrative needs is decisive.Book Details
Words as Events introduces the tradition of short, communicative rhyming couplets, the mantinádes, as still sung and recited in a variety of performance situations on the island of Crete. Recently, these poems have also entered modern mass media and they are widely being exchanged as text messages by Cretans. Focusing on the multi-functionality of the short form, Sykäri demonstrates how the traditional register gives voice to individual experiences in spontaneous utterances. The local focus on communicative economy and artistry is further examined in a close analysis of the processes and ideals of composition. By analyzing how the “restrictions” of form and performative conventions in fact generate impulses of creativity, the author creates a theoretical approach that is sensitive to the special characteristics of the short, rhymed poetic traditions.
In this interdisciplinary study, the reader is invited to become familiar with the current folklore theory of oral poetry, which has a long tradition in Finland. The author combines the results of earlier folkloristic and anthropological insights, and extends the theoretical concerns further to address questions of spontaneity and individual agency. The research data has been produced in communicative interactions during long-term fieldwork. As a result, the short, rhymed poetry, often neglected by scholars in earlier research paradigms, can now be seen in new light – specifically as dialogic poetry – through its extended, multi-layered dialogic qualities.Book Details
The effects of globalization and the momentous changes to the political map of Europe have led to a world in which multiculturalism and ethnic differences have become issues of increasing importance. In Nordic countries, relationships between new immigrants, local ethnic groups and majorities are created in ongoing and sometimes heated discussions. In transforming multicultural societies, folklore has taken on new manifestations and meanings. How can folklore studies illuminate the present cultural, political and historical changes?
"Creating Diversities. Folklore, Religion and the Politics of Heritage", edited by Anna-Leena Siikala, Barbro Klein and Stein R. Mathisen, seeks answers to this question. It emphasizes two important factors in the cultural and political exchanges among historical minorities, recent immigrants, and the majority groups dictating the conditions of these exchanges. The first factor is religion, which is a powerful tool in the construction of ethnic selves and in the establishment of boundaries between groups. The second factor is the role of national and regional folklore archives and ethnographic and cultural historical museums which create ideas and images of minorities. These representations, created in different political climates, affect the general understanding of the people depicted.
Fifteen well-known folklorists and ethnographers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and the United States offer insights and background material on these problems. In addition to immigrants and ethnic minorities in the Nordic countries, especially the Sámi, examples are sought from among the Finno-Ugrian minorities in Russia and the Nordic population in North America.Book Details
How do people tell of experiences, things and events that mean a lot to them and are unforgettable? Eight Nordic folklorists here examine personal experience stories and the way they are narrated in an attempt to gain an understanding of the people behind them and to reveal how these people handle their history, their lives and their cultural memory. All the articles are based on interviews and narrator-researcher collaboration. The stories tell about birth, sickness and miraculous cures, intergenerational relations, war, and matters not normally talked about. The analyses complement one another and the work may be used as a university course book.Book Details
In their study of social practices deemed traditional, scholars tend to use the concept and idea of tradition as an element of meaning in the practices under investigation. But just whose meaning is it? Is it a meaning generated by those who study tradition or those whose traditions are being studied? In both cases, particular criteria for traditionality are employed, whether these are explicated or not. Individuals and groups will no doubt continue to uphold their traditional practices or refer to their practices as traditional. While they are in no way obliged to explicate in analytical terms their criteria for traditionality, the same cannot be said for those who make the study of traditions their profession. In scholarly analysis, traditions need to be explained instead of used as explanations for apparent repetitions and replications or symbolic linking in social practice, values, history, and heritage politics.
This book takes a closer look at ‘tradition’ and ‘folklore’ in order to conceptualize them within discourses on modernity and modernism. The first section discusses ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ as modern concepts and the study of folklore as a modern trajectory. The underlying tenet here is that non-modernity cannot be represented without modern mediation, which therefore makes the representations of non-modernity epistemologically modern. The second section focuses on the nation-state of Finland and the nationalistic use of folk traditions in the discursive production of Finnish modernity and its Others. The insights are applicable worldwide in discussions on cultural representation.Book Details