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Oral Literature: Research in Living Traditions



Oral Literature: Research in Living Traditions

The course offers theories and methods of analysis for oral texts in the comparison of case studies from Africa, Asia, and Amerindian America. Students have the opportunity to understand and interpret oral performances not only by learning and discussing methodologies of analysis but also by looking at performers and by performing oral genres themselves under the supervision of lecturers and storytellers.

With the knowledge acquired during the course, ATC students will write their paper when they are in Africa in the second semester (see “Werkstuk Afrika”). All the other students write their paper and submit it three weeks after the course. The required length of the paper is 10 pages.


  1. Acquire critical knowledge of theories and methods of analysis of oral performances
  2. Acquire and practice techniques of text transcription and translation
  3. Acquire and practice techniques of ‘visual’ description of the performance and the context of performance
  4. Understand oral performances by performing oral genres under the supervision of lecturers and storytellers
  5. Develop critical thinking and communication skills in presentations and essays


Zie rooster op website Afrikaanse talen en culturen Collegerooster




  • take home exam 15%

  • research practice 20%

  • oral presentation 5%

  • paper 60%


Blackboard wordt gebruikt voor het ter beschikking stellen van programma, studiemateriaal, power point presentaties van de docent, announcements.



The students read the articles before the lectures (a file with materials is in the hall of ATC department, building 1166, first floor). Example:

Finnegan, R., The Oral and Beyond, Currey: Oxford, U of Chicago Press: Chicago, U of KwaZule-Natal Press: Pietermaritzburg, 2007
Finnegan, R., Oral Tradition and the Verbal Arts, Routledge: London and New York, 1992, chap. 9 (Texts in process), pp. 186-213.
Merolla, D., Dangerous Love in Mythical Narratives and Formula Tales, Religion, Volume 39, Issue 3, September 2009, pp. 283-288.
Mous, M., Ka babäy kabäbiyo: Riddling in Iraqw, AAP 62 (2000): 39-69
van Engelenhoven, A., Ktunu: clues in the quest of the Sailfish: Linguistic insights in Southwest Malukan narratives (East-Indonesia), In: Lander, Y.A. & Ogloblin, A.K. (Eds.), Language and Text in the Austronesian World. Studies in Honour of Ülo Sirk (LINCOM Studies in Austronesian Linguistics), 06. , pp. 311-325. München: Lincom GmbH.


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Dr. Daniela Merolla


Voertaal: NL en ENG