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Oral Traditions


Admission requirements

At least a BA or comparable degree in literary studies, linguistics or an Asian language.


“Oral Traditions” is used in the Humanities as a cover term for many different types of art all over the world. The main feature that they all share is that they are transmitted orally. Consequently, although oral traditions as a topic link several disciplines in the Humanities, their respective research traditions and scientific interests result in very divergent and sometimes mutually conflicting outputs.
This class focuses on different types of orality in Asia and beyond and intends to provide a frame work on how to study them.

This class is meant for students of literature, linguistics, and anthropology with an interest in Asian languages and cultures.

Course objectives

The goal of this class is to study different aspects in the theory, practice and study of oral traditions that play a role in the research of the lecturers that represent different fields of expertise and regions in Asia.



Mode of instruction

Lectures, audio-taped performance, discussion.

Assessment method

  • Performance assignment + group presentation: 30%

  • Final paper + presentation: 50%

  • Attendance and participation: 10%

  • Reading assignments: 10%


Reading material and assignments will be distributed through blackboard.

Reading list

A reading list for the lectures will be put on Blackboard. The student is required to have read the following book on his own, preferably before the beginning of the class:

  • Ong, Walter, 2002 (or later), Orality and Literacy, The technologizing of the Word, London: Routledge


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dr. A. van Engelenhoven


The diversity of approaches and oral genres requires a substantial input of the student through consistent attendance to and active participation in the lectures and meetings.
Absence beyond three times implies further exclusion from class.