'Oral Tradition from West Africa and the Balkans to Florida: A Zoom Symposium'

The FSU Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics and the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies invite you to a Zoom symposium exploring two of the richest traditions of the oral performance and transmission of songs of heroes — epic and praise song — 3-5 p.m., Wednesday, April 14. This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

As prolific scholar of comparative oral tradition John Miles Foley remarked in his 2002 "How to Read an Oral Poem," writing has appeared only very lately in the ongoing history of homo sapiens: “Like it or not, for most of our existence as a species, ‘cultural literacy’ didn’t involve literacy.” If writing is recent and written literature is rare, “all peoples have composed and transmitted oral traditions, an alternate verbal technology that has shown itself not only far more widespread than texts but also more adaptable and durable.”

This symposium covers oral performance and transmission of songs in West Africa, in particular Côte d'Ivoire, and the European Balkans, the mountainous region from Bosnia in the west (where the Homer scholar Milman Parry tested his theory of oral composition), to Greece in the south. Discover these traditions and their historical, political, scholarly, and performance contexts through short, engaging talks from three leading figures in the field.

  • David Elmer, Eliot Professor of Greek Literature at Harvard University's classics department, presents, "South Slavic Epic and the Philology of the Border."

  • Joseph Hellweg, associate professor of religion at FSU, presents, "Im/Orality: Dozo Songs as Mulitmodal, Interreligious Performance in Northwestern Côte d'Ivoire."

  • Panayotis League, assistant professor of musicology and director of the Center for Music of the Americas at FSU, presents, "Archival Impressions: Cretan Songs of Crisis and Resistance from the James A. Notopoulos Collection."

Dial-In Information

Register on Zoom at fla.st/2OrnlOw.

Wednesday, April 14 at 3:00pm

Virtual Event

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