Butterflies and Dragon-Eagles: Processing Epics from Southwest China

In the mountains of southwest China, epic narratives are part of the traditional performance-scapes of many ethnic minority cultures. In some cases locals participate in the preservation of oral or oral-connected epics from their respective areas. This article discusses the dynamics of acquiring and translating texts from two major ethnic minority groups in cooperation with […]

“With This Issue . . .”: A Record of Oral Tradition

In honor and memory of John Miles Foley, this chronicle of Oral Tradition provides abridged versions of selected columns written by Professor Foley between 1986 and 2011, collected with the aim of highlighting the patterns of scholarship within Oral Tradition as well as the many and varied milestones in the journal’s development. Within these columns, […]

“Our Grandparents Used to Say That We Are Certainly Ancient People, We Come From the Chullpas”: The Bolivian Chipayas’ Mythistory

The Chipaya people live in the Bolivian Altiplano. Their ecological, economic, and social isolation forms the basis of a strong ethnic consciousness present in their mythistory. This consciousness is closely related to the present, explaining and justifying their way of life and their tense relationship with their Aymara neighbors. In the story, mythic and historical […]

Dipping into the Well: Scottish Oral Tradition

The School of Scottish Studies was set up in 1951 to collect, research, archive, and publish material relating to the folklore, ethnology, and traditional arts of Scotland. Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches is a recent project that has enabled digitization of audio recordings and the creation of an online resource containing thousands of items from […]

Stepping Stones through Time

Indo-European mythology is known only through written records but it needs to be understood in terms of the preliterate oral-cultural context in which it was rooted. It is proposed that this world was conceptually organized through a memory-capsule consisting of the current generation and the three before it, and that there was a system of […]

The Storyteller, the Scribe, and a Missing Man: Hidden Influences from Printed Sources in the Gaelic Tales of Duncan and Neil MacDonald

This article concerns the well-known case of storytelling brothers Neil and Duncan MacDonald from South Uist, Scotland. The impressive verbal consistency of their hero tales has been taken to indicate that some Gaelic storytellers could acquire, recite, and transmit their repertoire in a near verbatim fashion. However, by deploying plagiarism detection techniques across an electronic […]

Masonic Song in Scotland: Folk Tunes and Community

This article explores the place of Masonic songs historically in Scotland, assessing the oral culture surrounding the genre. The article further shows that folk tunes were commonly used and investigates aspects of the group performance that was central to the Lodges. Finally, the study concludes with an examination of a Masonic procession in Northeast Scotland […]

Oral/Aural Culture in Late Modern Society? Traditional Singing as Professionalized Genre and Oral-Derived Expression

In late modern societies traditional arts tend to become disembedded from a functioning vernacular milieu and become partly absorbed into institutionalized structures such as education. This article focuses on traditional singing in present-day Sweden as one evident example where oral tradition as a comprehensive concept is being transformed and renegotiated into a selection of oral […]

Managing the “Boss”: Epistemic Violence, Resistance, and Negotiations in Milman Parry’s and Nikola Vujnović’s Pričanja with Salih Ugljanin

Rather than approaching the Parry-Vujnović interviews with Salih Ugljanin, singer of South Slavic and Albanian epics, as primarily contextual and supplementary material, this article explores their neglected performative aspect, the subdued social, ethnic, and religious tensions that underlie them, and the subtle power-struggles, shifting allegiances, clashes, and confluences of interests and intentions between the participants. […]