“Whistlin’ Towards the Devil’s House”: Poetic Transformations and Natural Metaphysics in an Appalachian Folktale Performance

The late Ray Hicks of Beech Mountain, North Carolina was an acclaimed master of the traditional storytelling art. Yet little has been written that conveys the poetic dimensions of his tellings, nor their striking liberties within traditional molds. This study centers on a performance of one of Hicks’s signature tales, “Wicked John and the Devil.” His masterful play with markers of truth and belief are explored in order to question traditional folkloristic classifications of folktale genres.

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 local tradition-bearers, poets, and scholars.

A New Approach to the Classification of Gaelic Song

This essay illustrates the importance of songs and singing in traditional Gaelic society, revisits earlier attempts to classify Gaelic song, and examines whether or not the effort of constructing a classification system is still worthwhile. Finally, it examines the place and role occupied by singing in Gaelic in our own time, and in particular with the contextual and aesthetic changes that have shaped the performance of Gaelic song in today’s commercially-driven “world music” environment.

Parallelism in Karelian Laments

Karelian laments are performed by women during a ritual – funerals, weddings, and recruiting ceremonies – and were once commonly used in other contexts of everyday life. Laments are works of a special kind of improvisation. They were created during the performance process in relation to a concrete situation, drawing upon traditional language, stylistic means and traditional themes. Among the main stylistic features of the Karelian lament poetry is an extensive use of different types of parallelism. This paper discusses parallelism in laments as one of the central conventional organizational parameters of the performance. Increased use of parallelism in Karelian laments was meaningful as an indicator of significance and emphasis. It is also possible to use parallelism to address the relationship between verbal art and experienced reality, a form of parallelism that would be connected to understandings of its ritual efficacy.

Prayers for the Community: Parallelism and Performance in San Juan Quiahije Eastern Chatino

La42 qin4 kchin4 or ‘Prayers for the Community’ are supplications spoken by elders, traditional authorities, and virtuoso Chatino speakers from Oaxaca, Mexico. Chatino prayers are composed of varied, and complex forms of parallelism, repetition, and formulaic expressions. Units of meaning in these prayers are developed and presented in semantically and syntactically related stanzas consisting of any number of verses, including couplets, triplets, or quatrains. Chatino supplications achieve poetic tension, imagery, and metaphor through the extensive use of formulaic expressions, which are conventionally paired parallel words and phrases. These well established units of the poetic lexicon are part of the collective knowledge of the community. Formulaic expressions make extensive use of positional and existential predicates, making them challenging to translate into English or any Western languages.

Parallelism in Arandic Song-Poetry

The ceremonial song-poetry performed by Arandic people of central Australia is characterized by parallelism of sound, form and meaning in both auditory and visual modalities. Parallelism, in all its manifestations, operates at multiple levels of the hierarchically structured poetic form. In the period Arandic people call the Altyerre, “Dreaming,” ancestral spirit-beings created the land and laid the lore through actions and song. This included the creation of women’s song-poetry called awelye. Awelye is sung in group unison as a series of many short verses that relate to each group’s inherited estate lands, their ancestors, and to the ceremonial performance itself. Actions that mirror the meaning of the verses accompany the singing, such as painting designs on the body, placing a ritual object in the ground, and dancing. This paper considers the role of parallelism in the poetic function of language (Jakobson 1987), and facilitates the merging of the everyday realm with that of the performer’s ancestors, which Stanner so aptly translates as the “everywhen.”

Twin Constellations: Parallelism and Stance in Stand-Up Comedy

This paper addresses the interrelations between poetic parallelism and interactional stance-taking in stand-up comedy by examining commercially edited recordings of stand-up routines performed by two contemporary comics. Methodologically, the article suggests a heuristic distinction between 1) an approach to parallelism as a textual and rhetorical device based on sequential repetition of units of expression, and 2) a more positional or symbolic orientation that conceptualizes parallelism as a higher-order structural and functional principle. It is concluded that both types rely on iconic mappings across co-textual signs. The flexibility of parallelism is simultaneously proposed as affording diversity on the level of discursive presentation.

Multimedial Parallelism in Ritual Performance (Parallelism Dynamics II)

This article approaches parallelism as a semiotic phenomenon that can operate across verbal art and other media in performance. It presents an approach to different media and the uniting performance mode as construing “metered frames.” Multimedial parallelism is analyzed as a phenomenon resulting from the coordination of expressions in relation to these frames to form members of parallel groups. The focus is on rituals that involve interaction with the unseen world. Discussion of parallelism between speech and empirical aspects of performance extends to the potential for presumed parallelism between speech and unseen objects, agents, and forces. John Miles Foley’s concept of “performance arena” is extended to performers’ and audiences’ perceptions and expectations about “reality” in ritual performance. The mapping of otherworld locations and cosmology onto empirical spaces in performance is also discussed.

Eall-feala Ealde Sæge: Poetic Performance and “The Scop’s Repertoire” in Old English Verse

This essay identifies “The Scop’s Repertoire” as an Old English traditional theme. The theme associates the making of verse with three motifs: copiousness, orality, and antiquity. With close analogues in Old Saxon, Old and Middle High German, and Old Norse poetry, “The Scop’s Repertoire” originates in an oral Germanic tradition of versification. The theme thus sheds light on the myth of the oral poet, who is either depicted as divinely inspired or as bearer of tradition.

The Fairy-Seers of Eastern Serbia: Seeing Fairies—Speaking through Trance

The fairy-seers of Southeastern Europe are generally women who are able to communicate with the invisible world. They claim to see women-like creatures and transmit messages from them. Sometimes they fell into a trance-like state in order to establish a communication. During this process the fairy-seers can prophesy future events. They bring messages to the living from the behalf of their deceased relatives. This essay is about two of such women from the Vlach community of Eastern Serbia.