Oral Tradition Wiki

Immanent Art asks "how" the structure of an oral poem means, rather than how the Oral-Formulaic Theory or Parry-Lord Theory (from Milman Parry and Alfred Lord) seeks to clarify the structure in itself. Immanent Art seeks to understand the idiomatic implications of the building blocks ("words") of an oral performance. It concentrates on recurrent phrases, scenes, and story-patterns as clues of more-than-literal meaning. (Foley 2002)

"[Immanent Art] aims beyond a nuts-and-bolts grammar and toward a working fluency in the language of oral poetry." How to Read an Oral Poem


A register names the special language used both by oral poets to make their poems and by audiences and reader to hear and read them. Dell Hymes defines registers as "major speech styles associated with recurrent types of situations." These ways of speaking are socially defined and can be classified as "styles". Each register is tied to a purpose and can be out of place. A register will definitely encompass some keys to performance, but the main focus of identifying or studying the register is to understand "how" things mean what they mean and "how" the audience understands it. In the long and short of it, following the register connects the oral poems to their oral traditions.

Performance arena[]

An oral poem's performance arena is not actually the physical location of a performance, but a virtual space and time in which the poets and audiences transact their traditional business. It is more important to understand why the poet is performing in a certain place, rather than to collect unnecessary information about the place itself.

Communication economy[]

Instead of the poet and audience having to figure out a common language, they "know" which one to use. Some traditions incorporate words from other dead languages, but they are still used due to tradition. Likewise, if the langauge were to change, so would the meaning of the performance itself.

Eternal Links[]

  Twbtg2's Project on Native American Trickster Stories edit

Navigation: Twbtg2 - Abstract - Table of Contents - All Articles - Suggested Routes - Sources
Elements: Trickster story type - Coyote - List and maps of Native American tribes
Stories: The Coyote & The Prairie Dog - Coyote and Junco - Coyote and Turtle Story - Coyote Races Buffalo - Coyote Steals a Drink - Don't Be Too Curious - Rabbit's Short Tail
Approaches: Ethnopoetics - Performance Theory - Immanent Art - All
Sources: American Indian Trickster Tales - Calvin Grinnell Interview - A Coyote Reader - Coyote Stories - Finding the Center - How to Read an Oral Poem - Inconstant Companions - Tales of the North American Indians - The Telling of the World - All

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