Narrative Tradition and Culture : A Study of Bulgarian Ethnopoetics

Daskalova Perkowski, Liliana A., Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Hymes, Dell Hathaway, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Perdue, Charles L. "Chuck", Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

Following a text+discourse-centered approach to the language-culturesociety relationship (Hymes, Tedlock, Sherzer, Woodbury), this study explores the ethnopoetics of traditional oral narratives, mainly folktales, legends and jokes, previously considered and studied as 'prose'. They were collected in South Central Bulgaria during 1985-1991. The ethnopoetic perspective, through 'verse analysis' of original transcriptions of tape recordings and English translations, explicates their poetic structure: hierarchic units organized as lines and groups of lines marked by pervasive repetitions and recurrences of discourse markers, covariation of form and content, and a rhetoric of action, following a principle of arousal and satisfaction of listeners' expectations - a rhetorical "logic" of action expressed as sequences of initiation and outcome.

Abundant evidence indicates that there is a consistency between the ethnopoetic organization of Bulgarian narratives and that discovered in other cultures. However, unique characteristics are also uncovered, as well as levels of complexity not yet observed in other cultures. Furthermore, there is indication of consistent correlation of formal structure and genre. In this respect, the findings are related to the kind of poetry found in sung narratives (epics and ballads), thus joining others in inviting further explorations into the nature of the underlying narrative competence.

This study supports the prevalent assumptions that ethnopoetic patterning may be both universal and culture-specific but largely innate and unconsciously deployed. Many issues and broad implications of its existence are discussed in greater or lesser detail: composition during performance; the textualization of oral narratives; 'reproduction', variation and change in tradition and culture; tradition and the individual; orality and literacy; languages and their properties (evidence of cognitive activity - narrative planning, remembering or memorization, etc.; deeper insight into the discourse function of grammatical elements and the range of uses to which all linguistic resources are put in the process of generating stories).

As part of a more general concern with the anthropological text, the study also calls attention to implications of narrative ethnopoetic organization for complex issues surrounding the written presentation and translation of oral performances, to which scholars, collectors, poets and others resort for a variety of purposes.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Bularian ethnopoetics

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-17 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:36:20.

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