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Blood Brothers and Peace Pipes
Performing the Wild West in German Festivals
A. Dana Weber
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
"Nineteenth-century writer Karl May wrote novels about a fictionalized American Wild West that count among the most popular books of German literature to this day. His stories left an imprint on German culture, resulting in a variety of Wild West festivals featuring Native Americans and frontier settlers. These Karl May festivals are hosted widely throughout German-speaking countries today.
This book, based on years of fieldwork observing and studying the festivals, plays, events, and groups that comprise this subculture, addresses a larger, timely issue: cultural transfer and appropriations. Are Germans dressing up in American Indian costumes paying tribute or offending the cultures they are representing? Avoiding simplistic answers, A. Dana Weber considers the complexity of cultural enactments as they relate both to the distinctly German phenomenon as well as to larger questions of cultural representations in American and European live performance traditions."

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Clear Word and Third Sight
Folk Groundings and Diasporic Consciousness in African Caribbean Writing
Catherine A. John
Duke University Press, 2003
Clear Word and Third Sight examines the strands of a collective African diasporic consciousness represented in the work of a number of Black Caribbean writers. Catherine A. John shows how a shared consciousness, or “third sight,” is rooted in both pre- and postcolonial cultural practices and disseminated through a rich oral tradition. This consciousness has served diasporic communities by creating an alternate philosophical “worldsense” linking those of African descent across space and time.

Contesting popular discourses about what constitutes culture and maintaining that neglected strains in negritude discourse provide a crucial philosophical perspective on the connections between folk practices, cultural memory, and collective consciousness, John examines the diasporic principles in the work of the negritude writers Léon Damas, Aimé Césaire, and Léopold Senghor. She traces the manifestations and reworkings of their ideas in Afro-Caribbean writing from the eastern and French Caribbean, as well as the Caribbean diaspora in the United States. The authors she discusses include Jamaica Kincaid, Earl Lovelace, Simone Schwarz-Bart, Audre Lorde, Paule Marshall, and Edouard Glissant, among others. John argues that by incorporating what she calls folk groundings—such as poems, folktales, proverbs, and songs—into their work, Afro-Caribbean writers invoke a psychospiritual consciousness which combines old and new strategies for addressing the ongoing postcolonial struggle.


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Conjuring the Folk
Forms of Modernity in African America
David G. Nicholls
University of Michigan Press, 2000
Conjuring the Folk addresses the dynamic relation between metropolitan artistic culture and its popular referents during the Harlem Renaissance period. From Jean Toomer's conclusion that "the Negro of the folk-song has all but passed away" to Zora Neale Hurston's discovery of "a rich field for folk-lore" in a Florida lumber camp, Harlem Renaissance writers made competing claims about the vitality of the African-American "folk." These competing claims, David Nicholls explains, form the basis of a discordant conversation on the question of modernity in African America.
In a series of revisionary readings, Nicholls studies how the "folk" is shaped by the ideology of form. He examines the presence of a spectral "folk" in Toomer's modernist pastiche, Cane. He explores how Hurston presents folklore as a contemporary language of resistance in her ethnography, Mules and Men. In Claude McKay's naturalistic romance, Banana Bottom, Nicholls discovers the figuration of an alternative modernity in the heroine's recovery of her lost "folk" identity. He unearths the individualist ethos of Booker T. Washington in two novels by George Wylie Henderson. And he reveals how Richard Wright's photo-documentary history, 12 Million BlackVoices, places the "folk" in a Marxian narrative of modernization toward class-consciousness.
A provocative rereading of the cultural politics of the Harlem Renaissance, Conjuring the Folk offers a new way of understanding literary responses to migration, modernization, and the concept of the "folk" itself.
David G. Nicholls is a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago.

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The Contemporary African American Novel
Its Folk Roots and Modern Literary Branches
Bernard W. Bell
University of Massachusetts Press, 2005
In 1987 Bernard W. Bell published The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition, a comprehensive history of more than 150 novels written by African Americans from 1853 to 1983. The book won the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the College Language Association and was reprinted five times. Now Bell has produced a new volume that serves as a sequel and companion to the earlier work, expanding the coverage to 2001 and examining the writings and traditions of a remarkably wide array of black novelists.

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Crossing Borders through Folklore
African American Women's Fiction and Art
Alma Jean Billingslea-Brown
University of Missouri Press, 1999

Examining works by Toni Morrison, Paule Marshall, Faith Ringgold, and Betye Saar, this innovative book frames black women's aesthetic sensibilities across art forms. Investigating the relationship between vernacular folk culture and formal expression, this study establishes how each of the four artists engaged the identity issues of the 1960s and used folklore as a strategy for crossing borders in the works they created during the following two decades.

As a dynamic, open-ended process, folklore historically has enabled African-descended people to establish differential identity, resist dominance, and affirm group solidarity. This book documents the use of expressive forms of folklore in the fiction of Morrison and Marshall and the use of material forms of folklore in the visual representations of Ringgold and Saar. Offering a conceptual paradigm of a folk aesthetic to designate the practices these women use to revise and reverse meanings—especially meanings imposed on images such as Aunt Jemima and Sambo—Crossing Borders through Folklore explains how these artists locate sites of intervention and reconnection. From these sites, in keeping with the descriptive and prescriptive formulations for art during the sixties, Morrison, Marshall, Ringgold, and Saar articulate new dimensions of consciousness and creatively theorize identity.

Crossing Borders through Folklore is a significant and creative contribution to scholarship in both established and still- emerging fields. This volume also demonstrates how recent theorizing across scholarly disciplines has created elastic metaphors that can be used to clarify a number of issues. Because of its interdisciplinary approach, this study will appeal to students and scholars in many fields, including African American literature, art history, women's studies, diaspora studies, and cultural studies.


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Embroidered with Gold, Strung with Pearls
The Traditional Ballads of Bosnian Women
Aida Vidan
Harvard University Press, 2003
Bosnian traditional ballads have intrigued many by their beauty and eloquence, from Goethe's poetic interest in them in the eighteenth century to the work of twentieth-century scholars such as Milman Parry and Albert Lord. These songs are now available to the English reader in a bilingual edition offering a selection of never before translated or published materials from Harvard University's Parry Collection. The forty oral ballads, many appearing in multiple versions, were performed by Bosnian women and gathered in the Gacko region of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1930s. Using Parry and Lord as a starting point, Vidan supplements their theories with broader ethnological, cultural, and historical data. She seeks to understand issues such as the stability of the ballad, its transmission and dissemination, and its ties to mythology. She addresses an imbalance created by the pronounced focus on South Slavic epic songs in scholarly work of recent decades. While showing that each of the narrative genres in verse maintains its own stylistic features, she demonstrates that they nevertheless consist of the same basic compositional elements. In addition to comparative analysis of the materials from the Parry Collection, Vidan discusses numerous examples from published and unpublished sources in Croatian and Serbian.

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Folklore and Literature
Rival Siblings
Bruce Rosenberg
University of Tennessee Press, 1991
Literature's dependence on a few folktale plots is a cliche, and the significance of structuralist theory cannot have escaped many scholars, so Rosenberg's insistence on the interrelation of folklore and literature is nothing new. He surveys the foundational work of Aarne, Thompson, and Propp and the oral-formulaic theories of Parry and Lord, but the references are too elliptical to be clear to nonspecialists, while explanations of methodology will be redundant to folklorists. Bits of good material, of interest to medievalists and other literary scholars (especially on Beo wulf and on Chaucerian narrative), are buried in this disjointed collection of chapters. Serious editorial lapses include the complete absence of footnotes, forcing inappropriate supplementary matter into the body of the text and further blurring its weak structure. The parity of literary and narrative-folklore studies is the author's underlying theme, but his preoccupation with status in the academic hierarchy does nothing to make his arguments on the symbiosis of the two disciplines more convincing.
- Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Folklore in New World Black Fiction
Writing and the Oral Traditional Aesthetics
Chiji Akoma
The Ohio State University Press, 2007
For a while, tracing African roots in the artistic creations of blacks in the New World tended to generate much attention as if to suggest that the New World does not have profound impact on their creative spirit. In addition, few studies have tried to construct an interpretive model through which an array of works by New World writers could be meaningfully explored on the basis of their African Diasporic identity.
In Folklore in New World Black Fiction, Chiji Akọma offers an interpretive model for the reading of the African New World novel focusing on folklore, not as an ingredient, but as the basis for the narratives. The works examined do not contain folklore materials; they are folklore, constituted by the intersections of African oral narrative aesthetics, New World sensibility, and the written tradition. Specifically Akọma looks at four African Caribbean and African American novelists, Roy A.K. Heath, Wilson Harris, Toni Morrison, and Jean Toomer.
The book seeks to expand the understanding of the forms of folklore as it pertains to black texts. For one, it broadens the dimensions of folklore by looking beyond the oral world of the “simple folk” to the kinds of narrative sophistication associated with writing; it also asserts the importance of performance art in folklore analysis. The study demonstrates the durability of the black aesthetic over artistic forms.

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Haunted Greece and Rome
Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity
By D. Felton
University of Texas Press, 1998

Stories of ghostly spirits who return to this world to warn of danger, to prophesy, to take revenge, to request proper burial, or to comfort the living fascinated people in ancient times just as they do today. In this innovative, interdisciplinary study, the author combines a modern folkloric perspective with literary analysis of ghost stories from classical antiquity to shed new light on the stories' folk roots.

The author begins by examining ancient Greek and Roman beliefs about death and the departed and the various kinds of ghost stories which arose from these beliefs. She then focuses on the longer stories of Plautus, Pliny, and Lucian, which concern haunted houses. Her analysis illuminates the oral and literary transmission and adaptation of folkloric motifs and the development of the ghost story as a literary form. In her concluding chapter, the author also traces the influence of ancient ghost stories on modern ghost story writers, a topic that will interest all readers and scholars of tales of hauntings.


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Of Giants
Sex, Monsters, And The Middle Ages
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
University of Minnesota Press, 1999

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Real Folks
Race and Genre in the Great Depression
Sonnet H. Retman
Duke University Press, 2011
During the Great Depression, people from across the political spectrum sought to ground American identity in the rural know-how of “the folk.” At the same time, certain writers, filmmakers, and intellectuals combined documentary and satire into a hybrid genre that revealed the folk as an anxious product of corporate capitalism, rather than an antidote to commercial culture. In Real Folks, Sonnet Retman analyzes the invention of the folk as figures of authenticity in the political culture of the 1930s, as well as the critiques that emerged in response. Diverse artists and intellectuals—including the novelists George Schuyler and Nathanael West, the filmmaker Preston Sturges, and the anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston—illuminated the fabrication and exploitation of folk authenticity in New Deal and commercial narratives. They skewered the racist populisms that prevented interracial working-class solidarity, prophesized the patriotic function of the folk for the nation-state in crisis, and made their readers and viewers feel self-conscious about the desire for authenticity. By illuminating the subversive satirical energy of the 1930s, Retman identifies a rich cultural tradition overshadowed until now by the scholarly focus on Depression-era social realism.

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Stagolee Shot Billy
Cecil Brown
Harvard University Press, 2004

Although his story has been told countless times--by performers from Ma Rainey, Cab Calloway, and the Isley Brothers to Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, and Taj Mahal--no one seems to know who Stagolee really is. Stack Lee? Stagger Lee? He has gone by all these names in the ballad that has kept his exploits before us for over a century. Delving into a subculture of St. Louis known as "Deep Morgan," Cecil Brown emerges with the facts behind the legend to unfold the mystery of Stack Lee and the incident that led to murder in 1895.

How the legend grew is a story in itself, and Brown tracks it through variants of the song "Stack Lee"--from early ragtime versions of the '20s, to Mississippi John Hurt's rendition in the '30s, to John Lomax's 1940s prison versions, to interpretations by Lloyd Price, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett, right up to the hip-hop renderings of the '90s. Drawing upon the works of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison, Brown describes the powerful influence of a legend bigger than literature, one whose transformation reflects changing views of black musical forms, and African Americans' altered attitudes toward black male identity, gender, and police brutality. This book takes you to the heart of America, into the soul and circumstances of a legend that has conveyed a painful and elusive truth about our culture.


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Tall Tale American Folklore Literature
Carolyn S. Brown
University of Tennessee Press, 1989

Drawing on previous research and her own original fieldwork, the author develops a definition of the tall tale as a genre of folklore, and she then explores how tall tale methods and meanings have been translated into literary humor.

The work moves from the Crockett Almanacs, sketches, newspaper hoaxes, and frontier frame tales to present new readings of such standard works as George Washington Harris’ Sut Lovingood and Mark Twain’s Autobiography.
Brown views the tall tale as a challenge and an entertainment as well as a story that identifies and binds a folk group and helps people to cope with a stressful world.


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The Ohio State University Press, 2001

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Voices of Fire
Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hi'iaka
ku'ualoha ho'omanawanui
University of Minnesota Press, 2014

Stories of the volcano goddess Pele and her youngest sister Hi‘iaka, patron of hula, are most familiar as a form of literary colonialism—first translated by missionary descendants and others, then co-opted by Hollywood and the tourist industry. But far from quaint tales for amusement, the Pele and Hi‘iaka literature published between the 1860s and 1930 carried coded political meaning for the Hawaiian people at a time of great upheaval. Voices of Fire recovers the lost and often-suppressed significance of this literature, restoring it to its primary place in Hawaiian culture.

Ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui takes up mo‘olelo (histories, stories, narratives), mele (poetry, songs), oli (chants), and hula (dances) as they were conveyed by dozens of authors over a tumultuous sixty-eight-year period characterized by population collapse, land alienation, economic exploitation, and military occupation. Her examination shows how the Pele and Hi‘iaka legends acted as a framework for a Native sense of community. Freeing the mo‘olelo and mele from colonial stereotypes and misappropriations, Voices of Fire establishes a literary mo‘okū‘auhau, or genealogy, that provides a view of the ancestral literature in its indigenous contexts.

The first book-length analysis of Pele and Hi‘iaka literature written by a Native Hawaiian scholar, Voices of Fire compellingly lays the groundwork for a larger conversation of Native American literary nationalism.


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When Brer Rabbit Meets Coyote
Edited by Jonathan Brennan
University of Illinois Press, 2003
An exploration of the literature, history, and culture of people of mixed African American and Native American descent, When Brer Rabbit Meets Coyote is the first book to theorize an African-Native American literary tradition. In examining this overlooked tradition, the book prompts a reconsideration of interracial relations in American history and literature.
Jonathan Brennan, in a sweeping historical and analytical introduction to this collection of essays, surveys several centuries of literature in the context of the historical and cultural exchange and development of distinct African-Native American traditions. Positing a new African-Native American literary theory, he illuminates the roles subjectivity, situational identities, and strategic discourse play in defining African-Native American literatures.
Brennan provides a thorough background to the literary tradition and a valuable overview to topics discussed in the essays. He examines African-Native American political and historical texts, travel narratives, and the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, suggesting that this evolving oral tradition parallels the development of numerous Black Indian literary traditions in the United States and Latin America.

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Zora Neale Hurston
And A History Of Southern Life
Tiffany Ruby Patterson
Temple University Press, 2005
A historian hoping to reconstruct the social world of all-black towns or the segregated black sections of other towns in the South finds only scant traces of their existence. In Zora Neale Hurston and a History of Southern Life, Tiffany Ruby Patterson uses the ethnographic and literary work of Zora Neale Hurston to augment the few official documents, newspaper accounts, and family records that pertain to these places hidden from history. Hurston's ethnographies, plays, and fiction focused on the day-to-day life in all-black social spaces as well as "the Negro farthest down" in labor camps. Patterson shows how Hurston's work complements the fragmented historical record, using the folklore and stories to provide a full description of these people of these towns as active human subjects, shaped by history and shaping their private world. Beyond the view and domination of whites in these spaces, black people created their own codes of social behavior, honor, and justice. In Patterson's view Hurston renders her subjects faithfully and with respect for their individuality and endurance, enabling all people to envision an otherwise inaccessible world.

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