Tuesday, February 28 and Friday, March 3, we’ll be examining Orature — oral-based literature, storytelling, folktales, songs, chants, etc. We’ll be reading these within the context 19th century colonialism and the literary forms that dominate this century, i.e. the written novel. Instead of following our normal pattern of reading and writing about these texts, we’ll be breaking a bit to orally present the readings in class. Each member will be responsible for one of the following parts:

Member 1: Overview: what is the story about? Include 2-3 important themes or images, and do an extended reading. You’ll want to emphasize your themes in a way that will allow your next presenter to build their part of the presentation.

Member 2: Come up with at least 3 main questions that we can discuss as a group. You will be responsible for moderating some discussion during this part. You might want to think about role these stories play in their specific culture; what is idealized or offered as normative? What binds the community?

Member 3: Bring in some visuals to give a historical context of the piece(s) you’ve chosen. This can be paintings, art objects, video, etc. Make sure to tie this in with the text itself, that is, don’t simply show us a video and say “this is what this looks like”. (We’ve looked at some images thus far in class relating to the different movements or ideas we’ve discussed. The Vitruvian Man, is an example, as is the pencil in water glass for Descartes, and Edgar Degas’ paintings for Modernism).

Since we’ll be doing this over two days, we should have plenty of time to discuss all the works. Keep in mind how orature resists the written language that we are so accustomed to in literature. What features of orality, the spoken word, the spoken transmission of stories conflict with the written word?

Be creative. Make links to your own histories, traditions, experiences with stories (whether this is in a religious sense, a moral sense, or simply your grandparents or parents telling you bedtime stories).

Note: You are required to read ALL the texts that will be presented on. Be prepared for a possible reading quiz. 

Grading: You will ultimately be graded on an individual basis as well as a group basis. However, as you’ll notice, your individual contribution will depend largely on what your fellow group members do. It is important that you exchange contact information and clearly define the roles for your presentation.

You will also be required to take notes during the presentations on the day you are not presenting. You will be asked to write a longer blog post (due March 6) comparing your orature with that of another group presenting on your off-day.


Tuesday, February 28

Group 1 : German, English, Irish Folktales

  • Hang Jie
  • Kumar
  • Linda

Group 2: Three Anansi Stories

  • Mark
  • Shunan
  • Ying

Group 3: US Slave Story & US Slave Spirituals and Secular Songs

  • Yanmei
  • Brayan
  • Minji


Friday, March 3

Group 4: Malagasy Wisdom Poetry

  • Ziyi
  • Kervin
  • Guoxiong

Group 5: Hawaiian Folktale

  • Kate
  • Aaron
  • Juhui

Group 6: Navajo Ceremony

  • Domenica
  • Jay
  • Junmo