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Folklore: A. B. Lord Centenary Today

Owen Woodson 15 Sep 12 - 05:59 AM
peregrina 15 Sep 12 - 07:30 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Sep 12 - 04:36 PM
Owen Woodson 16 Sep 12 - 05:59 AM
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Subject: Folklore: A. B. Lord Centenary Today
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 15 Sep 12 - 05:59 AM

I've just been told that today is the centenary of the birth of Albert Bates Lord, author of the book, The Singer of Tales and protagonist of the oral-formulaic theory of oral-epic performance.

To be precise, the news came via the following email from John Zemke, Director of the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition.

"In recognition of the centennial anniversary of the birth of Albert Bates Lord on September 15, 1912 in Boston, Massachusetts, it is my honor and pleasure to invite you to remember some of his magnificent contributions to our fields of study. Professor Lord published two works in Oral Tradition, "Perspectives on Recent Work on the Oral Traditional Formula" (1986) and "Characteristics of Orality" (1987). "A Bibliography of Publications by Albert Bates Lord" (2010) provides a perspective on the breadth of his work.

The Lord Collection comprises the personal libraries of Albert Bates Lord and Mary Louis Lord and is available at Ellis Library at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Online for the first time is a video of the late John Miles Foley's lecture "Albert Lord and the Study of Oral Traditions" delivered February 10, 2011 as part of the dedication ceremony for the Lord Collection.

Professor Foley published "Obituary: Albert Bates Lord (1912-1991)" in Journal of American Folklore 105 (Winter, 1992), pp. 57-65. Characterizing one of Professor Lord's many accomplishments he stated the essential matter: "Lord changed the way we think about verbal art, profoundly and permanently." (59).

With best wishes,
John Zemke, Director
Center for Studies in Oral Tradition"

I presume the bit about Lord only publishing two books on oral tradition is a typo, but there's clearly a lot there worth looking for.

Here's the URLs for the stuff listed in the email. Forgive me for not turning them in clickies.

Presentation by John Miles Foley.
http://issot.org/events/lord Albert Lord and the Study of Oral Tradition .

The Journal of Oral Tradition
http://journal.oraltradition.org/issues/1iii/lord

Perspectives on Recent Work on the Oral Traditional Formula http://journal.oraltradition.org/issues/1iii/lord

Characteristics of Orality .
http://journal.oraltradition.org/issues/2i/lord

A Bibliography of Publications by Albert Bates Lord
http://journal.oraltradition.org/issues/25ii/grey

The Lord Collection
http://oraltradition.org/articles/lord_collection

Obituary: Albert Bates Lord (1912-1991)John Miles Foley
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/541999?uid=3738032&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101049700413


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Subject: RE: Folklore: A. B. Lord Centenary Today
From: peregrina
Date: 15 Sep 12 - 07:30 AM

Worth remembering, thank you for posting, Owen.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: A. B. Lord Centenary Today
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Sep 12 - 04:36 PM

Please forgive ignorance. I'm aware of Lord's work on oral formulaic re-creation in the Balkans, but did he actually collect any English language material.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: A. B. Lord Centenary Today
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 16 Sep 12 - 05:59 AM

Not as such. He collected epics in the Balkans, but you'd be hard pushed nowadays to find many epic singers in East Anglia or the Southern Appalachians.

He did however study Beowulf, which was hardly English language, but which does have some claim to being our only English epic.

Also, the oral-formulaic theory has spilled over into many other areas of oral transmission, not the least of which are the ballads. See for instance Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe; David Buchan, The Ballad and the Folk; and Bill McCarthy, the Ballad Matrix.

But also see The Oral-Formulaic Theory of Balladry - A Rebuttal by Albert B Friedman.

Apologies if any of this is wrong or vague, but epic poetry is not something I've looked into for many years and it's still early morning in the Woodson household.

Just a thought. Millman Parry (Lord's predecessor in oral-formulaic theory) and Lord himself, influenced a number of younger oral epic scholars. But I'm wondering if there's ever been a full discussion of the Parry-Lord thesis, as it's also known. A set of conference papers perhaps.


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