The Powers of Genre

The Powers of Genre : Interpreting Haya Oral Literature

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The Powers of Genre describes a method for interpreting oral literature that enables dialogue between insiders and outsiders to a tradition. Seitel illustrates this method with lively examples from Haya (from Northwestern Tanzania) proverbs, folktales, and heroic verse. He then focuses on a single epic ballad to demonstrate, among other things, why stanzas need not rhyme, and how significance needs time in oral poetry and narrative. He makes a controversial claim that an heroic age, similar to that of Ancient Greece, existed in Sub-Saharan Africa. The work should interest anyone who works in oral literature and narrative - folklorists, literary critics, anthropologists, linguists, and Africanists.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 173.2 x 224.5 x 21.8mm | 632.01g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 019511700X
  • 9780195117004

Review quote

Seitel's argument proceeds elegantly from the simplicity to complexity. After setting out his aims and defining his terms, and introducing the Haya and their oral literature, he offers successive analyses of proverbs, folktales, and heroic ballads, amplifying and extending his techniques on the way. * Journal of American Folklore *
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