• Oral Tradition and Internet Technology by John Miles Foley

No book, oral tradition, or website is self-contained. Questions seek answers, answers beget more questions, and ideas evolve in unpredictable ways. As a gesture toward what the Pathways Project provokes, I offer a brief and highly selective list of resources that will assist the reader or surfer in following out some of the issues and proposals raised by the book and wiki-website.


These references are provided according to a carefully designed policy: “Further Reading” is intended not as a conventional academic bibliography, but primarily as an optional extension of the Project to serve the needs of non-specialists. In other words, there is no attempt to include “all” relevant books, articles, and sites on any subject (an illusion in any case), and I have specifically excluded items that demand an expert’s preparation. Within this policy, the Further Reading section emphasizes resources on oral tradition, since that is my principal field and since of the three agoras or marketplaces it is the oAgora that in my experience usually requires the most explanation. The Project’s dependence on Wikipedia and other electronic entries is intentional, both because of the ready availability of primary information and the second-level opportunities presented by those entries’ links out to other eAgora-based information. We have tried to insure against broken links and discontinued sites by creating PDF versions of all first-level site-contents exterior to the Project itself. As with any aspect of the Pathways Project, this section is open-ended, suggestive, and eligible for ongoing development through the website.

On matters associated with the oAgora, the online journal Oral Tradition offers more than 500 articles on the world’s oral traditions, from ancient times to the present; this amounts to 25 years of contents on an open-access, free-of-charge platform that supports search by keyword, author, and combinations of terms. In addition, a Summative Bibliography, also open-access, free-of-charge, and searchable, collects every book, article, film, audio recording, or other material ever cited in the journal, and an annotated bibliography of the oral-formulaic theory is likewise available on the same terms.


Albert Bates and Mary Louise Lord Collection, University of Missouri

Ali, Samer M. Arabic Literary Salons is the Islamic Middle Ages: Poetry, Public Performance, and the Presentation of the Past. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.

Allt, Peter and Russell K. Alspach, The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W. B. Yeats (New York: Macmillan, 1957).

Amodio, Mark. Writing the Oral Tradition: Oral Poetics and Literate Culture in Medieval England. University of Notre Dame Press, 2004.

Bagby, Benjamin. Beowulf (DVD), produced by Jon Aaron and Charlie Morrow. New York: Other Media, 2007.

Bauman, Richard, ed. Explorations in the Ethnography of Speaking. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

——-. Verbal Art as Performance. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 1977.

——-. Story, Performance, and Event: Contextual Studies of Oral Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

——- and Charles Briggs. Voices of Modernity: Language Ideologies and the Politics of Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Bertsozale Elkartea. Eds., Basque Oral Traditions. A special issue of Oral Tradition, 22, ii (2007). Available online

Bjork, Robert E. and John D. Niles. Eds., A Beowulf Handbook. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Boyarin, Jonathan, ed. The Ethnography of Reading. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993.

Bradbury, Nancy Mason. Writing Aloud: Storytelling in Late Medieval England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

Brill de Ramírez, Susan Berry. Contemporary American Indian Literatures and the Oral Tradition. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999.

Brown, Duncan. Voicing the Text: South African Oral Poetry and Performance. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Cavallo, Guglielmo, and Roger Chartier. A History of Reading in the West, trans. by Lydia G. Cochrane. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.

Clanchy, M. T. From Memory to Written Record, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

Daniels, Peter D. and William Bright. Eds., The World’s Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Davies, Sioned. “Storytelling in Medieval Wales,” Oral Tradition, 7(1992): 231-257. Available online

DuBois, Thomas A. Finnish Folk Poetry and the Kalevala. New York: Garland, 1995.

——-. Lyric, Meaning, and Audience in the Oral Tradition of Northern Europe. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

Eleveld, Mark. The Spoken Word Revolution. Napierville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Media Fusion, 2005.

Evers, Larry and Barre Toelken. Eds., Native American Oral Traditions: Collaboration and Interpretation. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2001. Orig. publ. as a special issue of Oral Tradition, 13, i (1998). Available online

Finnegan, Ruth. Oral Poetry: Its Nature, Significance, and Social Context. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

——-. Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection. London: Routledge, 2002.

——-. The Oral and Beyond: Doing Things with Words in Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

——- and Margaret Orbell. Eds., South Pacific Oral Traditions. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. Orig. publ. as a special issue of Oral Tradition, 5, ii-iii (1990). Available online

Foley, John Miles. Traditional Oral Epic: The Odyssey, Beowulf, and the Serbo-Croatian Return Song. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990. Rpt. 1993.

——-. Immanent Art: From Structure to Aesthetics in Traditional Oral Epic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

——-. The Singer of Tales in Performance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

——-. Ed., Teaching Oral Traditions. New York: Modern Language Association, 1998.

——-. “The Impossibility of Canon.” In Foley 1998: 13-33.

——-. Homer’s Traditional Art. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

——-. How to Read an Oral Poem. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002. With eCompanion

——-. Ed. and trans., The Wedding of Mustajbey’s Son Bećirbey as Performed by Halil Bajgorić. Folklore Fellows Communications, 283. Helsinki: Academic Scientiarum Fennica. eEdition online

——-. “Epic as Genre.” In The Cambridge Companion to Homer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. 171-187.

——-. Ed., A Companion to Ancient Epic. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

——-. “Analogues: Modern Oral Epics.” In Foley 2005: 196-212.

——-. ”’Reading Homer’ through Oral Tradition,” College Literature, 34.2 (2007): 1-28.

Foster, H. Wakefield. “Jazz Musicians and South Slavic Oral Epic Bards.” Oral Tradition, 19 (2004): 155-176. Available online

Furniss, Graham. Orality: The Power of the Spoken Word. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Garner, Lori. “Anglo-Saxon Charms in Performance.” Oral Tradition, 19 (2004): 20-42. Available online

——-. Structuring Spaces: Oral Poetics and Architecture in Early Medieval England. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011.

Gay, Joshua. Ed., Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman. Boston: Free Software Foundation, 2002.

Goody, Jack. The Interface between the Written and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Garzía, Joxerra, Jon Sarasua, and Andoni Egaña. The Art of Bertsolaritza: Improvised Basque Verse Singing. Donostia: Bertsozale Elkartea, 2001.

Haring, Lee. Ed., African Oral Traditions. A special issue of Oral Tradition, 9, i (1994). Available online

Harris, Joseph C. “The Icelandic Sagas.” In Foley 1998: 382-390.

Harris, William V. Ancient Literacy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Hearon, Holly. “The Implications of ‘Orality’ for Studies of the Biblical Text.” Oral Tradition, 19 (2004): 96-107. Available online

Homer Multitext Project

Honko, Lauri. Ed., Textualization of Oral Epics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2000.

——-, with Chinappa Gowda, Anneli Honko, and Viveka Rai. Eds. and trans., The Siri Epic as Performed by Gopala Naika, 2 vols. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1998.

Houston, Stephen D. Ed., The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Hymes, Dell. ”In Vain I Tried to Tell You”: Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981.

——-. ”Now I Know Only So Far”: Essays in Ethnopoetics. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

Irwin, Bonnie D. “The Frame Tale East and West,” in Foley 1998: 391-399.

Jackson, Bruce. Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: African-American Narrative Poetry from the Oral Tradition. New York: Routledge, 2004. With CD.

Jaffee, Martin S. “The Hebrew Scriptures.” In Foley 1998: 321-329.

——-. Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 B.C.E.-400 C.E. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

James, Clive. Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts. New York: Norton, 2007.

Johnson, John William. The Epic of Son-Jara: A West African Tradition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

——-. Thomas A. Hale, and Stephen Belcher. Eds., Oral Epics from Africa: Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

Jordan, Tim. Cyberpower: The Culture and Politics of Cyberspace and the Internet. London and New York: Routledge, 2001.

Kaschula, Russell H. “Mandela Comes Home: The Poets’ Perspective,” Oral Tradition, 10 (1995): 91-110. Available online

——-. The Bones of the Ancestors are Shaking: Xhosa Oral Poetry in Context. Cape Town: Juta Press, 2000.

Kelber, Werner H. The Oral and The Written Gospel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

——- and Paula Sanders. Eds., Oral Tradition in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A special issue of Oral Tradition, 25, i (2010). Available online

Klein, Anne C. “Oral Genres and the Art of Reading in Tibet.” Oral Tradition, 9 (1994): 281-314. Available online

Kolsti, John. The Bilingual Singer: A Study in Albanian and Serbo-Croatian Oral Epic Traditions. New York: Garland, 1990.

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity. Penguin, 2005. Available online

——-. code 2.0. createspace.com, 2009. Available online

——-. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: Penguin, 2009.

Lindahl, Carl. “Chaucer.” In Foley 1998: 359-364.

Lord, Albert Bates. Trans., The Wedding of Smailagić Meho, by Avdo Medjedović. Serbo-Croatian Heroic Songs, vol. 3. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974.

——-. Epic Singers and Oral Tradition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.

——-. The Singer Resumes the Tale, ed. by Mary Louise Lord. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995.

——-. The Singer of Tales, 2nd ed. with introduction by Stephen A. Mitchell and Gregory Nagy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. With CD.

Martin, Henri-Jean. The History and Power of Writing, trans. by Lydia G. Cochrane. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Martin, Richard P. The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.

——-. “Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.” In Foley 1998: 339-350.

McCarthy, William B. The Ballad Matrix: Personality, Milieu, and the Oral Tradition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.

——- and W. Terrence Gordon. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Berkeley, Cal.: Gingko Press, 2003.

——- and Quentin Fiore. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Berkeley, Cal.: Gingko Press, 2005.

Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature, Harvard University

Nagy, Joseph Falaky. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011.

Nagy, Gregory. Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Niditch, Susan. Oral World and Written Word: Ancient Israelite Literature. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

——-. Folklore and the Hebrew Bible. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2004.

Niles, John D. Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Literature. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

O’Brien O’Keeffe, Katherine. Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Okpewho, Isidore. African Oral Literature: Backgrounds, Character, and Continuity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

Olsen, Alexandra Hennessey. ”Beowulf.” In Foley 1998: 351-358.

Ong, Walter J. Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977.

——-. Fighting for Life: Context, Sexuality, and Consciousness. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.

——-. Orality & Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, 1982.

Opland, Jeff. Xhosa Oral Poetry: Aspects of a Black South African Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Parry, Milman. The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry, ed. by Adam Parry. Oxford University Press, 1987.

Reichl, Karl. Turkic Oral Epic Poetry: Tradition, Forms, Poetic Structure. New York: Garland, 1992.

——-. Singing the Past: Turkic and Medieval Heroic Poetry. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000.

Renoir, Alain. A Key to Old Poems: The Oral-Formulaic Approach to the Interpretation of West-Germanic Verse. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988.

Rosenberg, Bruce A. Can These Bones Live? The Art of the American Folk Preacher. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Rubin, David C. Memory and Oral Traditions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Saenger, Paul. Space between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Schmandt-Besserat, Denise. How Writing Came About. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.

Shuman, Amy. Storytelling Rights: The Uses of Oral and Written Texts by Urban Adolescents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Smith, John D. “Worlds Apart: Orality, Literacy, and the Rajasthani Folk-Mahabharata.” Oral Tradition, 5 (1990): 3-19. Available online

——-. The Epic of Pabuji. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Smith, Mark Kelly and Joe Kraynak. Take the Mic: The Art of Performance Poetry, Slam, and the Spoken Word. Napierville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Media Fusion, 2009.

Stock, Brian. The Implications of Literacy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Tannen, Deborah. Spoken and Written Language: Exploring Orality and Literacy. New York: Ablex, 1982.

Tedlock, Dennis. The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.

——-. Finding the Center: The Art of the Zuni Storyteller, 2nd ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Tapscott, Don and Anthony D. Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. New York: Penguin, 2010.

Toelken, Barre. “The ‘Pretty Language’ of Yellowman: Genre, Mode, and Texture in Navaho Coyote Performances.” Genre, 2 (1969): 211-235.

——-. “Life and Death in the Navaho Coyote Tales.” In Recovering the Word: Essays on Native American Literature, ed. by Brian Swann and Arnold Krupat. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987. Pp. 388-401.

——-. “Beauty Behind Me; Beauty Before.” Journal of American Folklore, 117 (2004): 441-45.

——- and Tacheeni Scott. “Poetic Retranslation and the ‘Pretty Languages’ of Yellowman.” In Traditional Literatures of the American Indian: Texts and Interpretations, ed. by Karl Kroeber. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981. Pp. 65-116.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Anarchist in the Library. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Vitz, Evelyn Birge. “Old French Literature.” In Foley 1998: 373-381.

Woodard, Roger D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Zedda, Paulu. “The Southern Sardinian Tradition of the Mutetu Longu: A Functional Analysis.” Oral Tradition, 24 (2009): 3-40. Available online

Zemke, John. “General Hispanic Traditions.” In Foley 1998: 202-215.

Zumthor, Paul. Oral Poetry: An Introduction, trans. by Kathryn Murphy-Judy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990.