Native American Oral Literature

The languages, political economies and religious beliefs of Native American peoples are extremely diverse, and so are their tales, orations, songs, chants and other oral genres. Oral works include trickster tales, jokes, naming, grievances and many genres have a spiritual or religious dimension. Most works were not translated into alphabetic forms until long after the arrival of Europeans. Writings before whites arrived was limited and/or later destroyed by the colonizing society. Non alphabetic texts share some of the mnemonic and narrative functions of literature. All literature has roots in the oral arts. From first contact, Europeans were intrigued by indigenous oral performances and sought to translate them into alphabetic written forms. The archive of Native American oral genres continues to expand as new instances are identified in the written record or transcribed in a modern form. Selections for the ninth edition represent some common genres before 1820. All Native peoples have stories of the earliest times. Trickster tales are also among the most ancient elements of Native American cultures. Tricksters can be wandering, bawdy, gluttonous, obscene and a threat to order. They can also be cultural heroes who helped establish the order of the world, thus contributing to creation tales. Tricksters an both create and destroy order. Oratory was the first Native American genre that Europeans recognized as a verbal art. The formalized modes of address that Native Americans used in their early encounters with Europeans were often lavishly described in narratives. Renaissance-era writers included moving and aesthetically pleasing speeches based more or less loosely on memory and other sources. They are reconstructed works of narrative drama. Transcribe author took indigenous forms from their ritual or other performance contexts and brought them in written form to non-Native audiences.

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I'm a doctor of philosophy in Literary and Cultural Studies which makes me interested in everything! I possess special training in text analysis, African American literature, Women and Gender Studies, American lit, World Lit and writing. I work as an assistant professor of English in Memphis.

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