The storyteller stands at the crossroads of orality and performance, surrounded by a circle of rapt listeners. Evelyn Birge Vitz has challenged a generation of scholars to join the circle, listen as they read, and exchange pen for performance. A tribute to her work, the fifteen essays in this volume attend to the qualities of voice, their registers and dynamics, whether practiced or impromptu, falsified, overlapping, interrupted or whispered. They examine how the book became a performance venue and reshaped the storyteller's image and authority, and they investigate the mutability of stories that move from book to book, place to place and among competing cultures to stimulate cultural and political change. They show storytelling as far more than entertainment, but central to law, religious ritual and teaching, as well as the primary mode of delivering news. Themes that crisscross the volume include tensions among amateurs and professionals, dominant and minority languages and cultures, women and children's engagement with storytelling, animality, religion, translation, travel, didacticism and entertainment.
Kathryn A. Duys is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English and Foreign Languages at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois; Elizabeth Emery is Professor of French and Graduate Coordinator at Montclair State University; Laurie Postlewate is Senior Lecturer in French at Barnard College of Columbia University.
Contributors: Elizabeth Archibald, Maureen Boulton, Cristian Bratu, Simonetta Cochis, Joyce Coleman, Mark Cruse, Kathryn A. Duys, Elizabeth Emery, Marilyn Lawrence, Kathleen Loysen, Laurie Postlewate, Nancy Freeman Regalado, Samuel N. Rosenberg, E. Gordon Whatley, Linda Marie Zaerr.