Africa has long been known as the oral continent, at once the home of oral literature, orature and orality, the oral background to the postcolonial literatures of today, and the inspirer of the voiced traditions of the diaspora. But does this image of Africa and orality still stand up to scrutiny?
In this new synthesis of her earlier and most recent work Ruth Finnegan illustrates the continuing interest of African verbal arts and performances and reflects on the related development of 'orality' studies through the decades since the 1960s. Her provocative conclusion is that it is time to abandon the long-entrenched image of Africa as 'the oral continent' and to adopt a more critical comparative perspective on 'the oral'.
RUTH FINNEGAN, FBA is Visiting Research Professor and Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Open University and is the author of the classic study Oral Literature in Africa
North America: University of Chicago Press; South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press
Introducing words; ENACTING & DISTANCING WORDS IN LIFE & STORY; The reflective practice of speech & language: a West African example; How to do things with words among the Limba; The arts & action of Limba storytelling; Stories of Africa/stories about Africa; PERFORMING LITERATURE; Literature as oral, the oral as literature; Is oral literature composed in performance?; Time, performance & literature; WORKING WITH ORAL TEXTS; Constructing 'Oral Literature in Africa': hindsights a generation later; Creating texts: transformation & enscription; Conceptualising oral texts & beyond; EPILOGUE; Words, the human attribute?; References.