World Oral Literature Series

  • Book Series
  • 9 issues
  • ISSN Print: 2050-7933
  • ISSN Digital: 2054-362X

We are proud to produce the unique and timely World Oral Literature series in partnership with the World Oral Literature Project, directed by Mark Turin at the University of British Columbia. Including some of our most-read titles, this long-running series was designed to preserve and promote the oral literatures of Indigenous people by publishing materials on endangered traditions in innovative, responsive, ethical and culturally-appropriate ways. Situated at the intersection of anthropology, folklore, linguistics and information studies, the study of oral genres is an exciting and fast-developing field, but one with few publishing outlets. We work with researchers to locate opportunities and principled strategies for including recordings of the oral literatures contained in their monographs and edited collections, thus helping to preserve the richness and contextual meaning of oral narratives in ways that invite critical engagement with questions of representation and reuse.

Oral Literature in Africa - cover image
  • African Studies
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Literature
  • Other languages

Oral Literature in Africa

  • Ruth Finnegan
Ruth Finnegan’s Oral Literature in Africa was first published in 1970, and since then has been widely praised as one of the most important books in its field. Based on years of fieldwork, the study traces the history of storytelling across the continent of Africa. This revised edition makes Finnegan’s ground-breaking research available to the next generation of scholars. It includes a new introduction, additional images and an updated bibliography, as well as its original chapters on poetry, prose, ‘drum language’ and drama, and an overview of the social, linguistic and historical background of oral literature in Africa.
Oral Literature in the Digital Age: Archiving Orality and Connecting with Communities - cover image
  • African Studies
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Digital Humanities
  • Literature
  • Other languages

Oral Literature in the Digital Age: Archiving Orality and Connecting with Communities

  • Mark Turin
  • Claire Wheeler
  • Eleanor Wilkinson
Thanks to ever-greater digital connectivity, interest in oral traditions has grown beyond that of researcher and research subject to include a widening pool of global users. This book explores the political repercussions of studying marginalised languages; the role of online tools in ensuring responsible access to sensitive cultural materials; and ways of ensuring that when digital documents are created, they are not fossilized as a consequence of being archived. This book is an essential guide and handbook for ethnographers, field linguists, community activists, curators, archivists, librarians, and all who connect with indigenous communities to document and preserve oral traditions.
Storytelling in Northern Zambia: Theory, Method, Practice and Other Necessary Fictions - cover image
  • African Studies
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Literature
  • Other languages

Storytelling in Northern Zambia: Theory, Method, Practice and Other Necessary Fictions

  • Robert Cancel
A collection and analysis of the oral narrative traditions of northern Zambia, this innovative book integrates audio and video recordings into the text. Robert Cancel’s critical interpretation, meanwhile, makes his work a much-needed addition to the slender corpus of African folklore studies dealing with storytelling performance. Cancel threads his way between the complex demands of African fieldwork studies, folklore theory, narrative modes, reflexive description and documentation, and brings to the reader a vivid, varied and instructive array of performances. His study tells us not only about storytelling but sheds light on the study of oral literatures throughout Africa and beyond.
How to Read a Folktale: The 'Ibonia' Epic from Madagascar - cover image
  • African Studies
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Literature
  • Other languages

How to Read a Folktale: The 'Ibonia' Epic from Madagascar

  • Lee Haring
This book offers an English translation of Ibonia, a spellbinding tale of old Madagascar. Recorded when the Malagasy people were first experiencing European contact, Ibonia proclaims the power of the ancestors against the foreigner. Its fairytale elements link it with European folktales, but the story is nonetheless very much a product of Madagascar. Inflating the folktale form to epic proportions, it combines African-style praise poetry with Indonesian-style riddles and poems. Through Ibonia, Lee Haring expertly helps readers to understand the very nature of folktales, connecting this exotic narrative with fundamental questions not only of anthropology but also of literary criticism.
Xiipúktan (First of All): Three Views of the Origins of the Quechan People - cover image
  • American and Latin American Studies
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Other languages

Xiipúktan (First of All): Three Views of the Origins of the Quechan People

  • George Bryant
  • Amy Miller
Creation myths form the backdrop against which much of the Quechan tribe’s oral literature may be understood. At one time there were almost as many versions of the Quechan creation story as there were Quechan families. Now few people remember them. This volume, presented in the Quechan language with facing-column translation, provides three views of the origins of the Quechan people. This collection is for the Quechan people and will also interest linguists, anthropologists, oral literature specialists, and anyone curious about Native American culture.
Stories from Quechan Oral Literature - cover image
  • American and Latin American Studies
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Literature
  • Other languages

Stories from Quechan Oral Literature

  • A.M. Halpern
  • Amy Miller
This book makes a long-awaited contribution to the oral literature and mythology of the American Southwest, and its format and organization are of special interest. Narratives are presented in the original language and in the storytellers’ own words. Facing-page English translation provides a key to the original Quechan for the benefit of language learners. In presenting not just stories but story complexes, this volume captures the art of storytelling and illuminates the complexity and interconnectedness of an important body of oral literature.
Searching for Sharing: Heritage and Multimedia in Africa - cover image
  • African Studies
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Digital Humanities
  • Material Culture

Searching for Sharing: Heritage and Multimedia in Africa

  • Daniela Merolla
  • Mark Turin
In a world where new technologies are being developed at a dizzying pace, how can we best approach oral genres that represent heritage? Taking an innovative and interdisciplinary approach, this volume explores the idea of sharing as a model to construct and disseminate the knowledge of literary heritage with the people who are represented by and in it.
Long Narrative Songs from the Mongghul of Northeast Tibet: Texts in Mongghul, Chinese, and English - cover image
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Asian Studies
  • Literature
  • Other languages

Long Narrative Songs from the Mongghul of Northeast Tibet: Texts in Mongghul, Chinese, and English

  • Li Dechun
  • Gerald Roche
Containing ballads of martial heroism, tales of tragic lovers and visions of the nature of the world, Long Narrative Songs from the Mongghul of Northeast Tibet: Texts in Mongghul, Chinese, and English is a rich repository of songs collected amongst the Mongghul of the Seven Valleys, on the northeast Tibetan Plateau in western China.
Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham's The Old Days of the Khasis - cover image
  • Anthropology, Archaeology and Religion
  • Asian Studies
  • Literature
  • Other languages

Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham's The Old Days of the Khasis

  • Soso Tham
  • Janet Hujon
Poet of landscape, myth and memory, Soso Tham paid rich and poignant tribute to his tribe in his masterpiece The Old Days of the Khasis. Janet Hujon’s vibrant new translation presents the English reader with Tham’s long poem, which keeps a rich cultural tradition of the Khasi people alive through its retelling of old narratives and acts as a cultural signpost for their literary identity.