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Performances, Texts, and Contexts: Olaus Sirma, Johan Turi, and the Dilemma of Reifying a Context-Dependent Oral Tradition

The Sámi writers Olaus Sirma and Johan Turi described Sámi song tradition for a non-Sámi audience through elaborate narratives of contextualization. The present article examines these narratives from the perspective of Sámi music, underscoring the insights they offer for the study of richly context-dependent genres. Understandably, perhaps necessarily, the earliest… Read more

Tracking the South Slavic Epic Register

The Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature, housed in Harvard University’s Widener Library, offers a unique window into the past, and specifically into the world of Yugoslav oral epic as it existed in the 1930s among a non-literate population. Thanks to Milman Parry’s foresight, scholarly rigor, and perseverance, the materials… Read more

Pindar and the Poetics of the Athlete

One paradox of the study of ancient Greek athletics is that the epinikian odes of Pindar remain a prime source for us, despite revealing so little about the specifics of the events they celebrate. Much of what the poet does tell us comes by way of a highly stylized art… Read more

Homer, The Olympics, and the Heroic Ethos

[[Originally published in The Olympic Games in Antiquity: Bring Forth Rain and Bear Fruit, eds. M. Kaila et al. (Athens: Atrapos, 2004) 61–91]] Sports are by definition public events, events of the stadium, and thus events which in some ways serve as a mirror for activity in the public sphere… Read more