Issue 1

The Homer Multitext and the System of Homeric Epic

The work of Milman Parry and Albert Lord demonstrated that the oral tradition of the Homeric epics is a system that is good and useful for composition-in-performance and that also creates meaning for the audience in a special way. While some oral traditions for which Parry and Lord’s work has… Read more

Common Grief: Weeping Over Hector and Rāma

One of the main advantages of the line of inquiry opened by the path-breaking works of Milman Parry and Albert Lord is its comparative dimension. [1] Formula and theme became not only distinct matrices for analyzing a given epic text or a given tradition; these… Read more

Heroes and Their Snakes

In the The Singer of Tales, Albert Lord only briefly mentions the famous traditional ballad of “Marko and Musa,” the earliest printed version of which was collected by Vuk Karadžić from Tešan Podrugović of Gacko, Hercegovina in 1815. [1] (Versions were collected by Milman Parry… Read more

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