Volume 33 of Oral Tradition published online by the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature marks the transition of the journal under a new home at Harvard University.
From the Editors’ Column
The present issue contains five essays that illustrate individually the vitality of the study of oral tradition, and collectively its scope. The issue opens with an essay on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Shem Miller, who demonstrates the power of John Miles Foley’s methodology to recover traces of oral performance even from texts of the distant past. Timothy Thurston, applying related methodologies to contemporary Tibetan wedding speeches, explores ways in which auspiciousness can be created in performance by forms of traditional referentiality. There follows a sequence of three essays, each of which engages with the legacy of Milman Parry, the Harvard scholar whose work on Homeric poetry and South Slavic epic song laid the foundation for so much contemporary research on oral traditions. Texts collected by Parry in the former Yugoslavia provide the primary evidence for Milan Vidaković, who examines the quasi-magical power of questions—an otherwise unassuming class of utterances—to assert power over others. Richard Hughes Gibson assesses the effect of Parry’s ideas about Homeric style on the translation of the Homeric poems into English. Finally, Steve Reece considers accounts of Parry’s own life and tragic death as instances of a contemporary oral-and-written tradition, which he tests against documentary evidence.
Oral Tradition is an open-access journal devoted to the study of the world’s oral traditions, past and present. Reaching a diverse and global audience, the journal publishes articles that explore the vitality of words spoken, sung, or performed, and the traditions of creative expression in which they thrive.