Homer, the Balkans, and the World: Milman Parry, Albert Bates Lord, and the Oral-Formulaic Imaginary

Di05Mär10:00Di14:00Homer, the Balkans, and the World: Milman Parry, Albert Bates Lord, and the Oral-Formulaic ImaginaryAn exploratory workshop with ≈VeranstaltungsartWorkshop


The first person to argue systematically for ‘Homer’ as an oral traditional poet was American classicist Milman Parry, who linked Homeric epic’s formulaic structure to the performances of South Slavic guslars (poets who sang improvised compositions accompanied by the stringed instrument gusle). Parry immersed himself amongst its singers between 1933–35 in sites corresponding to present-day Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia and was accompanied by his research assistant Albert Bates Lord. After Parry’s death, Lord continued the work and developed Parry’s ideas in his own book, The Singer of Tales ensuring a legacy for these ideas as ‘oral-formulaic theory’. This theory began to be applied to classical, late antique, and medieval European literature, including Anglo-Saxon poetry, poetry in non-European language traditions such as classical Arabic, as well as improvised genres including jazz and hip-hop. Parry’s and Lord’s work changed how the classics of European literature could be studied, while crossing spatial and temporal divides to form epistemic bridges between Homeric epic as a building block of European culture, and other literary and compositional traditions worldwide. The workshop will explore the potential of the Parry-Lord oral-formulaic theory to kickstart a rethinking of key academic concepts including orientalism, the denial of the co-eval, peripherality, coloniality of power, and decolonial thought.

Freie Universität Berlin
EXC 2020 “Temporal Communities”
Raum 00.05
Otto-von-Simson-Straße 15
14195 Berlin

Further Information

Please register in advance: s.traenkle@fu-berlin.de

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5. März 2024 10:00 - 14:00(GMT+02:00)

Freie Universität Berlin

Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin