1. For example, earlier works by these two influential folklorists reflect the transitional thinking they were engaged in as “contextualism” emerged in the discipline; see Abrahams 1968, “Introductory Remarks to a Rhetorical Theory of Folklore”; Bauman 1972b, “The La Have Island General Store: Sociability and Verbal Art in a Nova Scotia Community.”
2. Hernadi’s reference (p. 2) is to Gunther Müller, “Bemerkungen zur Gattungspoetik,” Philosophischer Anzeiger 3 (1928): 136.
3. Matthew Arnold, “The Study of Poetry,” an essay first published in 1880.
4. See Tompkins, ed., Reader-Response Criticism, 1980; contributors included in the volume are Walker Gibson, Gerald Prince, Michael Riffaterre, George Poulet, Wolfgang Iser, Stanley Fish, Jonathan Culler, Norman Holland, David Bleich, Walter Benn Michaels, and Jane Tompkins.
5. Specifically, this is a response to the interview reported in Burns 1969, “Involving the Introductory Student of Folklore in the Functional Analysis of the Material He Collects.”
6. Geertz refers to terminology from Heinz Hohut, Analysis of Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders (New York: International Universities Press, 1971).
7. From M. H. Abrams 1981:8, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 4th edition.
8. The “contextualists” were so designated by Richard M. Dorson in his “Introduction” to Folklore and Folklife (1972:45-47), and they were held responsible for apparent changes in the discipline of folklore during the 1960s and 1970s, reflected most clearly in the collection of essays edited by Américo Paredes and Richard Bauman titled Toward New Perspectives in Folklore (1972). A more recent and direct consideration of the role of folklore fieldwork in evoking a more “human” research perspective is People Studying People: The Human Element in Fieldwork, by Robert A. Georges and Michael O. Jones (1980).
9. See also my discussion in “The Personal Narrative as Folklore” (1977b:9-30, 203).
2. The Personal Narrative as an Oral Literary Genre
1. Labov and Waletzky’s 1967 article represents a turning point in American personal narrative research; works published before that date are generally European studies usually cited as theoretical rather than practical predecessors by American researchers. Two notable exceptions are Richard Dorson’s 1952 chapter on the “sagamen” of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Mody Boatright’s 1958 article on the family saga. For a substantial, though not exhaustive, introduction to the range of studies on personal narratives, see relevant Bibliography citations for the following authors: (pre-1967) Bausinger, Blehr, Granberg, Greverus, Honko, Jollés, Neuman, and von Sydow; (post 1967) Abrahams, Agar, Allen and Montell, Bauman, Bennett, Clements, Danielson, Dégh, Dégh and Vázonyi, Dobos, Graham, Ives, Kalčik, Labov, Langness, Leary, Lockwood, McCarl, McDowell, Mitchell, Mintz, Mullen, Nusbaum, Pentikäinen, L. Polanyi, Pratt, Robinson, Santino, Stahl, Stanley, Titon, and Zeitlin.
2. See my discussion of genre theory in folkloristics in Stahl 1980; this discussion represents a response to comments on the earlier (1977a) article on the personal narrative in its generic context.
3. Also much in the structure Propp identifies for the Märchen is particularly reflective of Russian oikotypes of the tales; see Propp 1928, translated 1968.
4. See John Ball’s (1954) discussion of varying dimensions of oral narrative style; and one might speculate whether the concepts of “oikotype” and “topoi” have more to do with style than content (cf. Cochrane 1987).
5. The designation and problem of the Ich-Bericht form (Ego-Account) is discussed in some detail by Linda Dégh and Andrew Vázsonyi (1974).
6. The narrative was recorded on October 17, 1974, at the Do-Drop-Inn in Huntington, Indiana. Present were Larry, my sister Carol, and I. The time of the original incident was Christmas, 1967. “Dudu,” mentioned briefly at the beginning of the story, is Larry’s friend Dave Teusch.
7. Reference is to the nineteenth-century German critic Gustav Freytag, Technique of the Drama (1863).
8. Information and documentation on Jung’s assertion are taken directly from Dégh 1971:56, text and footnotes 2 and 3.
9. See, for example, my discussion of first-person jokes and the intended confusion that results when a fictional account is assumed to be true, in Stahl 1977a: 30-32.
10. Alan Dundes discusses the difference betweeen Propp’s “syntagmatic” and Lévi-Strauss’s “paradigmatic” structuralism in his “Introduction to the Second Edition” of Propp’s Morphology, 1928 :xi-xvii.
3. Interpreting Personal Narrative Texts
1. In discussing anthropological research, Pelto comments further that “a main requirement of the scientific method is that the procedures of the researcher should be clearly (and publicly) specified” (1970:49).
2. I would add interpretive context to the six kinds of field context Richard Bauman surveys in his discussion of “The Field Study of Folklore in Context,” in the Handbook of American Folklore ; see Bauman 1983.
3. Elliott Oring makes the point that “function”—a type of interpretation—cannot be considered an explanation for the origin of the folklore item; see Oring 1976.
4. See Dundes and Abrahams, “On Elephantasy and Elephanticide” (1969); Dundes does refer to this article in a footnote (#4) to the “Wide-Mouth Frog” essay (see Dundes 1980a:62-68).
5. Compare Hall’s (1977:58-60) discussion of cultural contexting with that presented more generally in folkloristic scholarship, e.g., Toelken 1979 or Bauman 1986.
6. One of the more successful discussions of “the new physics” for a popular audience is Gary Zukov’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979); Marvin Harris (1968), in reviewing the history of anthropological study, notes the variety of “deterministic” theories that have played a role in the discipline, including his own brand of cultural materialism.
7. The notion of “folk groups” is intrinsic to the field of folklore study, but a particularly helpful discussion of the applied concept is in Abrahams 1978.
8. This version of “Tiny Wires and the Chicken Blood” was offered in response to my request; my sister, Carol, had heard the story before, but I had not. Present at the time of the recording were Larry, Carol, Mark Stahl, and I; it was told on a Saturday afternoon (February 2, 1974) in the lounge of what used to be the Hotel LaFontaine in Huntington, Indiana. The time of the original incident in the story was 1963.
9. For a definition of idioculture, see Gary Alan Fine (1979), who first introduced the term into folkloristic studies.
10. Pelto 1979:85. The last prerequisite acknowledges the problems of “confounding the emic/etic distinction” as Marvin Harris has described it; the audience-interpreter, in this case, is both subjective and responsible. See Harris 1968:575.
11. This is a slightly different concern with subjectivity from that implicated in what David M. Hayano (1979) terms “self-ethnographic” studies; nevertheless, it is reflective of the general methodological concern in his paper “Auto-ethnography: Paradigms, Problems, and Prospects”; see as well Lowry 1974 and Kirschner 1987.
4. Koo-Nar, King of the Rats
1. See chapter 10, “The Home Territory Bar,” in Cavan 1966:205-33.
2. Distinctions among sex role, sex-role stereotype, sex-role norms, sex-role typing, and sex-role identity are made throughout according to Pleck 1981:10-13.
3. For a discussion of this interesting but esoteric branch of study, see C. Scott Littleton’s review of the “new comparative mythology” (1973).
4. See Archer Taylor’s study of The Shanghi Gesture (1956).
5. See Edward Sagarin’s discussion of the growing “toleration of the monosyllables” (1962:168).
6. Legman quotes Abrahams and Dundes to the effect that “the use of voice qualifiers in castration humor is common.” Typically, the secondary effect is reflected in a high-pitched falsetto; see Dundes and Abrahams 1969:233.
7. See the “folklorized” personal narratives of the Ray brothers in Biebuyck 1977 and the discussion of “lying” in Bauman 1986.
8. Freud’s definition of the term libido is: “In every way analogous to hunger, libido is the force by means of which the instinct, in this case the sexual instinct, as, with hunger, the nutritional instinct, achieves expression”; see Freud 1963:274.
9. See Susan Stewart’s discussion of these four levels of textuality in her book Nonsense (1978).
10. Pratt defines tellability as a “kind of display-producing relevance,” and I think this clearly is the motivation for Larry’s presenting the story and including the dream episode—to produce a relevant display; see Pratt 1977:136-40.
11. See the discussion of separation rites in Arnold Van Gennep’s Rites of Passage (1960:65-115).
12. Dundes says of “folk fallacies”: “The folk are normally consciously aware of folk fallacies (though not necessarily that they are fallacious) and can articulate them without difficulty” (1972:101).
5. The Canary, or The Yellow Dress
1. See the discussion of the two place names in Baker and Carmony 1975:96; 119.
2. For a discussion of the traditional practice of separation among American sectarian offshoots of the Huguenots and Anabaptists, see Hostetler 1963.
3. See the “I asked my mother for fifteen cents” rhyme—often known as “Mary Mack”—in Abrahams 1969b:72; 120.
4. The term is my suggestion. Of the scholars who have discussed formulas in folk narrative, few have commented directly on what to call this particular kind of formula. It is not the formula of epic poetry Lord (1971) discusses since it is not in collective tradition; it is not repeated within the work itself as Gray (1971) suggests (nor is it a convention); it is not simply the “personal style” of the teller as Ball (1954) suggests, though if the story were traditional, the formula might be a part of what Ball calls the “style of the tale itself.” The formula is essential, but to this story alone.
5. Loretta Dolby, “Castles in Spain,” in the National Poetry Anthology, by the Teachers and Librarians in the Schools and Colleges (Los Angeles: National Poetry Association, 1959), p. 158.
6. See my discussion of the use of curse words and their euphemisms in Stahl 1977c.
7. Flexner suggests that by 1910, damned and hell were “not always taken too seriously” (1976:171-73).
8. Compare the simple list of five motifemes with which Dundes represents the basic pattern of African friendship-breaking tales (1971:176).
9. Barbara Babcock (1977) describes the narrative of personal events as the “standard American metanarrational story.”
Epilogue: Hearing Tradition in the Personal Narrative
1. Alan Dundes (1969) claims that folklore research has produced mostly devolutionary theories; compare Stocking’s (1968) discussion of theories in anthropology and some of the earlier interdisciplinary views excerpted in Feldman and Richardson 1972.
2. A work I found useful in balancing the effects of deconstructionism (a discouraging sense of literary indeterminacy) against those of traditional literary criticism (with its acceptance of “tradition” as a component of content) is Michael Fischer’s Does Deconstruction Make any Difference? (1985). In addition, I found Werner Sollors’s Beyond Ethnicity (1986) helpful in balancing a similar sociological dichotomy between inherited culture and culture chosen by the individual.
3. For an interesting discussion of the folklorist’s role in “creating” modern mythology, see Friedman 1971; see also Hufford 1983 on explaining “academic belief.”
4. Dell Hymes’s (1975) notion of “breakthrough into performance”—like Propp’s “function,” Kuhn’s “paradigm,” or Pike’s “emic/etic” dichotomy—is destined to be variously used and perhaps abused by researchers who are attracted to the inherent ambiguity of the concept; my use here does admittedly take liberties with the term.
5. Von Sydow (1948) uses the phrase rein personliche (purely personal) to describe the experience at the base of a nontraditional memorate; see as well my discussion of von Sydow’s definition in Stahl 1977b.