What is oral literature and why must we pay close attention to it given the bounds of our modern, written frameworks? What does it mean to produce literature in a culture that is not “literate” or “lettered?” Is it right to think of our literary history through the dichotomies of “literacy/illiteracy” or “oral/written”? This course will seek to answer these questions by taking a deep look at oral consciousness – the internalization of an oral culture where the written text is often subservient to traditions of oral transmission. We shall consider how orality affects the ways in which the oral singer produces literature , how she engages with her tradition, and ultimately, her world. Consulting oral compositions from a variety of traditional settings, the course will be an opportunity to gain exposure to unique literary contexts, various performative strategies, and general theoretical approaches in the field of oral studies.

The course will revolve around six modules relating to different subtopics and/or cultural traditions. In addition to texts, and especially given the significance of performance in oral theory, the course will also include live renditions and audio-visual materials to facilitate our appreciation of the oral composition.

Although the course will engage in a comparative study of oral literature from different traditions, all texts will be presented with accompanying English translations. As such, there are no pre-requisites for this class.

Dates & Time:

5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 13

Wednesday, January 15

Friday, January 17 

Monday, January 20

Wednesday, January 22

Friday, January 24



Course Lead:

Sheza Atiq