New Publication: Oral Literary Performance in Africa: Beyond Text

Co-edited by Nduka Otiono and Chiji Akọma

Book Description

This book delivers an admirably comprehensive and rigorous analysis of African oral literatures and performance.

Gathering insights from distinguished scholars in the field, the book provides a range of contemporary interdisciplinary perspectives in the study of oral literature and its transformations in everyday life, fiction, poetry, popular culture, and postcolonial politics. Topics discussed include folklore and folklife; oral performance and masculinities; intermediated orality, modern transformations, and globalisation; orality and mass media; spoken word and imaginative writing. The book also addresses research methodologies and the thematic and theoretical trajectories of scholars of African oral literatures, looking back to the trailblazing legacies of Ruth Finnegan, Harold Scheub, and Isidore Okpewho.

Ambitious in scope and incisive in its analysis, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of African literatures and oral performance as well as to general readers interested in the dynamics of cultural production.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Heritage of African Oral Literary Performance Studies

Nduka Otiono and Chiji Akọma

Part I: Recapturing Tradition: The Oral Performance in Transition

  1. Elfrieda Binga’s “Berseba”: Constructing History and Identity in a Rural Namibian Village–Hein Willemse
  2. “The Crocodile’s Wife”: Content and Communication Strategy in A Tale of Transformations–Ernst R. Wendland
  3. ‘The aged, the infirm and the effeminate’: Rhetorical Strategies in Election Rally Songs from Nigeria and Lesotho–Chris Dunton
  4. Orality, Masculinities and Narrative Strategies in The Arabian NightsNduka Otiono
  5. Translation of African Oral Narrative-performances to the Written Word–Harold Scheub
  6. Asiyefunzwa na Wazazi na Mzuka Swahili Supernatural Homiletics in an Age of Promiscuity–Aaron Rosenberg
  7. History, Mofolo’s Chaka, and the Postcolonial “Bastard”–Obiwu
  8. Globalisation of Sango: Wole Soyinka’s Adaptation of Oedipus at ColonusFemi Euba
  9. African Verbal Arts Online: Intermediality and “Technauriture”–Daniela Merolla
  10. Writer-Reader Interaction in Newspaper Serial Writing in Tanzania: The Transformation of an Oral Storytelling Mode–Uta Reuster-Jahn
  11. The Manipulation of Verbal Folklore Genres in Mass Media Communication–Rosaleen O. B. Nhlekisana
  12. Go Fetisa Lekoalo/Beyond Literature: Orality, Poetry and Music in Post-apartheid Spoken Word Poetry–Raphael d’Abdon
  13. Isidore Okpewho – An Intellectual Portrait–F. Abiola Irele
  14. In Praise of Counter-Hegemony: Isidore Okpewho and the Alternative Discourse in African (Oral) Literature–James Tar Tsaaior
  15. Isidore Okpewho: Scholarship, Imaginative Writing, and the Assertion of the African Sensibility–J.O.J. Nwachukwu-Agbada
  16. Choosing Two Sides Equally: An Interview with Isidore Okpewho–Chiji Akọma


TIME FOR THE WORLD TO LEARN FROM AFRICA (Hearing Others’ Voices) Ruth Finnegan

It is a common notion that Africa has, and indeed ought to have, learned much from the west. This is not wrong; all cultures rightly learn from each other. But less is said of what there is to learn from Africa: from her stories, myths, music, proverbs, insights – and more. Here an acclaimed African scholar steps into the gap by uncovering for us something of the great legacy of African thought and practice in ways that will astonish many. Written with verve and authority and directed above all to students and sixth formers, this book will also delight and often surprise those who know something of Africa as well as those hitherto ignorant.

Storytelling in Northern Zambia: Theory, Method, Practice and Other Necessary Fictions Robert Cancel

Storytelling plays an important part in the vibrant cultural life of Zambia and in many other communities across Africa. 

innovative book provides a collection and analysis of oral narrative traditions as practiced by five Bemba-speaking ethnic groups in Zambia. The integration of newly digitalised audio and video recordings into the text enables the reader to encounter the storytellers themselves and hear their narratives.

Robert Cancel’s thorough critical interpretation, combined with these newly digitalised audio and video materials, makes Storytelling in Northern Zambia a much needed addition to the slender corpus of African folklore studies that deal with storytelling performance. Cancel threads his way between the complex demands of African fieldwork studies, folklore theory, narrative modes, reflexive description and simple documentation and succeeds in bringing to the reader a set of performers and their performances that are vivid, varied and instructive. He illustrates this living narrative tradition with a wide range of examples, and highlights the social status of narrators and the complex local identities that are at play. Cancel’s study tells us not only about storytelling but sheds light on the study of oral literatures throughout Africa and beyond. Its innovative format, meanwhile, explores new directions in the integration of primary source material into scholarly texts. This book is the third volume in the World Oral Literature Series, developed in conjunction with the World Oral Literature Project.

Series: World Oral Literature Series (Book 3)
Publisher: Open Book Publishers (2013)
ISBN: 9781909254596 

The Caribbean Oral Tradition: Literature, Performance, and Practice Hanétha Vété-Congolo

The book uses an innovative prism of interorality that powerfully reevaluates Caribbean orality and innovatively casts light on its overlooked and fundamental epistemological contribution into the formation of Caribbean philosophy. It defines the innovative prism of interorality as the systematic transposition of previously composed storytales into new and distinct tales.

The book offers a powerful consideration of the interconnections between Caribbean orality and Caribbean philosophy, especially as this pertains to aesthetics and ethics. This is a new area of thought, a new methodological approach and a new conceptual paradigm and proposition to scholars, students, writers, artists and intellectuals who conceive and examine intellectual and cultural productions in the Black Atlantic world and beyond.

Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan (2016)
ISBN: 978-3-319-32087-8



Searching for Sharing: Heritage and Multimedia in Africa Edited by Daniela Merolla and Mark Turin

In a world where new technologies are being developed at a dizzying pace, how can we best approach oral genres that represent heritage? Taking an innovative and interdisciplinary approach, this volume explores the idea of sharing as a model to construct and disseminate the knowledge of literary heritage with the people who are represented by and in it. Expert contributors interweave sociological analysis with an appraisal of the transformative impact of technology on literary and cultural production. Does technology restrict, constraining the experience of an oral performance, or does it afford new openings for different aesthetic experiences? Topics explored include the Mara Cultural Heritage Digital Library, the preservation of Ewe heritage material, new e-resources for texts in Manding languages, and the possibilities of technauriture. This timely and necessary collection also examines to what extent digital documents can be and have been institutionalised in archives and museums, how digital heritage can remain free from co-option by hegemonic groups, and the roles that exist for community voices. A valuable contribution to a fast-developing field, this book is required reading for scholars and students in the fields of heritage, anthropology, linguistics, history and the emerging disciplines of multi-media documentation and analysis, as well as those working in the field of literature, folklore, and African studies. It is also important reading for museum and archive curators.

Series: World Oral Literature Series (Book 7 )

Publisher: Open Book Publishers (May 15, 2017)

ISBN: 9781783743186

Afrikaanse Letterkunde: Tradities, genres, auteurs en ontwikkelingen. Mineke Schipper; Daniela Merolla; Inge Brinkman

Afrikaanse letterkunde, published in May 2019, is a brand new edition at Amsterdam University Press. Mineke Schipper first published the book in 1983 and then in an updated version in 1990.

The new AUP edition was co-written by Mineke Schipper, Daniela Merolla and Inge Brinkman and is so far the one and only handbook of African literature in the Dutch language. It includes new developments in African literatures over the last 25 years, information on literature in African languages, and it explores the literary connections between Africa south of the Sahara and North-Africa.

In June 2019, the book received very favorable reviews in one of the major Dutch national newspapers, Trouw: “It is not easy to present the ever-expanding literatures of the entire African continent in 350 pages. Three scholars take the risk, and this provides good reading tips. By the abundance of knowledge, a beautiful monument for African literatures.”

Publisher: Amsterdam University Press (2019).


Dear ISOLA members: below is the link to the CFP for the 28th edition of the Federation Internationale des Langues et Litteratures Modernes (FILLM) congress scheduled to hold from 26-29 July 2020 at the University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. The theme of the congress is “Linguistic, Literary, and Cultural Diversity in a Global Perspective. ” It would a great idea if ISOLA can propose and present panels at the conference. Thank you!