Living with Stories

Living with Stories: Telling, Re-telling, and Remembering

Edited by William Schneider
Aron L. Crowell
Estelle Oozevaseuk
Holly Cusack-McVeigh
Sherna Berger Gluck
Lorraine McConaghy
Joanne B. Mulcahy
Kirin Narayan
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cgqdg
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  • Book Info
    Living with Stories
    Book Description:

    In essays about communities as varied as Alaskan Native, East Indian, Palestinian, Mexican, and African American, oral historians, folklorists, and anthropologists look at how traditional and historical oral narratives live through re-tellings, gaining meaning and significance in repeated performances, from varying contexts, through cultural and historical knowing, and due to tellers' consciousness of their audiences.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-690-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)
    William Schneider

    When we open our ears and our minds to oral tradition and personal narratives, we add layers of meaning to the oral history accounts we have stored on our shelves. We can ask, why was this story told at that time? Why was it told to this person? Why does the telling differ with audience and setting? When we are open to these questions, we become more sensitive to implied as well as explicit meanings, and we see how stories may indirectly convey attitudes and beliefs. These expanded areas of contextual analysis broaden the oral historian’s work beyond the words...

  4. 2 The Giant Footprints: A Lived Sense of Story and Place
    (pp. 18-35)
    Holly Cusack-McVeigh, Schneider and Klara B. Kelley

    On the shore of the Bering Sea, between the mouths of the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, lies the Yup’ik Eskimo village of Hooper Bay. In the early 1840s L. A. Zagoskin, a Russian naval lieutenant, wrote that the people of this region were known as Magmyut, “those who lived on the level tundra places” (Michael 1967:210). E. W. Nelson, an American naturalist for the Smithsonian Institution, also wrote about this place as he traveled throughout the region collecting natural history specimens and material culture. At the time of Nelson’s 1878 visit, Hooper Bay was known as Askinuk. Few outsiders had...

  5. 3 The St. Lawrence Island Famine and Epidemic, 1878–80: A Yupik Narrative in Cultural and Historical Context
    (pp. 36-73)
    Aron L. Crowell, Estelle Oozevaseuk, James Clifford and Schneider

    The participation of Alaska Native elders in studies of museum collections and the development of exhibitions has created a new context for the recounting of oral traditions (Clifford 2004; Crowell 2004; Crowell, Steffian, and Pullar 2001; Fienup-Riordan 1996, 1998, 1999, 2005). In Native commentary, museum objects can serve as anchor points for personal or collective histories—objects as “signs,” to use Susan Pearce’s terminology (Pearce 1992:15–35). Sometimes such objects are recognized as encompassing cultural symbols, as when southwest Alaska Yup’ik leaders Paul John, Andy Paukan, Wassilie Berlin, and Catherine Moore speak of being “in the drum” as a metaphor...

  6. 4 Singing and Retelling the Past
    (pp. 74-98)
    Kirin Narayan, Schneider and Barre Toelken

    ”These old memories are very lovable, they exist in such good songs,” remarked Bimla Pandit, an accomplished singer, to her circle of female in-laws as I sat with them on a verandah, sipping tea and checking through song transcriptions. This association between narrative songs in the local dialect and past ways of life confronted me often in my work on women’s songs in the Himalayan foothills of Kangra, Northwest India. In this essay, I use ethnographic materials from Kangra to explore a few ways that sung and spoken retellings of a folklore form can invoke the past: through linguistic terms;...

  7. 5 The Weight of Faith: Generative Metaphors in the Stories of Eva Castellanoz
    (pp. 99-119)
    Joanne B. Mulcahy and Barbara A. Babcock

    As a child in Mexico, and later growing up in Pharr, Texas, Eva Castellanoz loved poetry. As an adult, she mastered its central tool: metaphor. Of faith, Eva says, “How do you measure it? Can you say, ‘Today I have ten pounds?’” Contrasted with faith’s immeasurability, Catholicism is rigid: a “dress that doesn’t fit anymore.” The “root and bark” of her Mexican heritage, Eva says, are being “stripped and bitten away” by life in America. These and other metaphors created from social life and the natural world are the hooks on which Eva’s stories hang. They emerge from her life...

  8. 6 The Representation of Politics and the Politics of Representation: Historicizing Palestinian Women’s Narratives
    (pp. 120-137)
    Sherna Berger Gluck, Schneider and Ted Swedenburg

    As oral historians, we often admonish novices not to reinterview people whose narratives have been recorded already; or if they do, to read the previous oral histories and not to cover the same ground. On the other hand, as we increasingly problematize oral histories and analyze the various factors that shape narrators’ representations, this advice might prove, instead, to be antihistorical. Realizing that people’s representations will change depending not only on their own personal developments but also on the changing sociopolitical contexts in which the interview is conducted, can we assume that a narrative is more than merely a very...

  9. 7 Performance/Participation: A Museum Case Study in Participatory Theater
    (pp. 138-160)
    Lorraine McConaghy, Schneider and Karen R. Utz

    Over the last twenty years, the oral history collection at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry has undergone dramatic change. Originally, oral history interviews were gathered as research material to support the development of specific exhibitions, stored away at the exhibition’s conclusion, and inaccessible to the public. Then, the museum collected interviews that documented the achievements of Seattle’s elite, as acts of respect and to encourage financial support of the museum. But over the last decade, the Speaking of Seattle oral history project has mounted an intentional effort to gather stories that first document the workplace experiences and perspectives of a...

  10. 8. Afterword
    (pp. 161-166)
    William Schneider

    Yogi Berra, baseball star and colorful ex-manager of the New York Yankees and New York Mets, is credited with saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” It is as true for stories as it is for baseball and life in general. Our understanding of a story is never complete, because each time we hear the story told it may speak to us in a different way. Telling and hearing stories, one to another, is a creative act. The range of possibilities is endless, expanding each time the story is told and discussed. As Finnegan (1998) reminds us, the oral narrative,...

  11. Index
    (pp. 167-175)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 176-176)