The oral and beyond: doing things with words in Africa

Finnegan, Ruth (2007). The oral and beyond: doing things with words in Africa. Oxford / Chicago: James Currey / University of Chicago Press.



Africa has long been known as the oral continent, at once the home of oral literature, orature and orality, the oral background to the postcolonial literatures of today, and the inspirer of the voiced traditions of the diaspora. But does this image of Africa and orality still stand up to scrutiny?
In this new synthesis of her earlier and most recent work Ruth Finnegan illustrates the continuing interest of African verbal arts and performances and reflects on the related development of ‘orality’ studies through the decades since the 1960s. Her provocative conclusion is that it is time to abandon the long-entrenched image of Africa as ‘the oral continent’ and to adopt a more critical comparative perspective on ‘the oral’

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