Schedule




THE ORALITY/LITERACY HEURISTIC

[4 June 2013]

Wednesday 12 June
Check into Phoenix Park Hotel ....

3:00-3:45 p.m. Opening Statements (Adam and Paula)   [Board Room]

3:45-5:00 Self Introductions and Critical Questions (5 minutes each).
[Please introduce yourself and your hopes for the seminar, much as you will already have done in advance via our group Listserve]

6:00-7:30 Dutch treat dinner at nearby restaurant


Thursday 13 June

9:30-10:00 Coffee and pastries   [Board Room, and hereafter]

10:00-11:00 Session 1: Refining Key Questions  [Let’s use this as a brainstorming session to jointly review the list of cross-cutting themes and questions we have already worked out via the Listserve and yesterday/last night's discussion]

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:30 Session 2: Contact Zones and Comfort Zones: Identifying our Working Assumptions
Discussion leaders: Brokaw, King, McDowell, Swearingen  

Readings:
1. Brokaw, "Indigenous American Polygraphy and the Dialogic Model of Media," Ethnohistory 57 (2010)
2. King, "Khipu: design affections" (2012). Pdf on DocSite; also available at:
3. McDowell, "Mediating Media Past and Present: Towards a Genealogy of 'Print Culture' and 'Oral Tradition,'" in Siskin and Warner, eds., This Is Enlightenment (2010), 229-46
4. Swearingen, "Literate Rhetors and their Illiterate Audiences: the Orality of Early Literacy," Pre/Text 7 (1986): special issue devoted to "The Literacy/Orality Wars," ed. Swearingen [see also intro. by Havelock & interview of him by Swearingen]
5. Havelock, "The Oral-literate equation: a formula for the modern mind," in Olson and Torrance, eds., Literacy and Orality (1991)

What does it mean to think of "orality" and "literacy" not so much as things as concepts with interwoven histories? What are some of the ways we understand, use, critique, adapt, and/or historicize these concepts? How do we use them to gather knowledge and collaborate across disciplinary boundaries and methodologies, yet also tailor the concepts locally in our own work? What are the key discourses we draw on? Who are our heroes, our gurus, and our nemeses?


More specific questions:
1. Terms such as orality, literacy, writing, medium and mediation are used differently by different scholars (see e.g. Guillory; Siskin and Warner). How do you use these terms or concepts? What are some of the ways that you critique, adapt, and/or historicize different uses? What assumptions shape your use?
2. From the 70s on there have been relentless critiques and refinements of the Parry/Lord and Ong/Havelock hypotheses regarding the shift from orality to literacy. The "great leap" theory of literacy has been widely dismissed (e.g. Tannen, "The Myth of Orality and Literacy").  Yet recent studies in cognition and neurobiology are re-inventing some parts of old wheels, while studies of the effects of new media upon language processing are also complicating the picture. What recent developments are affecting your current research? What features of the orality-literacy heuristic do you still find useful?
3. Since at least the 17th c., European histories of the technology of writing have celebrated alphabetic writing, which some saw as a miracle beyond the reach of human invention. Today, many standard histories of writing still privilege the special relation of phonetic script and especially the alphabet to cognition and social practice. But what happens if we connect the controversies that have arisen in orality-literacy studies to new work on so-called "alternative literacies" (see e.g. Brokaw, King, Boone and Mignolo, eds.)? What rearrangements seem to be required -- of assumptions, scales of agency, media hierarchies, and so on?  (What do we make of the concept of "writing without words"? How does the possibility require us to rethink what we mean by literacy?)
4. What are the implications of the sensory interface through which we encounter or engage with media (visual, aural, haptic, etc.)? What is brought into relief if we give equal weight to other senses? What happens when the sensorium or interface shifts (e.g. the introduction of inscribed media, print technology, electronic culture)? How do our projects address examples of such shifts?
5. How do transitions from orality to literacy within languages and cultures differ from those that occur across them?  Early Greek literacy emerged within a language/culture, for instance, whereas early modern vernacular literacies were transitions from Latin literacy to new vernacular writing forms and styles (similar to the transition from Greek to Latin literacy in the Hellenistic era or from demotic Greek and Aramaic to Latin, Coptic, and Syriac among early Christian writers).  How do we study and construct different shifts, and what we are aiming for when we do so?

12:30-2:00 Lunch on your own (or use of Library if you prefer)

2:00-3:15 Session 3: Performance and Embodiment
Discussion leaders: Black, Lynch, Payne (Fisk), Temple  

Readings:
1. Goring, The Rhetoric of Sensibility (2005), Intro. and ch. 1
2. Handler, “Erving Goffman and the Gestural Dynamics of Modern Selfhood,” Past and Present (2009), Supplement 4, 280-300
3. Stone Peters, “Legal Performance Good and Bad,” Law, Culture, and the Humanities 4 (2008), 179-200 
4. Wise, Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theatre in Ancient Greece (1998), Intro. and ch. 1, “The ABCs of Writing”
5. Zunshine, “Why Jane Austen Was Different, And Why We May Need Cognitive Science to See It,” Style 41 (2007), 275-99

We are engaged with issues of performativity and the embodiment of language—in law, in rhetoric, in theatre, and in religion—that help unpack the traditional opposition between orality and literacy.  We have devised the following questions:

1. Goring's The Rhetoric of Sensibility explores the C18 fascination with "the body as an eloquent, expressive object" and shows how actors, orators, and public speakers of all sorts exploited the "textual potential of the body." How might the "orality/literacy heuristic" map onto, complicate, or advance this discussion?  In particular, how do different authors each of us is familiar with -- from classical orators to C21 critics -- conceive of the relationship between "exteriority" and "interiority" in public speaking and performance?  
2. In Antichrist’s Lewd Hat, Peter Lake mentions the “social and psychological processes whereby the godly came to recognize one another.”  Can we recover what Lake does not—how the godly body operates in the world and interacts with others?
3. Before 1750, British rhetorical theory is dominated by texts about elocution and gesture. Scottish Enlightenment theorists, however, turned to reception rather than production, and to written rather than oral discourse. What sparked this shift, and how was it linked to broader social or political realities?
4. In the field of law, what is the rhetoric of anti-rhetoric? How do anxieties and embarrassment about performance affect outcomes (particularly what Temple calls Blackstone's "stuttering style")?
5. What are the implications of Wise’s startling thesis that literacy—specifically, the invention of the Greek alphabet—made possible the invention of theatre in ancient Greece?  What are the implications for our own period(s)?
6. Does the latest cognitive research further call into question the divide between orality and literacy?

3:00-3:30 Tea Break

3:30-5:00 Session 4: Digital Literacies and the Sensorium: Coding, Making, Using
Discussion leaders: McGrane and invited guests:
Collin Jennings, Research Assistant, Digital Commons Initiative, and Co-   Organizer, Digital Experiments Working Group, New York University

Readings
1. Drucker, “Humanistic Theory and Digital Scholarship,” in Gold, ed., Debates in the Digital Humanities (2012), 85-95
2. Fumerton, “Remembering by Dismembering: Databases, Archiving, and the Recollection of Seventeenth-Century Broadside Ballads” in Fumerton & Guerrini, eds., Ballads and Broadsides (2010), 13-34
3. Liu, "Imagining the New Media Encounter," in Siemens and Schreibman, eds., A Companion to Digital Literary Studies (2008)
4. McCarty, “What’s Going On?” Literary & Linguistic Computing 23 (2008), 253-61

Tools or Sites

In the rush to embrace a new media regime, emphasis is often placed on the innovative capabilities afforded by the new medium in contrast to its predecessor. But what does the seemingly inevitable encounter between old and new media contribute to our understanding of the affordances of the old medium, on the one hand, and the limitations of the new medium in translating these possibilities? We will address this question from the perspectives of three activities that confront the challenges of translating historical media into digital forms. These activities include coding the data structures that represent historical media, making tools to interact with digital databases, and using databases and tools for research and teaching through intentional critical engagements.
Keywords: data, documents, code, modeling, metadata, interface, critical digital studies


Friday 14 June

9:30-9:45 Summary of Thursday Sessions (Adam and Paula) [Board Room]

9:45-11:00 Session 5: Form and Transmission in Early European Texts  
Discussion leaders: Atti√©, Fox, Hunt, Nelson  
Readings:
1. Brantley, Reading in the Wilderness (2007), chs. 1 & 4
2. Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (1989), ch. 6
3. Marsh, Music and Society in Early Modern England (2010), chs. 5-6 
4. De Vivo and Richardson, "Scribal Culture in Italy, 1450-1700," Italian Studies 66 (2011)
5. Cressy, Dangerous Talk (2010), chs. 1-3

This session will consider the relationship between orality, literacy and print in a variety of early modern European texts and contexts.  It will draw upon examples ranging from the manuscript lyrics of 14th-c. England to the rhymes in Shakespeare's printed plays, and from the rumors contained in newsletters and ambassadorial dispatches from early modern Rome, to the verses of Scottish broadside ballads.  We will raise issues such as the status of verse forms as both written texts and sung performances;  the relationship between the message and the medium in our sources; the extent to which rhymes varied across the social spectrum and could be adopted as 'weapons of the weak'; and the nature of communication in the public sphere.

Questions for discussion:
1. What is the relationship between the oral voice, the written word and the printed text in our sources?
2. What changes do verses undergo as they pass between the oral, manuscript and printed realms?
3. How did the nature of rhyme vary according to social context (from alehouse songs to courtly poetry) and to what extent could it be used as a weapon of class conflict and political struggle?
4. How were rumors created, sustained and disseminated?
5. What were the spaces of oral & written communication in the early modern world?
6. Which new or existing theoretical frameworks can help us reframe or move beyond the orality/literacy heuristic?

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:30 Rare Materials Display in Central Library

12:30-1:45 Lunch on your own (or use of Library if you prefer)

1:45-3:00 Session 6: Problems and Possibilities of Remediation
Discussion leaders: Artese, Jarrells, Mulholland, Ogden
Readings:
1. McDowell, "The Art of Printing was Fatal," in Fumerton and Guerrini, eds., Ballads and Broadsides in Britain, 1500-1800 (2010), 35-56
2. McLaneBalladeering, Minstrelsy and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (2008), Intro. and Chap. 3: "Tuning the Multi-Media Nation"
3. Mulholland, Sounding Imperial: Poetic Voice and the Politics of Empire (2013), Chap. 3"Scotland and the Invention of Voice" [ Intro ]
4. Jakobson & Bogatyrev, "On the Boundary between Folklore and Literature" (1929) 
5. Siskin and Warner, eds., This is Enlightenment (2010) pp. 12-19 [on mediation]
6. Grusin and Bolter, Remediation: Understanding New Media (2000), ch. 1  

Questions for reading and discussion:
1. While the ballad has been central to the discussion of oral forms in C17 and C18, how have written and printed texts remediated the oral into print forms?  Do these forms exhibit anxiety about the spread of print? How do they highlight (or overcome) distinctions that exist between the oral and print? 
2. What is the “work,” “text,” or object we study when we examine the results of these remediations, which McLane has called “oral-literate conjunctions” (9)? 
3. Is (or in what ways is) discourse analysis inadequate for these “transmedial” oral/literary, folk/literature hybrid forms? (McLane 113; Jakobson and Bogatyrev 93)? How can we supplement and/or alter discourse analysis, in which most of us are trained, to make it suitable for analyzing works with “hybrid oral and textual status”?
4. Siskin and Warner use the term mediation “in its broadest sense as shorthand for the work done by tools” (5). With this move in mind, should we think of orality as a medium and of the voice or body as a tool?  Is orality mediated, and if so by what? How do forms that (re)mediate orality attempt to access its supposed immediacy?
5. What happens to the idea of genre if we shift to focus (as Siskin and Warner do) on instruments of mediation? Does the emphasis on categorization that genre seems to require become less important? 
6. How can orality, and its remediation into literate cultural forms, register the larger dynamics of British imperialism, particularly its desire to compare and categorize cultures? 

Keywords: mediation; remediation; folklore; literature; print; poetry; voice and literary voice; eighteenth century; Enlightenment; romanticism

3:00-3:30 Tea Break (Tea Room)

3:30-5:00 Session 7: Wrap-up (all)

5:00-6:30 Closing Reception (Foulke Conference Room)
[Spouses and guests are welcome to join us.]