The Poetics of Communication: Social and Cultural Functions of the Traditional Song Fair of the Bai Ethnic People in Southwest China

Mar 8 12:00–1:30pm
Common Room, 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge

Zhu Gang (Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Ethnic Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair/discussant: Gregory Nagy (Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Department of the Classics, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Departing from text-centered perspectives and based on performance-centered approaches in folkloristics, the poetics of communication considers verbal art as an oral performance and communicative event. In this light, this talk will seek to combine two interrelated paradigms in approaching the Shibaoshan Song Fair as a living oral tradition: 1) ethnographic analysis of ballad singing in the situated context; and 2) cultural interpretation of the Song Fair as a speech event. As a theoretical model, the poetics of communication pays attention to the ethnopoetic process of oral performance and the socio-cultural function of the contextualized communicative event, trying to introduce new cross-disciplinary perspectives to the contemporary methodology of research on oral traditions.