Cover image for Wishbone : reference and interpretation in Black folk narrative
Title:
Wishbone : reference and interpretation in Black folk narrative
Author:
Jarmon, Laura C., 1951-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
xxxix, 372 pages ; 23 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Introduction: a modal discourse -- Tar baby: binding and transcription -- Good sense: duty and ambivalence -- Buzzard: faith and paradox -- Pots and hoes: working and saving -- Skull: presence and propriety -- Cursing: sanction and mood -- Conclusion: humor and the joker.
ISBN:
9781572332737
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Wishbone: Reference and Interpretation in Black Folk Narrative follows African American folklore to its roots in African sources, bringing together a selection of narratives from both Africa and the United States and stressing their common bond and history. Laura C. Jarmon provides synopses of a number of African and African American folk tales, giving the reader a broad sample of tales with themes common to both cultures. Then, through analysis of form, language, and tone, she argues that black folk expression is modal, i.e., open-ended and tentative, a posture revealed in both the behavior and the discourse of the narratives' folk participants. By tracing the folklore to it's sources, Jarmon seeks to correct nineteenth-century suggestions that African American folklore must have its origin in European sources.

The Author: Laura C. Jarmon is professor of English at the University of Tennessee, martin. She is coeditor of Thomas Talley's The Negro traditions (Tennessee), and author of Arbors to Bricks: A Hundred Years of African American Education in Rutherford County, Tennessee, 1865-1965. She lives in Stanton, Tennessee.


Author Notes

Laura C. Jarmon is professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Martin


Reviews 1

Choice Review

While this superb interpretive study of African and African American folk narrative presents its exemplars in meticulous summary rather than actual transcription, Jarmon (Univ. of Tennessee, Martin) fully succeeds in presenting the "redescription of black folk group expression with a perspective integral to its own milieu" through an overarching thematic frame of the transformational nature of black traditional expression. Expressive genres range from brief formulas and proverbs to fully developed narratives and ritual. Every aspect of traditional black culture is held up to examination through the author's original observations on the discourses presented and her careful and sometimes provocative evaluations of the secondary literature in the field. For example, readers acquainted with such aspects of black folk culture as insult and joking through the work of Roger Abraham and others will find in chapter 6, "Sanction and Mood," an exhaustive analysis of this cultural phenomenon that provides context and depth by its relationship to the other cultural motifs discussed in the book. Despite the author's theoretical emphasis and academic style, there is much here that would interest even the nonspecialist. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Folk narrativists and scholars of black culture, upper-division undergraduates and above. J. Gregg emerita, CUNY, New York City Technical College


Table of Contents

Leon Jarmon
Prologue: My Tongue Brought Me Herep. vii
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xxi
Introduction: A Modal Discoursep. xxiii
Oracy, Tradition, and Truth
Narrative Status
1. Tar Baby: Binding and Transcriptionp. 1
Theft
Capture
Naming the Babies
Escape
False Message
Substitution
Incrimination
Fake Death
Transcription
2. Good Sense: Duty and Ambivalencep. 28
Quests
Abuse
L'Enfant Terrible
Exchange
Tasks
Riddles
Verbal Ambiguity
Duplicity
The Garbled Formula
Dilemma
Courtship
Contest
The Race
Wit
Sense
3. Buzzard: Faith and Paradoxp. 74
Prophecy
Features
Trouble
Boasts
Revenge
Opportunism
Tails
Buzzard
Faith
4. Pots and Hoes: Working and Savingp. 119
Pots
Hoes
The Magic Pot
The Magic Hoe
The Magic Password
Treasure
The Circle
5. The Skull: Presence and Proprietyp. 153
Reference
Dignity
Utterance
Mention
Disclosure
The Incredible Spouse
The Talking Skull
6. Cursing: Sanction and Moodp. 189
Witchery
Sorcery
Insult
The Joking Relationship
Judgment
Humiliation
The Folk Toast
The Dozens
Conclusion: Humor and the Jokerp. 215
Appendix 1. Form in Black Folk Narrativep. 225
Cultural Context
Proverbs
Forms of Reference
Naming
Praising
Signifying
Drumming
Boasting
Witnessing
Lying
Formulaic Structures
Greeting
Joking
Riddling
Praying
Sermonizing
Funeralizing
Narrative Elements
Character
Setting
Theme and Subject
Structure
Appendix 2. Usage in Black Folk Narrativep. 267
Indirect Reference, Pragmatics, and Modality
Morphology
Verbals
Pronominals
Circumstantials
Apposition
Negation
Appendix 3. Performance in Black Folk Narrativep. 304
Performance
Workers
Tools
Audience
Personhood
Ritual and Worship
Medicine and Magic
Divination
Conjure
Notesp. 326
Works Citedp. 337
Works Consultedp. 351
Index of Talesp. 357
Index of Termsp. 363