The Legacy of Dell Hymes

9780253019417: Paperback
Release Date: 25th September 2015

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 300

Series Encounters: Explorations in Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Indiana University Press

The Legacy of Dell Hymes

Ethnopoetics, Narrative Inequality, and Voice

Paperback / £24.99

The accomplishments and enduring influence of renowned anthropologist Dell Hymes are showcased in these essays by leading practitioners in the field. Hymes (1927–2009) is arguably best known for his pioneering work in ethnopoetics, a studied approach to Native verbal art that elucidates cultural significance and aesthetic form. As these essays amply demonstrate, nearly six decades later ethnopoetics and Hymes’s focus on narrative inequality and voice provide a still valuable critical lens for current research in anthropology and folklore. Through ethnopoetics, so much can be understood in diverse cultural settings and situations: gleaning the voices of individual Koryak storytellers and aesthetic sensibilities from century-old wax cylinder recordings; understanding the similarities and differences between Apache life stories told 58 years apart; how Navajo punning and an expressive device illuminate the work of a Navajo poet; decolonizing Western Mono and Yokuts stories by bringing to the surface the performances behind the texts written down by scholars long ago; and keenly appreciating the potency of language revitalization projects among First Nations communities in the Yukon and northwestern California. Fascinating and topical, these essays not only honor a legacy but also point the way forward.

"Introducing Ethnopoetics: Hymes’s Legacy," Anthony K. Webster and Paul V. Kroskrity

[section] Listening for Voices
1 "Reinventing Ethnopoetics," Robert Moore

The Patterning of Style: Indices of Performance through
2 Ethnopoetic Analysis of Century-Old Wax Cylinders," Alexander D. King

3 " ‘Grow with That, Walk with That’: Hymes, Dialogicality, and Text Collections," M. Eleanor Nevins

4 " ‘The Validity of Navajo Is in Its Sounds’: On Hymes, Navajo Poetry, Punning, and the Recognition of Voice," Anthony K. Webster

5 "Discursive Discriminations in the Representation of Western Mono and Yokuts Stories: Confronting Narrative Inequality and Listening to Indigenous Voices in Central California," Paul V. Kroskrity

6 "Discovery and Dialogue in Ethnopoetics," Richard Bauman

[section] Ethnopoetic Pathways7 "The Poetics of Language Revitalization: Text, Performance, and Change," Gerald L. Carr and Barbra Meek

8 "Translating Oral Literature in Indigenous Societies: Ethnic Aesthetic Performances in Multicultural and Multilingual Settings," Sean Patrick O’Neill

9 "Ethnopoetics and Ideologies of Poetic Truth," David W. Samuels

10 "Contested Mobilities: On the Politics and Ethnopoetics of Circulation," Charles L. Briggs


Paul V. Kroskrity is Professor of Anthropology and Chair of American Indian Studies at UCLA, where he has taught since earning his PhD in anthropology from Indiana University in 1978. He has authored numerous works including Regimes of Language and Telling Stories in the Face of Danger.

Anthony K. Webster is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Explorations in Navajo Poetry and Poetics as well as numerous articles on Navajo poetry, language, and culture.

The contributors to this volume have not only revivified ethnopoetics as a research project in the contemporary moment; they have also pointed the way to fruitful lines of folkloristic research and collaboration in the future, lines founded on the importance of measured and allusive speech and that build on Dell hymes’ commitment to the voices of marginalized peoples.

Journal of American Folklore