Speech Acts/Oral Traditions
INSCRIPTIONS '04 an arts and culture conference and festival
at Eastern Mediterranean University
in Famagusta, on the island of Cyprus
June 3rd- 4th, 2004


                Submissions are invited for a Panel Discussion exploring the
forms and modes in which literature, broadly defined, is transmitted orally;
and how the production, transmission, and reception of "texts" in oral
traditions may be addressed in terms of speech act theory or theories of
communicative action.
    For our purposes, forms of orally transmitted literature may
include (but are not limited to) traditional narratives such as the epic and
the ballad, and ritualized performances (lullabies, incantations, laments,
paeans, etc.); and also oral histories, folktales, myths, legends (urban and
other), fables, fairytales, ghost stories, proverbs, riddles, jokes and
shaggy dog stories, improvised theater, "street talk" or argot, rap or
popular song, gossip, rumor, hype, and buzz.
                Such language forms may contribute to preserving existing
cultural traditions and systems, or to creating new ones. They interact in
complex ways with the methods and technologies used to record, print,
archive, and investigate them, which codify and transform them through
processes of editing, translation, and annotation; by extending their
duration, and by recontextualizing their existence in time and place.
These codifying processes are framed by, and at the same time generate, the
shibboleths and creolized discourses of schools of theory and academic
                The global reach of electronic media and communication
technologies-radio, television, the internet in particular-used to broadcast
them has further complicated the study of oral texts not only by modifying
their method of transmission, but by dislocating and decentering their
cultural/historical provenance, their space of existence, and their

. . . . . .and speech acts.

                In this global context, where the local conventions and
assumptions of a culture are constantly being questioned or reconfigured in
interaction with other cultures, the literary forms and modes of oral
communication and their reception in academic and other disciplinary
contexts provide an ideal field of inquiry for the various dimensions of
speech act theory articulated by theorists such as Austin, Grice,
Wittgenstein, Searle, Derrida, Iser, and Pratt, and the theory of
communicative action developed by Habermas.
                The relation between speech act theories and social theories
of communicative rationality pivots on the operation and validity claims of
"illocutionary" speech acts-that is, performative utterances with some
inherent degree of agency-which depend on the complex system of
socio-cultural assumptions, rules, and attitudes in which they occur.
                Since the meaning of illocutionary acts-the "perlocutionary
effects" they produce-depends on these conventions of their performance, the
forms and modes of transmission and reception of oral literature would seem
to constitute critical sites for investigating the illocutionary force of
literary/fictional speech acts, and for developing models and paradigms for
social action in real-world speech situations.

                Prospective panelists are invited to send 250-word
abstracts/proposals for 15-20 minute presentations on any aspect of these
areas to

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by 31st January, 2004. We look forward to learning about your research, and
to a provocative discussion

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