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  • Introduction:Toward New Perspectives on Verbal Art as Performance

The articles for this special issue came out of a panel presented at the 1997 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting. That year marked the 20th anniversary of the publication in book form of Richard Bauman's landmark study, Verbal Art as Performance. The confluence of this noteworthy anniversary with the return of the AFS Annual Meeting to Austin, Texas—the place where Bauman and his colleagues developed so many ideas important to our field—seemed an auspicious occasion to revisit Bauman's classic work. We and our fellow panelists Claire R. Farrer, Jill Terry Rudy, Jack Santino, and Patricia E. Sawin asked what contributions Verbal Art has made to the field of folklore and how the performance perspective might be developed in the new century. In this special issue, Rudy's article employs intellectual tools from the field of library studies to show how Verbal Art has been used by folklorists and scholars in related disciplines. Sawin's article forges new links between contemporary feminist work on gendered subjectivity and Bauman's notion of performance. Finally, our article suggests how ideas from phenomenology can be combined with performance theory to yield new insights into the problem of aesthetics and reflexivity in folklore. All three of these articles suggest the continued relevance of Bauman's work and the various ways in which the ideas in Verbal Art may be developed and expanded in the contemporary intellectual scene. Additionally, we are pleased to include a response from Bauman himself, in which he provides his own perspective on Verbal Art. Re-examining the past and looking toward the future, we hope these articles stimulate an ever deepening dialogue about the nature of performance and the role of folklore in social life. [End Page 1]



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