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Reviewed by:
  • Oral and Written Narratives and Cultural Identity: Interdisciplinary Approaches
  • Mareike Neuhaus (bio)
Francisco Cota Fagundes and Irene Maria F. Blayer, editors. Oral and Written Narratives and Cultural Identity: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Peter Lang. 2007. xii, 314. US$78.95

In Oral and Written Narratives and Cultural Identity, Francisco Cota Fagundes and Irene Maria F. Blayer have collected a series of essays that stem from a 2005 international conference and engage readers in a wide breadth of topics exploring the interrelationship between storytelling and cultural identity.

Not counting the editors' introduction, the collection is divided into five sections that strike a meaningful balance between theoretical discussions and analyses of specific texts. The first section, 'Reflections on Storytelling,' opens with Leah Bradshaw's 'Narrative in Dark Times,' which, reading stories as reconciling humans to reality, stresses the ethical responsibilities of storytellers in dark times. Kyoko Takashi and Douglas Wilkerson's 'Recovering the "Japanese" in Narrative' then investigates how the narrative pattern ki-shō-ten-ketsu has become 'a symbol of the essence of Japanese culture and identity.'

In the first of four essays forming the second section, 'Oral Identities,' Hazel J. Wriggles worth's 'The Function of Ilianen Manobo Storytelling in the Preservation of Culture' explores the transmission of Manobo culture through the effective interaction between performer and audience in storytelling. Jane E. Oliver's 'It's Where My Roots Are' studies the role of a rural ideology and agrarian world view in the life stories of eight older New Brunswick women. In 'The Acquisition of Voice in Clinical Settings,' Branca Telles Ribeiro, Solange de Azambuja Lira, Márcia Guimarães, and Clémence Jouët-Pastré analyze the identity formation of a female Brazilian immigrant in the United States. Finally, E. Jean Langdon's 'Dialogicality, Conflict and Memory in Siona Ethnohistory' [End Page 546] explores an alternative history of the conquest of the Colombian Amazon as offered in Siona oral history.

Carl Leggo opens the section 'Autobiographical Voices' with 'Autobiographical Writing and Voice,' which reflects on the significance and complexities of finding voice through writing one's self. Kwok-Kan Tam's 'The Self as Hybrid Contestation' analyzes the voices of postcolonial hybrid selfs as expressed in three autobiographical stories by Mary Loh Chieu Kwuan, Kee Thuan Chye, and Kirpal Singh. Finally, Weimin Tang's reading in 'Zone of Negotiation' of two novels by Chinese-American writers Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston argues for 'an "emergent" hybrid cultural identity that is neither the one nor the other yet simultaneously both.'

The forth section, 'Place and Textualized Identities,' begins with Sylvia Mittler's 'Subversive Storytelling' that proposes a reading of Greek humorist Nikos Tsiforos's storytelling 'as an ethical alternative to estheticized history and mythology.' María Jesús Cabarcos Traseira's 'Landscaping and Narrating White Australian-ness in Murray Bail's Eucalyptus' explores how Bail's novel both rejects and embraces the triad landscape-literature-nation in the Australian context. In 'Subjective Identity and Objective Reality in the "Portuguese" Novels of Antonio Tabucchi,' Corrado Federici offers a reading of three Tabucchi novels as fusing realist, modernist, and postmodern elements to reflect on the formation of personal identity. Finally, Alison Searle's 'Narrative, Metaphor, and Myth in C.S. Lewis's Testimonial Novel Till We Have Faces' analyzes Lewis's recreation of the Cupid and Psyche myth through the juxtaposition of narrative and metaphor.

The last section, 'Children's Stories,' opens with Sandra L. Beckett's '"Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall,"' which argues that illustrations of Snow White need not prevent the readers' active engagement with the story. The collection closes with Ron Smith and June Neill's 'Peace Stories and Peacebuilding,' which outlines how children's poetic narratives can be employed in peace education in Northern Ireland as catalysts for peacebuilding.

A recurring theme in the collection is the significance of dialogical exchange. Although the contributors never engage in an explicit dialogue in print, some essays demonstrate overlaps with others that readers will find interesting to trace. The collection's major contributions are its multidisciplinary scope and the diversity of themes studied by its contributors to investigate the ways in which storytelling informs cultural identity. 'Storytelling is ubiquitous,' the...


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pp. 546-548
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