Mythography is the process by which myths (stories) become graphed (textualized). We will explore this process in its full range, from ancient writing systems to the tape-recorder, comparing the works of such mythographers as playwrights, poets, novelists, and compilers of sacred books, on the one hand, and those of folklorists, linguists, and ethnographers, on the other. Our attention will be centered on the telling of stories rather than the singing of epics; storytelling is older than the epic and has a far wider distribution among the cultures of the world. In the folktale (and not in the epic) may be found the oral analog (and source) of the multivocal discourse of the novel, a fact which is missed even by Bakhtin. The texture and tenor of oral narration reflects the age, sex, social status, emotional state, personality, and even the speech defects of quoted characters; the quoted voices seep over into third-person narration, creating what Bakhtin calls double voicing.
There will be exercizes in the scripting of sound recordings. Term papers may be based either on sound recordings or on narratives that have already been textualized by means of writing. Each student will do a class presentation. Readings will include M. M. Bakhtin, "Discourse in the Novel"; Richard Bauman, Story, Performance, and Event: Contextual Studies of Oral Narrative; Robert Duncan, "The Truth and Life of Myth"; Dell Hymes, "In vain I tried to tell you" : Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics; Peter Seitel, See So That We May See: Performances and Interpretations of Traditional Tales from Tanzania; selected plays of J.M. Synge; Dennis Tedlock, Finding the Center: Narrative Poetry of the Zuni Indians and The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation; W.B. Yeats, Mythologies.