Monday, August 02, 2010

misc. folklore, historiography references

American concept of tradition: Folklore in the discourse of traditional values, The
Western Folklore, Spring 2000 by Bronner, Simon J

* * *


The central problem of tradition is explaining the ways that people rely on one another, with reference to precedent, for their wisdom, their expression, their identity. The problem may not be immediately evident from the mechanical sounding definition of tradition in most dictionaries as the "handing down" of lore from generation to generation, especially by oral means. In common usage, tradition can refer to an item dependent on this process, such as a story or custom, or to a precedent given the force of repeated practice, or to knowledge whose official source cannot be verified but is held widely, or to a concept-"a mode of thought or behavior"characteristic of people generally.2 As one goes down the list, more authority is ascribed to tradition. The suggestion of reverence due tradition means that people "follow" it, willingly or not, and may define themselves through its presence. Tradition in its most authoritarian sense is a "natural" way of doing things, which goes unchallenged because it is a basis of social life.

An emotional or even spiritual connotation to tradition exists that may belie objective chronologies or social inventories. To claim tradition, after all, is to bring into play the force, and guilt, of countless generations of ancestors, and perhaps the gaze of present-day neighbors. In political usage, it allows for a natural state; it refers to the givens of public practice, and suggests, problematically, that the longstanding character of a practice is justification for its continuation. For religion, to follow tradition may be construed as keeping the faith; to break it a risk of apostasy. Hence, a vibrant legacy of writing on tradition exists from the view of how religion draws its meaning from continuities of shared ritual and belief and how individual expressions of art and literature respond to socially inherited aesthetics, symbols, and themes. That is not to say that attempts to clinically objectify tradition do not exist, particularly in folkloristics which above all other disciplines has claimed it for its sense of being. Tradition can be calculatedly viewed as a biological specimen and given the look of a genealogical chart. It may be stolidly recorded as a series of motions and minutely analyzed frame by frame. Traditions can be alternatively "collected" as empirical evidence of everyday practice or in the singular described as some conceptual, almost mystical whole, often outside the awareness of individuals. In both directions, scientific and humanistic, the problem of tradition questions the sources from which people draw the basis of actions and attitudes.

* * *

{Also wrote Old-Time Music Makers of New York State (York State Book) by Simon J. Bronner (Hardcover - Dec. 1987) - available through for $7.45 and online in Google books}


AHA Presidential Addresses
Everyman His Own Historian
By Carl Becker,
President of the American Historical Association, 1931

Annual address of the president of the American Historical Association, delivered at Minneapolis, December 29, 1931. From the American Historical Review, vol. 37, no. 2, p. 221–36

* * *

... I have tried to reduce history to its lowest terms, first by defining it as the memory of things said and done, second by showing concretely how the memory of things said and done is essential to the performance of the simplest acts of daily life. ...

* * *


承王蓁 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

吳承侯政霖虹 said...