Introduction

I grew up in a town in which stories had tremendous power. I was always puzzled by this, as it often seemed that the stories told were more important than the lives being led. People were identified by their recipes as well as by what their mothers and fathers had or had not accomplished. It was a s...

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Published in: Narrative, Political Unconscious and Racial Violence in Wilmington, North Carolina pp. 17 - 24
Main Author: Hossfeld, Leslie
Format: Book Chapter
Language: English
Published: Routledge 2005
Online Access: Get full text
Summary: I grew up in a town in which stories had tremendous power. I was always puzzled by this, as it often seemed that the stories told were more important than the lives being led. People were identified by their recipes as well as by what their mothers and fathers had or had not accomplished. It was a southern town, indeed a Deep South delta town, yet this quality did not make it unique. The new lore about the U.S. South stakes claims on the geography of storytelling-that the defeated Confederacy has a richer storytelling tradition full of myths and lore unlike other parts of the United States-and that by virtue of its defeat and oppression has greater rights to storytelling. Yet stories, collected stories, potentially have tremendous power in any community, anywhere on the globe. Events and their actors’ actions are often retold in communities over many generations, frequently setting the stage for the way future events and actors should behave. Certainly the South offers numerous examples of such collective memory-the mythological power of stories about the Civil War are immediate examples that come to mind. Similar forces around folklore concerning events and actors exist in communities all over the world. In Spain, I heard stories in small towns about their Civil War and the actors and events in their communities. In Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, stories I heard about the liberation movement and actors and events take on a collective quality, passed down by community members over time. These stories often mark the path for future action or expectations about the “way things ought to be.”
DOI: 10.4324/9780203329801-9