In the book, Story, Performance, and Event: Contextual Studies of Oral Narrative by Richard Bauman, we delve into Texan oral narratives over the past fifteen years. This book studies oral storytelling, tall tales, hunting stories, jokes, and character anecdotes. Bauman focuses on how storytelling is played out and told by using ethnographic practices to study Texan communities. In this report, we will only review and summarize chapter four and five.
Chapter four focuses on Texan storytelling from one individual, retold again after a certain amount of years, with each anecdote later dissected by Bauman. Chapter five focuses on the “individual performer” by examining the changes in a limited range of one storyteller with the actual contexts changing over time. Such processes and relationships are discovered by Bauman through ethnographic styled studies.In chapter 4, Richard Bauman examines oral narratives he has recorded through ethnographic observation. These oral narratives, observed by Bauman, are told by one individual and represent forms of discourse in which they concern other people’s words becoming the “object of interpretation, discussion, evaluation, rebuttal, support, further development, etc.
” The narratives Bauman examine are “anecdotes” (one of the least studied of oral narrative forms) which are a short and funny narrative recounting a true incident of real people. West Texas Rancher, Caswell Rogers, tells of four stories that Bauman distinguishes formal patterns from that lead to larger functional observations and connections. The first story told by Mr. Rogers is called “Drunk Man” -I (1979) and -II (1982) and depicts a drunk name Johnny Fredericks and his witty remark to his new wife, Ms. Brandon, after she states the obvious of his drunken state when picking him up.
The second, story called “Not That Young” -I (1972) and -II (1982), tells the story of a young man named Jack who is a good worker but a heavy drinker. Jacks employer, who is also Caswell Rogers’s employer, sits with Rogers to remark about Jack’s behavior when Rogers chimes in, “well, Mr. Trimble, Jack is young…you was young one time..” in which Trimble replies, “…not that young!” The third story called I “Should’ve Left” -I (1972) and -II (1982) is about a very old man known around town for backing into things with his car when one day he backed into old man Means car and damaged his fender.
The old man apologized and offered to fix it but Means denied saying, “…it was my fault…I knew you’s in town’n’ I should’ve left.” The last story called “Pasture Full” -I (1972) and -II (1982) tells the time Rogers was on jury duty with Lawrence and Shorty Hammond was on trial for stealing four calves. The judge questioned him as to why he stole the cattled and Hammond replied, “…I got drunk, so I didn’t know what I’s doin’…I do that every time I get drunk…” when Lawerence replied, “…that’s no excuse…I’d have a pasture full if I stole cattle every time I got drunk.” Between these four stories Bauman compares the point of the story and the changes made every time the story is told again. A punch line always occurs at the end of the stories and Bauman considers them reflexive. Bauman points out that every story has a time (markers), a place (scene-setting), a narrative sequentially has been set, or an action before every character is introduced which reflects all the characteristics of an anecdote.
He notes that the story also always has quoted speeches, reported speeches, and includes nonverbal action concluding with a quoted punchline. In chapter 5, Richard Bauman focuses on the “individual performer” by examining the changes in a limited range of a storyteller’s and how the contexts of the story shifts over time. We start off with story teller Ed Bell who was previously observed by folklorists Pat Mullen.
Mullen documents and analyzes certain developmental changes in Mr. Bell’s storytelling from 1971-5 and Bauman builds upon his work in this chapter. He focuses on changes over time in stories that have persisted in Mr.
Bell’s archive of stories all the way from fishing camp to present time. Significant change over time occurs in this story every time it is told, most notably the length of the story. The story “The Bee Tree” told in 1971, in 1979, and again in 1982 each time is told in greater detail and with extra information. Bauman describes the “expansion of plot” in this story being where the plot changed very little and everything is preserved in the same sequence. Bauman discloses the “formal devices” of the story where the exploitation of an interesting range of formal devices, including especially direct discourse and parallelism.
To show this Bauman shows comparisons in regards to relevant passages out into lines by pauses and sentence boundaries. The first telling is lean and straight forward… the “syntactic parallelism” is repetition with systematic variation, …he also poit out that parallel structures develop at a range of formal levels, “phonological, prosodic, syntactic, semantic, and thematic.” “thematic parallelism” is not confined in the later tellings to the language of the narration and the repetition with systematic variation of an element of plotfrom simple action to the entire episode which is a major structural device in the overall story line. “metanarration” meaning those devices that index or comment on the narrative itself where Bauman points out two areas where this occurs in the story. Bauman also points out the narrative change in relationship to context.These chapters are a short in-depth look of Texan socio-cultural norms regarding storytelling and practical jokes. Storytelling is seen in Chapter two where the Canton coon dog trading fair took place and we learned about what it means to tell a story and self-exaggerating isn’t all that bad.
Practical jokes are told in Chapter three through three different stories from the point of view of a trickster and a victim. Richard Bauman studies this society and recounts scenarios taking place right before him which really helps the reader engage into the story. Bauman does inform the reader that these stories told by one individual do not represent all Texan practical jokes and Texan society. Bauman goes on to say that oral narratives can tell us how these stories came to be and how they are related to events; locally, socially, and individually from one’s own point of view.