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Towards a folkloric commonality: adapting lores of Assam and the American South

Rana, Aashima (2024) Towards a folkloric commonality: adapting lores of Assam and the American South. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.

This project aims to reflect upon how distinctive folklore consists of oral traditions and knowledge that are particular to their places of origin. This is not a controversial claim, but it can also be said that the potential for discovering significant parallels between such distinctive folk cultures is relatively unexplored. To this end, the thesis will focus on the adaptation of folkloric material from two cultures that were brought into being by the forced migration of vulnerable populations to plantations in the American South and the Assam region of North Eastern India. The most fundamental continuity between these communities and their traditions will be shown through how they adapt the role of the trickster figure. The initial focus will be on how Toni Morrison uses trickster figures, as well as trickster techniques of narration, in her novels Tar Baby and Beloved and will stress the role of folklore played in reviving cultural identity among African Americans. Ultimately, this also shows how the adaptation of folkloric material into a literary form like the novel need not mean that folklore is left behind, but rather complemented by its adaptation. Morrison’s revivification of the folkloric here lays a foundation for comparative analysis with the lesser-known tales created out of Assam plantations. The thesis shows how the folksongs and trickster figures in Assam folklore became a medium for Tea Garden labourers to reconstitute their identities, in a way that is analogous to the rise of the Trickster in the American South. Furthermore, just as Morrison adapted a means of transmitting folklore from orality into literature while maintaining the auratic qualities of its origins, cinema proves in Assam to be the key medium for simultaneously adapting and renewing folklore. Analogies are productively drawn between how different methods have served these different communities and folklore, and their common structures are acknowledged. At the same time, homogenisation is resisted by retaining an emphasis on the particularity of each place and its stories. This is a study of simultaneous similarities and differences.
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Date of Award:March 2024
Supervisor(s):Hinds, Michael
Subjects:Humanities > Literature
Humanities > Translating and interpreting
Humanities > Film studies
Humanities > Culture
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Science > School of English
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License. View License
Funders:School of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
ID Code:29314
Deposited On:22 Mar 2024 11:43 by Michael Hinds . Last Modified 22 Mar 2024 11:43

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