The impact of folk literature: Methods, aspects and selected examples
By Dr. Kamil Farhan Salih, Professor in the Lebanese University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities
- The ultimate goal of folk literature is to offer an accurate depiction of social practices; it is more closely related to human nature than formal literature. It fulfils social needs, so it varies according to the time and place. The subject of folk literature is general and relevant to everyone in the nation. It is also personal, so each individual feels as if it relates to his or her situation. This paper discusses the various methodologies related to the study of folk literature and helps to serve their common goal, which is to explain the relationship between people and folk culture. The researcher cannot rely on just one methodology; contemporary folklore studies employ a combination of methodologies.
- Folk literature is viewed as the highest form of artistic awareness; it does not have a fixed form, it borrows any form that serves its goals and objectives. A narrated story might be enhanced by a certain proverb or transformed into a folk song or folk theatre or the two forms may be combined. It also has an artistic structure and style (narration, storytelling, rhythm, dialogue, language etc.) that distinguishes it from formal literature. Folk literature is appealing when it is narrated or sung because it includes repetition, exclamations, satire, irony, personification, and other creative devices.
- The paper describes the characteristics of folk literature, issues that can arise when one studies it, and the latest approaches used in folk literature studies. It also presents selected examples to demonstrate the most prominent of these characteristics. The paper focuses on folk literature’s form and content, which are simple and spontaneous because folk literature draws on oral traditions and the collective memory. It is important to preserve it in the form of recordings, photography and documentary films, and to introduce it to the educational curricula, from the first classes to university-level courses.
- Folk literature is a living thing with which society interacts; it is a very important component of folklore, folk heritage and folk legacy. This study focuses on the essence of folk literature and its spontaneous nature, which is the fruit of the experience and interpretations of people who share social and economic conditions.
- The paper presents a new perspective on folk literature and its characteristics by considering its material, spiritual and creative features.
- The study concludes that the decisive element that defines heritage is not its recording or its oral nature, or its creation by the literate or illiterate; it is a collective act of creativity that reflects the community's sentiment and traditions, enabling communication between the individuals and the community and simultaneously bearing the seeds of its own future.
- In conclusion, in the future, it may be possible to establish a new type of folk literature – digital folk literature – given the vast number of texts, folk expressions, folk arts, customs, traditions and pictures available online.