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Other titles in the Wellek Library Lectures series:
Poetics of Conduct: Oral Narrative and Moral Being in a South Indian Town (Wellek Library Lectures)by Leela Prasad
Synopses & Reviews
This Riveting Book builds on a decade of ethnographic research in Sringeri, Karnataka, in south-western India, where the famous Shankara matha (monastery) has guided followers for centuries in the ritual and daily conduct prescribed in Sanskrit normative treatises. This book considers what is normative for whom and when in everyday contexts and what vocabulary defines it. Prasad innovatively brings together ethnography, performance studies, poetics, and narrative studies to show that oral discourse and performance are crucial to ethical inquiry. She analyzes a wide range of conversational stories and stylized oral narratives that delineate idealized models of conduct and demonstrates how the moral self is dynamic and gendered with a historical presence, a political agency, and a capacity for artistic expression.
Leela Prasad's riveting book presents everyday stories on subjects such as deities, ascetics, cats, and cooking along with stylized, publicly delivered ethical discourse, and shows that the study of oral narrative and performance is essential to ethical inquiry. Prasad builds on more than a decade of her ethnographic research in the famous Hindu pilgrimage town of Sringeri, Karnataka, in southwestern India, where for centuries a vibrant local culture has flourished alongside a tradition of monastic authority. Oral narratives and the seeing-and-doing orientations that are part of everyday life compel the question: How do individuals imagine the normative, and negotiate and express it, when normative sources are many and diverging? Moral persuasiveness, Prasad suggests, is intimately tied to the aesthetics of narration, and imagination plays a vital role in shaping how people create, refute, or relate to text, moral authority, and community. Lived understandings of ethics keep notions of text and practice in flux and raise questions about the constitution of theory itself. Prasad's innovative use of ethnography, poetics, philosophy of language, and narrative and performance studies demonstrates how the moral self, with a capacity for artistic expression, is dynamic and gendered, with a historical presence and a political agency.
This riveting book builds on more than a decade of research conducted in the famous pilgrimage town of Sringeri, Karnataka, in southwestern India, where a vibrant, mutlireligious culture has flourished for centuries alongside a tradition of monastic authority. Treating conversational and ceremonial narratives as texts, Prasad examines the relationship between morality and the poetics of everyday and stylized language, illustrating how the people of Sringeri are able to "know" and "do" right when normative sources are many. Prasad innovatively uses ethnography, poetics, narrative studies, and performance studies to demonstrate that oral discourse and performance theory are relevant to ethical inquiry. She proves the moral self is dynamic and gendered and has a historical presence and political agency.
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