Penn State

Robert W. Schrauf - associate professor of applied linguistics, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Memory in Oral Traditions: The cognitive psychology of epic, ballads, and counting-out rhymes

Author: David C. Rubin

Book Description:

It is a remarkable feat of human memory, both individual and social, that certain people can recite epic poems of great length on repeated occasions, that many members of a society can recite substantially similar versions of the same ballad, and that counting rhymes are handed down with remarkable fidelity from generation to generation. In Memory in Oral Traditions, David Rubin asks: How can principles of cognitive psychology, linguistics, and anthropology explain the subtle and powerful processes at work in such productions? This book offers a series of compelling answers to this question, but along the way it also offers a way of conducting scientific enquiry. Rather than beginning with a theory and testing it, this method begins with the observation of some curious human phenomenon and proceeds to explain it. On this account, science is puzzling about the world, taking it apart, and seeing how the pieces fit.


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