Family identity and the social use of folklore : a South Carolina family tradition

Dargan, Mary Amanda (1979) Family identity and the social use of folklore : a South Carolina family tradition. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This study examines the pastimes and verbal art of a large family network whose geographic center is a community in northeastern South Carolina. Patterns of leisure and patterns of performance in verbal art are described and analyzed in terms of their function and use in the family. The focus is on verbal art and such problems as the relationship between performer and audience, the recognition of ownership and expertise, and the presentation of images of family and self in storytelling. -- The purpose of the study is to show how these forms of expressive behavior express and help to maintain a sense of family identity. Family pastimes are organized according to family membership and are sources of and settings for storytelling. Family members use storytelling and other expressive behavior to project a specific image of their group or of themselves as individuals. These images are highly self-conscious and can be played with for different audiences and situations. They not only reflect family self-images but also involve plays on the images family members think others have of them or of groups with which they are identified, in particular Southern rural whites. -- Family members can also express a sense of family identity by using private expressions and private references in storytelling which only the family understands. They can tell their stories a little differently for their relatives than for outsiders. This study looks at the forms and devices family members use for expressing esoteric knowledge in their verbal art. -- The questions of what it means to belong to a family and of when family ties become important to members of this kin network are also addressed in the thesis. Observations of family interaction and interviews with family members led to the conclusion that family membership involves not only kinship ties but also ties of friendship and proximity. It also involves the shared knowledge of a common past, of images of the family which can be used in verbal performance, of the rights and obligations entailed in kinship relations, and of the ways family ties can be used in organizing family pastimes. -- Individual family members belong not to one, but to many families based on different ways of grouping their kindred. Part of being a member of the family is knowing which family ties are relevant to different kinds of interaction and which images of family group are appropriate to certain situations. Family members can identify themselves or their relatives with one family group in one situation and with another in a different situation. This thesis focuses on the expression of family identity in pastimes and verbal art, for it is in these that family identity seems to find its clearest, most creative expression.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7629
Item ID: 7629
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 244-250.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1979
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: United States--South Carolina
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Dorgan family; Folklore--South Carolina

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