THE 7th conference of Nigerian Oral Literature Association (NOLA) will be held at the University of Abuja, Abuja, from November 22 through 24, 2023. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Perspectives on Nigeria Oral Narrative Traditions: Ancient and Modern.’ The keynote speaker is the versatile Udje-Urhobo oral performer and professor at the Department of English and Literary Studies, Dennis Osadebay University, Anwai, Asaba, Gordini G. Darah while the lead paper presenter is a professor at the Department of English and Literary Studies, IBB University, Lapai, Nigeria, Sule Emmanuel Egya.
The versatility and durability of the oral narratives in a technological-driven world lies in its ability to captivate and fascinate the audience through its methods of oral agonistic style, improvisation of content and adoption of various media of transmission. The 7th conference seeks to examine the various perspectives of oral narrative traditions traversing the ancient and modern means of creating content and transmitting the narratives. The focus of this year’s conference goes beyond the mere definition and typological scope of oral narratives, as it embraces the shifting content of oral narratives as influenced by the introduction of technology to the transmission and authentication of oral narratives.
The conference will also focus on the vagaries of the evolution in the representation of the narrator of oral narratives. Walter Ong describes the method of the narrator of oral narratives who adopts the physical agonistic style where the narrator becomes the creator of the fictional world that simulates the dream world of the audience. With the voice and histrionics of the performance, the audience is transported to the level of magical realism that stimulates the intellectual capacities cum the emotional realization of satisfaction. But in modern times, the invention of the television and its appropriation by oral narrative creators have triggered the gradual death of the narrator. The representation of the narrator in narratives such as movies, animation and social media stories is to be explored.
Conference keynote speaker, Prof. Gordini G. Darah
Another area that will be interrogated in the conference has to do with the changing concept of audience and audience’s participation in the oral narrative experience. The works of various scholars like Ruth Finnegan, Isidore Okpewho, Ropo Sekoni and Gordini Darah have related the aesthetics of the physical audience to the success of the performance of the oral narrative experience. As globalization introduces new technologies and the content creators adopt them, the concept of the audience and its participation has evolved from the physical presence with its interlocution and interruption to that of integration and impact. It is the latter that moves the subjective audience to participate in buying the product. How this is realized becomes the processes the conference will interrogate and foreground.
The commercialization of oral narratives has been showcased by the stand-up comedian more than any other creator of oral narratives. As the stand-ups narrate stories and the recorded performances are marketed, there is the need to explore the artistic and technical aesthetics of the narratives transmitted through the media of stand-up comedy.
Earlier, the Conference Organizing Committee had invited papers and panels from several academic disciplines including literature, folklore, history, theatre, drama, linguistic/languages, sociology, philosophy, religious studies, cultural studies, media studies, popular culture, performance studies, ethnomusicology, anthropology, ethnography, visual and creative arts, etc. These academics will engage and interrogate the ways and means which oral narratives have continued to educate, entertain, captivate and fascinate both the physical and virtual audiences, the development of the oral narrative through the ancient to modern times and the harnessing of technology to project narratives by oral artists.
Abstracts of individual papers and panels will deal with the following sub-themes: ‘The Theories of African Oral Narratives,’ ‘Issues of Classification and Taxonomy of Oral Narratives,’ ‘Traditions and Genres of Oral Narratives,’ ‘Oral Narrative Traditions and Oral Poetry,’ ‘Oral Narratives and Performance Traditions,’ ‘Myths and Legends in Oral Narratives,’ ‘Myths, Cosmology and Belief Systems in Oral Narratives’ and ‘Cultural and Aesthetics Uses of Myths and Legends.’ Others are ‘The Oral Epic and Heroic Traditions,’ ‘Folktales, Typology and Poetics,’ ‘Folktales, Pedagogy and Morality,’ ‘Story-telling and the New Media,’ ‘Oral Narratives and Dramatic Forms,’ ‘Proverbs, Proverbial Lore and Rhetoric,’ ‘Riddles, Puzzles, Wits, Puns and Tongue-Twisters,’ ‘Fieldwork, Preservation and Transmission of Nigerian Oral Narratives’ and ‘Oral Literatures, Folklore and Curriculum Development.’