Frog: Genre and Mythic Knowledge through the Ages

In the anchor study “Genre and Mythic Knowledge through the Ages: Perspectives on Early Germanic and Finno-Karelian Oral Poetries”, Frog examines the social negotiation of interfaces between mythic knowledge and oral poetry in long-term perspective. This will be examined through two oral-poetic traditions that should prove reciprocally informative: early Germanic poetries (with emphasis on Old Norse eddic and skaldic verse) and North Finnic kalevalaic poetry (with emphasis on epic and incantation). This study will first examine the processual relationship of mythic knowledge to oral poetry as a system of representation. It will a) consider the degree to which mythic knowledge is an integrated part of genres and poetic systems, b) explore how the genre or poetic system may reciprocally shape the representation and communication of mythic knowledge, and c) assess indications that these relationships may change over time. Considerations will extend to the emergence, variation and historical circulation of mythological narratives in conventional poetic forms (i.e. not just „stories‟ but „poems‟, or stories in socially recognizable textual representations). From poetic systems and narrative poems, analysis will advance to address individual and social functions or goals in poetic expression: it will investigate social negotiation and the development of mythic knowledge and narratives in relation to genre. Sources of early Germanic poetries are extremely limited, but they present cases in which diachronic continuities and transformations of mythic knowledge can be traced in synchronic documentations for the better part of a millennium. North Finnic poetries were documented much later but far more extensively, allowing individual variation to be explored and allowing regional variation within the largely synchronic corpus to become approachable as outcomes of social negotiation as a historical process. Together, these complementary corpora have the potential to offer new and unexpected insights into relationships of the individual to long-term processes in the social negotiation of mythic knowledge.