Stepanova: Mythic Knowledge and Vernacular Imagination in Finnic Lament Traditions

In the anchor study “Mythic Knowledge and Vernacular Imagination in Finnic Lament Traditions”, Eila Stepanova will investigate the intersection of belief traditions with poetic register and the conventional contents and structures of North Finnic lament traditions (e.g. Karelian, Ingrian, Vepsian). Finnic lament poetries represent a tradition of unfixed meters and highly specialized poetic language believed to be understood by the dead. This project will survey the similarities and differences in aspects of traditional lament among different North Finnic groups on local, regional and linguistic-cultural bases. The survey will extend to connections and contrasts of Finnic laments to other vernacular genres on the one hand and to Northern Russian laments and Lithuanian laments as genres of Northeast Europe on the other. The investigation will employ a register-based approach in order to examine how collective traditions intersect and are transformed at the level of the individual. The study will consider the role of the individual in the development and maintenance of social conventions of the tradition, both within small communities and across linguistic-cultural groups.