John Miles Foley

John Miles FOLEY was a prolific scholar and perhaps the leading expert of his generation on the oral transmission of ancient culture. William H. Byler Professor of Humanities (1985-2012) and Curators’ Chair of Classical Studies and English (1997-2012) at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He received his A.B. from Colgate University where he majored in physics, mathematics, and chemistry. He switched to English literature for his M.A. (1971) and to English and Comparative Literature for his Ph.D. (1974), both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.   He was director of the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition (1985-2012) and the Center for eResearch (206-12), he chaired the Classics Department (1996-2000).  His first teaching position was as assistant professor of English at Emory (1974-9). At the University of Missouri he was associate professor (1979-83) and professor (1983-2012) of English, professor of Classical Studies (1991-2012), adjunct professor of Anthropology (1992-2012), and professor of Germanic and Slavic languages (2003-12).  He did visiting stints at the University of Belgrade (1980) and Harvard (1976-7, 1980-1) He was a fellow of the Nordic Institute for Advanced Studies, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (1994), and the American Folklore Society, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1980-1), a senior fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (1995-6) a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the International Folklore Fellows (Helsinki) learned societies, and a special advisor to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2009). He directed NEH Summer Seminars for College Teachers (1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, and 1994) and for School Teachers (1996).
Homer’s Original Art won Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Book Award (2000) and, for The Wedding of Mustajbey’s Son Bećirbey as Performed by Halil Bajgorić, won the Biennial Award (2004-2005) for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition from the Modern Language Association.
He wrote over 160 articles and numerous reviews.
Oral-Formulaic Theory and Research: An Introduction and Annotated Bibliography (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985; repr. 1986, 1989); The Theory of Oral Composition: History and Methodology (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988; repr. 1992; Chinese version trans. Chao Gejin (Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2000); Traditional Oral Epic: The Odyssey, Beowulf, and the Serbo-Croatian Return Song (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990; repr. 1993); Immanent Art: From Structure to Meaning in Oral Traditional Epic (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991); The Singer of Tales in Performance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995); Homer’s Traditional Art (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999); How to Read an Oral Poem (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002)
Books Edited:
Oral Traditional Literature: A Festschrift for Albert Bates Lord (Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers, 1981; repr. 1983); Oral Tradition, a special issue of Canadian-American Slavic Studies, 15, i (1981); Oral Tradition in Literature: Interpretation in Context (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1986); Comparative Research on Oral Traditions: A Memorial for Milman Parry (Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers, 1987); East European Folklore, a special issue of Southeastern Europe, 10 (1983), 1987; Oral-Formulaic Theory: A Casebook (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990);  De Gustibus: Essays for Alain Renoir (New York: Garland Publishing, 1992); Teaching Oral Traditions (New York: Modern Language Association, 1998); The Epic: Oral and Written, with Lauri Honko and Jawaharlal Handoo (Mysore, India: Central Institute of Indian Languages, 1998); Epea and Grammata: Oral and Written Communication in Ancient Greece, ed. with Ian Worthington (Leiden: Brill, 2002); The Wedding of Mustajbey’s Son Bećirbey as Performed by Halil Bajgorić (ed. & trans.) Folklore Fellows Communications, vol. 283 (Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004); Performing the Gospel: Orality, Memory, and Mark : Essays Dedicated to Werner Kelber,  ed. with Richard A. Horsley and Jonathan A. Draper (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006); A Companion to Ancient Epic (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005; repr. 2008).

ARTICLES (SAMPLE): “The Problem of Aesthetics in Oral and Oral-Derived Texts,” Homer 1987: Papers of the Third Greenbank Colloquium, April 1987, ed. John Pinsent & H. V. Hurt
 (Liverpool : Liverpool Classical Monthly, 1992) 51-63; “Oral Tradition and Homeric Art : The Hymn to Demeter, New Light on a Dark Age: Exploring the Culture of Geometric Greece, ed. Susan Langdon (Columbia, MO:  University of Missouri Press. 1997) 144-53; “Traditional Signs and Homeric Art,” Written Voices, Spoken Signs: Tradition, Performance, and the Epic Text, ed. Egbert J. Bakker and Ahuvia Kahane
 (Cambridge (Mass.); London : Harvard University Press, 1997) 56-82; “Epic cycles and Epic Traditions,” Euphrosyne: Studies in Ancient Epic and Its Legacy in Honor of Dimitris N. Maronitis, ed. John N. Kazazis and Antonios Rengakos
 (Stuttgart : Steiner, 1999
) 99-108; “The Textualization of South Slavic Epic and Its Implications for Oral-Derived Epic,” Textualization of Oral Epics,  ed. Lauri Honko
 (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2000) 71-87; “Reading between the Signs,” Inclinate aurem: Oral Perspectives on Early European Verbal Culture: A Symposium, ed. Jan Helldén, Minna Skafte Jensen and Thomas Pettitt (Odense: Odense University Press, 2001) 83-110; “L'épopée du retour et le/la vrai(e) héros/héroïne de l'«Odyssée»,” La mythologie et l'« Odyssée » : hommage à Gabriel Germain : actes du colloque international de Grenoble, 20-22 mai 1999 / textes réunis par André Hurst et Françoise Létoublon
 (Geneva: Droz, 2002
) 249-57; “What South Slavic Oral Epic Can ­– and Cannot - Tell Us about Homer,”  « Epea pteroenta » : Beiträge zur Homerforschung : Festschrift für Wolfgang Kullmann zum 75. Geburtstag , ed. Michael Reichel und Antonios Rengakos (Stuttgart : Steiner, 2002
) 53-62; A Companion to Ancient Epic (ed.) (Oxford : Blackwell, 2005); “Fieldwork on Homer,” New Directions in Oral Theory,  ed. Mark C. Amodio (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005) 15-41.
He was the editor of Oral Tradition (1986-2012); A.B. Lord Studies in Oral Tradition, (1987-98); Voices in Performance and Text, 1994-99; Poetics of Orality and Literacy, (2004-12).

May 3, 2012

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