Challenges Facing Oral Literature
Oral Literature | Literature | Literature and Language | Language and literature | Importance of litearture | Challenges of literature | What is Literature | Why Literature is Importance
Oral literature has encountered many challenges in the course of its development from time immemorial.
Most of the forms of oral literature are either extinct or in different stages towards extinction.
Oral literature has been affected in the areas of preservation (which was predominantly dependent upon human memory), presentation (predominantly through words of mouth), and growth (spread).
On one side, the biggest challenge has been the death of the artists (elders) who had preserved these works in their memory. Their deaths lead inevitably to the death of the literary works they had preserved altogether.
On the other side, the artist may forget or change some important aspects of the story to the point that as the story is told from time to time across generations it loses its original quality.
In order to combat the problem and due to the development of science and technology, there have been some deliberate attempts to preserve oral literature using modern methods including; written form (books), tapes, DVDs, CDs, Computers, etc.
We are going to look at how the development of science and technology has had tremendous effects on these aspects and how oral literature has changed dramatically
The Impacts of Science and Technology on Oral Literature
1. It becomes expensive if preserved/stored in modern storage devices.
Oral literature is known to be transmitted freely from one generation to another. It involves less or no cost to get oral literature works. However, the attempt to preserve oral literature works from extinction has made it expensive and costly.
If it is preserved in modern devices like CDs, DVDs, Tapes, Memory cards, Computers, books etc.; one will have to buy them to be able to listen and watch these works.
2. There is no face-to-face interaction between the artist and the audience
Since oral literature is preserved in modern devices it has lost its liveliness since the artist and the audience do not interact face to face. So, the artist cannot involve the audience in clapping, singing, dancing, or doing other actions they would do if they had a direct contact.
3. There is delay of feedback
It is very hard for the artist to get the feedback from the audience when oral literature is preserved and presented through modern devices.
The artist may be living in another country or even continent where the audience can hardly give them the feedback. So, the artist cannot assess immediately is their works are successful or not.
4. There is no specific setting
Literary works stored in other forms than human memory do not need a specific setting. One doesn’t need to go to the theatre to watch a drama stored in a DVD, or VCD.
One can watch it at home, in the bus, in the classroom, or anywhere through the computer or smartphone.
5. It changes the medium of presentation.
There is absence of performance (sound effects and actions) if stored in writings. It is difficult to call the work of art stored in written form as oral literature.
Oral literature loses some of its qualities when stored in other forms than human memory since literary works preserved in writings will no longer be called “oral” but “written”.
So the medium of presentation is no longer performance but reading.
6. Due to copyright issues it no longer belongs to the society.
It becomes the property of the artist. Any literary work preserved in form of a CD, DVD, book, VCD, and other forms than human memory, belong to the artist who preserved them.
Other people are not free to use the works without permission from the artist. So instead of being a product of the society it becomes a product of the author.
7. It does not involve all members of the community.
If oral literature is preserved in other forms it begins to discriminate some members of the society who are illiterate.
If stored in written form for instance, only those who can read will be able to know what is written there.
Those with hearing impairment cannot enjoy the works stored in audio devices.
8. Vulnerability of storage devices
Some devices like CDs, DVDs, computers; TVs, etc. are susceptible to damage. The modern devices are vulnerable, delicate and susceptible to damage.
If the device is damaged or lost the work stored in it is also damaged or lost completely. These devices need a careful handling unless otherwise all the works will be lost.
9. It becomes rigid to change.
It doesn’t change easily because one cannot change or edit something printed in a book or written on CD, DVD, or VCD.
The drama recorded in India will be played the same way across the world without considering the culture of other peoples (races). Even when there is a content that is morally unacceptable in another culture one cannot change it.
10. Lack of motivation in oral literature.
The modern devices have made people lose interest in old forms of oral literature. It is hard today to find young children gathered around the evening fire, listening to the stories from grandpas or grandmas.
They rather like sitting at the sitting room watching video films and movies than going to the theatre to watch live performances. Because of that many works are lost and forgotten.
The liveliness of oral literature depended on the extent to which it was passed from one generation to another. Since it is no longer passed in the same manner, the works are lost when the elders who had preserved these works die.