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Current Research

Medieval Oral Literature


Paperback edition published 2016 (34,95 €)!


Medieval Oral Literature. Edited by Karl Reichl. De Gruyter Lexikon. Berlin, Boston: de Gruyter, 2011. 743 pp., 27 illustrations.

This book provides a comprehensive survey of medieval oral literature with chapters:

  • on theoretical questions of the interplay of orality and literacy in the Middle Ages,
  • on the application of the Oral Theory to medieval literature,
  • on questions of poetics and aesthetics,
  • on various oral/literary traditions from medieval Ireland to Russia, from Iceland to the Hispanic Peninsula, the Arabic world and medieval Turkey and Persia,
  • on different genres: lyric, epic, ballad, drama, and ritual poetry.
  • The book is written by an international group of scholars.



Turkic Oral Epic Poetry

My study of Turkic Oral Epic Poetry (1992) was re-edited in 2018 in the series “Routledge Revivals”:

Turkic Oral Epic Poetry: Traditions, Forms, Poetic Structure. Abington & New York: Routledge, 2018.


The Oral Epic from Performance to Interpretation


This book aims at providing a detailed analysis and discussion of oral epic poetry. Simply put, the basic question the book seeks to answer is: “What are we missing as readers of the printed text of an oral epic and how important is what we are missing for the understanding and interpretation of the text?” This question concerns not only textualized oral epics but by extension also oral-derived epic poetry such as the Homeric epics.


What we are missing as readers of the text of an oral epic is everything that defines and characterizes its performance. The terms “voice”, “gesture” and “music” signalize the emphasis on the epic performance as a communicative event, with the singer-narrator in the centre: as a physical presence, as a narrating voice, as an actor and interpreter, and as a musician. While the central part of the book will be devoted to performance, the underlying question of how relevant performance features are for the interpretation of the epic will be addressed in detail in the final chapters.

The book was published in 2021 (copyright 2022) as hardback and ebook. Eight audio and video files can be downloaded from the publisher's website.


For 2022 the following publication is scheduled:

"Orality, Vocality, and Textuality“ , Chapter 1 in Routledge Companion to Medieval English Literature in a Trans-European Context, 1100-1500. Ed. by Raluca Radulescu & Sif Rikardsdottir.