Poetics of Conduct: Oral Narrative and Moral Being in a South Indian Town

Kobo ebook | July 16, 2012

byLeela Prasad

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Leela Prasad's riveting book presents everyday stories on subjects such as deities, ascetics, cats, and cooking along with stylized, publicly delivered ethical discourse, and shows that the study of oral narrative and performance is essential to ethical inquiry. Prasad builds on more than a decade of her ethnographic research in the famous Hindu pilgrimage town of Sringeri, Karnataka, in southwestern India, where for centuries a vibrant local culture has flourished alongside a tradition of monastic authority. Oral narratives and the seeing-and-doing orientations that are part of everyday life compel the question: How do individuals imagine the normative, and negotiate and express it, when normative sources are many and diverging? Moral persuasiveness, Prasad suggests, is intimately tied to the aesthetics of narration, and imagination plays a vital role in shaping how people create, refute, or relate to "text," "moral authority," and "community." Lived understandings of ethics keep notions of text and practice in flux and raise questions about the constitution of "theory" itself. Prasad's innovative use of ethnography, poetics, philosophy of language, and narrative and performance studies demonstrates how the moral self, with a capacity for artistic expression, is dynamic and gendered, with a historical presence and a political agency.

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Leela Prasad's riveting book presents everyday stories on subjects such as deities, ascetics, cats, and cooking along with stylized, publicly delivered ethical discourse, and shows that the study of oral narrative and performance is essential to ethical inquiry. Prasad builds on more than a decade of her ethnographic research in the fa...

Leela Prasad is assistant professor of practical ethics and Indian religions at Duke University. She has edited Live Like the Banyan Tree: Images of the Indian American Experience and coedited Gender and Story in South India. Her book in progress, Annotating Pastimes, is a study of folktale collecting in colonial India.
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:July 16, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231511272

ISBN - 13:9780231511278

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Note on Translation and Transliteration
Introduction
1. Sringeri: Place and Placeness
2. Connectedness and Reciprocity: Historicizing Sringeri Upacara
3. Shastra: Divine Injunction and Earthly Custom
4. "The Shastras Say... ": Idioms of Legitimacy and the "Imagined Text"
5. In the Courtyard of Dharma, Not at the Village Square: Delivering Ashirvada in Sringeri
6. Edifying Lives, Discerning Proprieties: Conversational Stories and Moral Being
Ethics, an Imagined Life
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

Her detailed, emphatic, and beautiful ethnography draws the reader into a consideration of issues that textual scholars struggle to "make relevant."