CONTEMPORARY NARRATIONS: THE INTERNET FOLKLORE Cover Image
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ÉLEMENTS D’ETHNOLOGIE CONTEMPORAINE. LE FOLKLORE SUR L’INTERNET
CONTEMPORARY NARRATIONS: THE INTERNET FOLKLORE

Author(s): Eleonora Sava
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai
Keywords: Folklore; Internet; Narrations; Postmodern Media Culture.

Summary/Abstract: Contemporary Narrations: the Internet Folklore. The present study suggests an anthropological “radiography” of messages that can be named Internet Folklore since they have a theoretically infinite number of addressees, do not convey a personal content for a unique recipient; on the contrary, they imply a largely general character and in the end can contain the indication to be sent to as many recipients as possible. Messages of this type verify a series of folklore defining features, mentioned by the classical textbooks: the anonymous character (the message’s initial transmitter is often unknown), the syncretic character (they use text, images and sound at the same time, being multimedia messages), the traditional character (many of them are built on familiar epic structures, typical for the oral narrations). At the same time, they require a redefinition of the folklore because the conveying way is not oral, non-mediated (man to man and mouth to ear) but written, mediated, through a non-traditional channel (Internet) that in its turn involves a series of contextual modifications. The group of messages on which I base my analysis was gathered during two years (2007 – 2008) and contains mostly narrations. From a typological point of view, they can be integrated in four great categories: jokes, urban legends, rumors and chain messages. The addressees and addressers were teenagers and adults, mainly girls and women (it’s about messages received by this study’s author). Most of the texts are written in Romanian but there are some in other languages, too: English, French. The chosen examples show the vitality of the folklore, contradicting the opinions which supported its disappearance, since the contemporary societies, like the traditional ones are creators and carriers of folklore. The addressee of these messages is a public that has never ceased to tell stories and to trust the power of story to take possession and signify the reality. The comparison of folklore-traditional narrations with those sent through Internet shows only superficial differences: the medieval or rustic settings, the mythical characters and the conflicts that motivated the heroes’ actions have disappeared; the texts have neither the complexity nor the amplitude of the old fairy tales. In essence though, they are built on the same logic of symbolic nature and resort to the same narrative elements – action schemes, characters, significance systems – that exist within the cultural register shared with both the recipient public and the old narrations.

  • Issue Year: 54/2009
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 47-64
  • Page Count: 18
  • Language: French