International Society for Studies in Oral Tradition: A Virtual Network for Studies of Epic and Other Verbal-Arts Traditions
Author: Zemke, John
Affiliation: University of Missouri

This paper addresses the nature, challenges, and goals of the International Society for Studies in Oral Tradition as envisioned by its founder, the late Professor John Miles Foley.

Launched almost one year ago, and offering itself free-of-charge to its members, the ISSOT should serve scholars and performers as a virtual forum for the discussion of all traditional verbal arts in an interactive exchange of knowledge, experience, views, and the identification and review of multiple disciplinary issues, regardless of the members’ physical location or institutional affiliation.

Among the Society’s principle goals is to serve as a central link, or clearing-house for virtual access to the URL addresses of the world’s archives of digitalized recordings of all genres of traditional verbal arts. Another of the Society’s desiderata is the organization of working groups of scholars and performers who could meet for synchronous and asynchronous virtual discussions of a given relevant topic, textualizing Oral Epic, for instance, and the development of position papers addressing such a topic for dissemination through the website of the International Society for the Studies in Oral Tradition.

These goals and aspirations rest upon the triple premises of cheerful cooperation among the community of scholars and performers, mutual shared enthusiasm for their topic, and the reservation of the time necessary for reflection, discussion, and formalization of reports. There is no doubt regarding the genuine abundance of the first two qualities in this community, it is the negotiation of the third element that may prove problematic and its resolution elusive.

Finally, this paper’s general objectives are to endeavor to further publicize the existence of the International Society for Studies in Oral Tradition, to extend a sincere invitation to potential members to join and take an active role in its sponsored activities, and to induce enthusiasm for the cooperative sharing of resources between its members, who bring their specialized knowledge as performers of traditional verbal arts, as scholars of those verbal arts, and custodians of the archival resources available on the world-wide-web that house the memory record of their diverse forms of realization.
     Keywords:ISSOT, Virtual Network, Interent, Information-sharing