Displaced Belief: The Role of Religious Textual Conventions in the Practices of Production and Interpretation of Meaning in English Literary Texts


  • Rosemary Huisman


In the beginning, people communicate with each other making verbal noise, which becomes talking to each other. Conversation is the first genre of language. In this early culture there is no writing and the knowledge gained through experience can become the accumulated wisdom of tradition only if it is can be transmitted in speech. For this transmission to be reasonably successful, such speech should be memorable, reducing the casual variety of language features characteristic of conversation. And this second genre of memorable speech is poetry, or at least verse or proverbial aphorisms. Orally composed poetry, with its memorable repetitions of sound and meaning - such as rhythmic and phonemic patterns, repeated epithets and formulae, repeated thematic concerns and motifs - served then a culturally central function.