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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Innovation disguised as tradition : commentary and the genesis of art forms

P. 172-208.

The paper describes a dynamic whereby new artistic forms can arise in traditional cultures and shows, that tradition has its own interior motor of innovation. It consists in the practices of commentary, often focused on sacral texts Or phenomena central to the given culture and ostensibly aimed at elucidating their true meaning. The task of interpreting an uncertainty increasing with time going generates a variety of new kinds of discourse. To make sense of the genesis of artistic forms one need therefore a historical poetics of commentary. On the broad survey of diverse kinds of ethnographic and literary evidence the author demonstrates that commentary, in different cultural environment, can give rise to genres of dramatic performance, philosophical inquiry, and fictional storytelling. The author points to the cross-cultural diffusion of the proto-dramatic form that combines an archaic and obscure core with colloquial and interpretive supplement. Commentary as an explanatory satelitte may develop new cultural phenomenon disguised as traditional.

In book

Innovation disguised as tradition : commentary and the genesis of art forms
NY: Fordham University Press, 2016.