Narrative Transformations: Reflections on Frey’s “Carry Forth the Stories”

My commentary on Rodney Frey’s latest ethnography, Carry Forth the Stories: An Ethnographer’s Journey into Native Oral Tradition, was reciently published. It was an honor to be able to review and comment on his book. Rodney was my first mentor and MA advisor. Much of what he taught, and what his mentors showed him, shaped who I am and my approach to ethnography. Here’s a snippet:

“Like the most engaging ethnographies, Frey builds bridges that link people, places, stories, epistemologies, and cultures. But unlike a tangible bridge with a fixed path and destination, Frey, applying an oral history technique, packs your bag and points you in a general direction. He prepares you for a horizon of possibilities, rather than a fixed destination. He constructs a space that empowers readers to discover their own meanings and to make their own interpretations. In other words, Frey lets the story, presented as closely as possible to the style in which it was delivered, speak for itself. Much can happen in the spaces between the story, the storyteller, and the reader. It is in such intersubjective spaces where the story and its spirit, animal, human, and impersonal elements commingle with the perspectives that readers bring to the story at that particular time and place. Stories, experiences, and meanings do not exist unto themselves or unto an individual. Because our lives are an intersubjective project, stories merge and are generated in the spaces between people, beings, and objects…”

You can read the introduction and my full commentary here

Even better, pick up a copy of Carry Forth the Stories

Carry Forth the Stories cover

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