Narrations of fear: from old inscriptions to new orality (FEAR)

HRZZ, 2017 – 2021

Summary: The goal of the project Narrations of fear: from old inscriptions to new orality is to find out how, by different story-telling strategies and events, retold fears are shaped, stimulated and directed and how they disappear in everyday direct communication, and also in public discourse – in media, social networks, literature and performing arts. A diverse team of researchers intends to put together recent insights of folkloristic and other humanistic approaches towards fear in narrative texts of various kinds, from old folkloristic accounts, court files and prisoners’ testimonies to the narrations of “communities of memory” formed in networks. Research will show the intertwining of codes of written and oral, media and network “narrative cultures” of fear, single out the elements of articulation in story-telling and auto-reflection of a speaker engulfed in fear, as well as recognise the magical capacity of language to enable a speaker to face fear (so called ritual “expulsion of fear”), i.e., treat fear therapeutically (for instance through narrative therapy and stories on trauma). Through numerous fieldwork and archival research, digital “fear archive” and theoretical questioning of the phenomenon that is, in addition to hope and humiliation, considered essential for understanding new geopolitical and cultural divisions of the countries of the world, the associates on the project will contribute to better understanding of political and affective, collective and individual, social and virtual behaviours of people in whose foundation rest (mostly unconscious) fears, drives and beliefs. The intention of the project is to animate folklore study as a humanistically grounded, innovative and reflexive discipline that observes every phenomenon of verbal folklore in its completeness – from individual variation to cultural specificity and universal humanity.

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