(Re)building traditional narratives: writing exercises from windows and mirrors

Submitted by: Paulo Costa
Abstract: Oral tradition narratives constitute a fundamental element in the construction of common references, and, in this sense, they appear both as an object and in an instrumental perspective at various points in the educational pathways. We intended, with this study, to identify the features of written texts that emerge – categories (Reis, 2001), planning, textualization and strategies (Carvalho, 2012) - when the induction of this practice is done through narratives of oral tradition. We started from students' previous knowledge of the story in order to perceive the most significant changes in terms of the options taken at retelling. We used the data collected in the context of an exercise combining the reading / retelling of traditional narrative texts with writing practices. This activity involved fifty students attending training linked to professions in the educational area from two higher education establishments and took the form of a workshop that was operationalized as follows: 1) A traditional narrative, known to all the students involved, was identified by its title. 2) Students were asked to write their version of the story. 3) A written version of the story was read to students (Coelho, 2009) Students were asked to rewrite the story by changing one of the narrative categories (space, time, characters, action, narrator). The content analysis seems to indicate, on the one hand, a prior knowledge that is reasonably standardized, with little significant variants, and, on the other hand, for a retelling/rewriting option that does not seem to privilege a category of specific narrative in an evident way, although time and the introduction of a different outcome from the original one are the most recurrent strategies.
Keywords: oral tradition narrative; writing practices; higher education.
Carvalho, J. (2012). Ensinar e aprender a escrever no século XXI – (Re)configurando um velho objeto escolar. Anais do SIELP (vol.2). Uberlândia: EDUFU.
Coelho, A. (2009). Contos Populares Portugueses, Alfragide: Leya.
Reis, C. (2001). O conhecimento da literatura. Introdução aos estudos literários. Coimbra: Almedina.