on June 11, 2008
I use this excellent documentary source with success in a storytelling class I've taught periodically over the past 10 years. Jack tales are a rarified regional tradition as well as a type of folk hero tale with many connections to other North American and global oral traditions. Their geneology is here traced and illustrated by phonetic transcriptions of a number of performances by different generations of Jack tale tellers from the central Appalachians, each accompanied by an introductory essay. It's a useful case study of how a particular tale type entered the country and spread among a small localized and often related group of tellers, migrated into text form and then out again, and became in one sense the archtypal tale type of the American storytelling revival, thanks to the late Ray Hicks of Beech Mountain, who leads off the bunch and headlined the first decade or so of national festivals in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Last fall after the festival I had the good fortune to visit my uncle's church in Banner Elk, at the foot of Beech Mountain, where I met a couple of Marshall Ward's former students, who remembered him telling Jack tales to assembled students every Friday after school.
Available elsewhere are audio versions of these Jack tales by at least some of the tellers included in this book: Ray Hicks, Marshall Ward, and Donald Davis.