Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Giles, James Richard, 1937-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Beech Mountain (N.C.); Hicks; Ray; 1922-; Jack tales--Appalachian Region; Southern; Folklorists--North Carolina--Beech Mountain; Appalachians (People)--United States--Folklore


This dissertation assessed folktales in the Appalachian oral traditions and examined both the history and the cultural impact of them. In it I surveyed existing scholarship concerning orality and the European origins of the Jack Tales and then focused upon a prominent Appalachian recorder of the tales, Ray Hicks, and his influence upon other storytellers. The objectives of this study were: (1) to explore the basic elements of the oral tradition and show how American storytellers have preserved the techniques of oral composition, composition in performance, and performance craft within a literate culture, (2) to analyze the history of The Jack Tales from the first published version in the fifteenth century down to modern-day narratives, (3) to undertake my own analysis of the storytelling methods of Ray Hicks and his special influence on the Jack Tales, and (4) to demonstrate how Hicks's popularity as a storyteller has influenced members of subsequent generations to move beyond the general confines of their own lives and access the historical, philosophical, religious, and regional knowledge of the Beech Mountain culture. Jack Tales derive from a Western European narrative cycle and are the oldest folktales to survive in the North American oral tradition. In the twenty-first century, the Jack Tales continue to retain their place at the forefront of Western oral tradition. Over the centuries the tales of Jack and his adventures have tended to absorb the interests, values, and mores of the culture in which they are operating. The origin of most of the Jack Tales from the Appalachian area can be traced back to the English tales that traveled across the ocean with the original settlers of the new country. Although the Jack Tales are part of an international tradition, Hicks's adaptations are filled with Appalachian culture, topography, and values. Because Hicks has been willing to share his Jack Tales with a wide variety of audiences, his influence has spread beyond Appalachia to include those who are unfamiliar with the stories, the language, and the culture in which the tales have developed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [163]-167)


x, 167 pages




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