Paschal Kyoore


Professor of French in Modern Languages, Literature, and Cultures, Professor and Director in African Studies, and Professor in LALACS

I had my university education in three different continents, at six different universities in four different education systems, in Ghana, France, Spain, and the USA. This has served me and my students well. Apart from my expertise in French language, and French, African, and Caribbean literatures and cultures, I also have expertise in public administration. I obtained an M.A. in Public Administration from Minnesota State University-Mankato in the USA, and I have taught January Term courses on Human Resource Management in the public sector. I have also taught this course as a First Term Seminar, a required writing and critical thinking course for first year students who are in the Curriculum I program.

For a number of years now, I have been doing research on folktales, riddles, proverbs, and other forms of African folklore, and my research has been done in Ghana (West Africa), focusing mainly on the Dagara people of Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. I have published two collections of folktales. I have taught January Term courses on African folklore. Also, I have taught a January Term course in Ghana, and co-taught one in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago) with my departmental colleague Dr. Hayden Duncan, and hope to teach such courses again in the future.


I was part of a group of Gustavus professors who went to Namibia in 2003 for a workshop on social justice, and I plan to teach a January Term course in that country some time in the future. I have good connections in Namibia to help me with the logistics of such a course there.

Apart from courses on French language, French, African, and Caribbean literatures and cultures, I teach courses for the African Studies Program. Additionally, I teach a First Term Seminar (FTS) with a focus on Public Personnel Management, titled "Managing People in Public Sector". My research focuses mainly on gender and identity issues, colonial and post-colonial encouters, and Dagara (West African) folklore. 

                                                            SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Paschal Kyoore Wins 2018 Faculty Scholarly Accomplishment Award. Kyoore was recognized for publications on the historical novel, female identity in the African novel, and research and writing on Dagara folklore.   Posted on July 12th, 2018 by JJ Akin '11 

Book:    The African and Caribbean Historical Novel in French: A Quest for Identity. New York:  Peter Lang Publishing, 1996  [reprinted 1999].

Book:  Folktales of the Dagara of West Africa (vol 1).  Accra – Legon: Qolins-Akan Publishing, 2009.

Book:  Dagara Folk Tales: From Ghana and Burkina Faso. New Orleans: University Press of the South, 2012.

Book: Contes et légendes dagara: Ghana.  Paris: L’Harmattan, 2017.

Book: Dagara Verbal Art: An African Tradition. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2018.

Book chapter: “A Study of Dagara Proverbs” in Alexis Tengan (ed). Christianity and Cultural History in Northern Ghana: A Portrait of Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery (1918-2008). Bruxelles: Peter Lang Publishing, 2013.

Book chapter: “L’humour satirique dans l’œuvre romanesque d’Ahmadou Kourouma: En attendant le Vote des Bêtes Sauvages” in Jean Ouédraogo (ed). Ahmadou Kourouma: Elements d’une Œuvre Continue. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2010.

Book chapter: “Tradition, Modernity, and the Clash of Cultures in African Society: The Example of Burkina Faso”.  In Michelle Beauclair (ed). The Francophone World: Cultural Issues and Perspectives. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2003.

Article : « Race and Idealization of Love in Sylvie Ntsame’s La Fille du Komo”. The French Review. March 2020.

Article: “Female Identity in Algerian Writing: Malika Mokeddem’s Des Rêves et des AssassinsInternational Journal of Humanities & Social Science Invention. Vol 3. Issue 5 (May 2014): pp 4-13.

Article:  “A Study of Riddles among the Dagara of Ghana and Burkina Faso”.  Journal of Dagaare Studies.  vol. 7-10 (2010): 22-40.            

Article:  “History, Political Discourse,  and Narrative Strategies in the African Novel: Ahmadou Kourouma’s Allah n’est pas obligé”.  International Third World Studies Journal & Review. Vol. 25 (2004): 7-14.

Article republished on request of editor and with permission of author in on-line journal: Sea Breeze: Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings. October 2005.

Article:   “The Antillean’s Quest for Identity: The Maroon as Historical Figure in Roland Brival’s La Montagne d’ébène”.   International Third World Studies Journal & Review. vol. 6 (1994).

Review of Cheick Chérif Keïta. Massa Makan Diabaté: Un Griot mandingue à la rencontre de l’écriture. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1995. In Matatu: Journal for African Culture & Society. No. 17-18 (1997).

 Review of Ahmadou Koné. Des textes oraux au roman moderne: Etudes sur les avatars de la tradition orale dans le roman ouest-africain. Frankfurt: Verlag für Interkuturelle Kommunikation, 1993.  In Matatu: Journal for African Culture & Society. No. 15-16 (1996).

Review of: Aura Marina Boadas. Lo barroco en la obra de Jacques Stephen Alexis. Caracas: FUNDACION CELARG, 1992.   In Research in African Literatures.  vol. 26, no. 2. (Summer 1995).


Dagara Verbal Art: An African Tradition. By Paschal Kyoore. (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2018. Pp. xii + 273, acknowledgements, introduction, notes, bibliography. $114.95 hardcover.)

Paschal Kyoore wrote Dagara Verbal Art: An African Tradition concerned that “[t]here is no single study on Dagara oral tradition that encompasses different genres such as proverbs, folktales, riddles, xylophone and folk songs, and praise singing” (2). Kyoore sets out to fill that vacuum by presenting materials collected through his fieldwork, which included interviewing artists, recording their performances, and collecting and trans- lating audiocassette recordings.

Kyoore analyzes the folklore he presents with special emphasis on meanings and functions in Dagara society. He provides cultural references and interpretations informed by the idea of verbal art as performance, whose meaning derives from its context. He invokes established folklore concepts, discussing whether they apply to Dagara folklore. Noting, for example, Laura Makarius’s theory of the trickster, Kyoore ob- serves that the Dagara trickster does not defy the Supreme Be- ing. He questions the validity of certain non-African concepts, such as patriarchy, in discussing African folklore. Interest- ingly, Kyoore uses the concept of magical realism, albeit with circumspection—though it would have been safer to avoid the concept altogether due to the association of “magical realism” with literary traditions and their corresponding mindsets, no- tably Latin American, rather than African oral traditions.

Kyoore’s exploration of gender in Dagara folklore is en- gaging, offering a range of perspectives. His discussion of the role of women in the preservation and transmission of Dagara folklore confirms our growing understanding of women as nar- rators in African folklore. He notes that young Dagara female narrators tend to tell stories with female protagonists. This al- lows them to “control the environment of storytelling by ap- propriating the right to choose tales that create the possibility for them to make a social comment on gender in their society... and in the process they invite their listeners to examine certain norms in their society” (80).

The issue of gender continues to feature in the chapter on dirges, praise songs, and praise singers. We learn that male singers sing dirges and women perform praise songs. The rea- son for this division is not clear, but there are suggestions that women performing at funerals might cause someone to die.

This prohibition, however, is gradually losing its hold as Da- gara society continues to change, especially under the influence of Christianity.

The chapter on speech masterfully explains the principles and modalities of speech in Dagara society, including the value of silence and indirection. The chapter “The Art of Proverb Usage” provides examples of the use of proverbs in real life, once again demonstrating very well the importance of context. In addition, Kyoore explores how or if ideas concerning Af- rican proverbs—stated by scholars like Finnegan, Arewa, and Dundes—apply to Dagara proverbs.

One of the distinctive features of Dagara folklore is use of the xylophone. Kyoore demonstrates that the xylophone is the most important musical instrument and that xylophone music is so tied up with verbal artistry that it deserves to be considered a distinct form of verbal art. It is fascinating to learn that one is recognized as a professional xylophone musician when he can perform at a public funeral.

Kyoore affirms the concept of folklore as an event and offers a portrait of Dagara folklore as a dynamic phenome- non that accommodates change. A key source of change is Catholicism. Artists who have embraced Catholicism carry on the folklore tradition but eschew elements such as super- natural protections against jealous competitors. They dissoci- ate themselves from beliefs in occult forces that are common among artists.

Dagara Verbal Art is a comprehensive presentation of Dagara folklore. In addition to analyzing and interpreting the folklore, it explores the relationships among various genres: how, for example, folktales relate to riddles and puzzles, how riddling precedes the telling of folktales, and how songs func- tion in the tales. A scholarly study that is readable, engaging, and peppered with interesting and memorable anecdotes, Da- gara Verbal Art is suitable for general readership and courses on folklore.


St. Olaf College Northfield, Minnesota

Dagara Verbal Art: An African Tradition by Paschal Kyoore (review)

Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler

Journal of American Folklore, Volume 133, Number 529, Summer 2020, pp. 362-363 (Review)

Published by American Folklore Society

For additional information about this article

362 Journal of American Folklore 133 (2020)

Dagara Verbal Art: An African Tradition. By Paschal Kyoore. (New York: Peter Lang, 2018. Pp. xii + 273, introduction, references, index.)

Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler

Western Michigan University

This book is about the verbal art forms of the Dagara people of Northern Ghana: their folk- tales, proverbs, and riddles. The Dagara verbal arts and their performers have not long been known to folklorists. In fact, this is the first study to document the Dagara folklore. Paschal Kyoore argues that the knowledge and perfor- mance of Dagara verbal arts held the community together and gave them their sense of iden- tity, even when colonialism worked to divide the community. Although knowledge of the Dagara oral art forms was practiced and trans- mitted both during and after colonialism, the years after colonialism brought new challenges to the Dagara, as well as to other ethnic groups in Africa. It became difficult for the Dagara to formally study and preserve their cultural heritage, that is, to publicize and politicize that heritage inside, outside, and among members of the fragmented Dagara-speaking community that had been divided by the colonial states.

Even though the Dagara community was divided and subsequently incorporated into sep- arate nation-states, Dagara folklore continued to evolve and diffuse from village to village. In this engaging study, Kyoore identifies a number of functions of Dagara tales, moving away from a Western interpretive frame. Instead, he fo- cuses on the performance and storytelling contexts. Dagara narrative folklore covers a variety of themes, including ones involving the flora and fauna that characterize Dagara land, in addition to utilizing humor and wit.

Dagara Verbal Art: An African Tradition is composed of twelve chapters, each addressing and analyzing aspects of Dagara verbal art forms. Kyoore bases his analysis on a substantial corpus of oral tradition, which he collected and translated over several years in various perfor- mance contexts. For him, Dagara verbal art is a distinctive mode of communication and a valuable source of knowledge about culture, language, history, and religion. In chapter 1, Kyoore lays out his collection method and de- velops his theoretical framework for analysis of these folktales, riddles, and proverbs. He main- tains that “there are many advantages in using technology to record folktales on audio and videocassette” (p. 5), which enables the collec- tor of said folklore to examine the material closely; however, technology creates an artificial environment in a storytelling performance con- text or during an interview with storytellers.

In chapter 2, Kyoore examines Dagara prov- erbs, an important part of the culture and language. In the Dagara language, he maintains, the word zukpar means both a proverb and a riddle. The distinction between the two catego- ries is made in the context in which they are uttered (p. 6). The word zukpar is used for both riddles and proverbs and often is utilized in the opening performances of folktales. Proverbs, on the other hand, are used in everyday con- versation to communicate clearly. Proverbs are also used by Dagara people to impress their audiences as well as to set the performance context. Zukpar, for Kyoore, is an amalgamation of both verbal and nonverbal art forms (p. 6).

Chapter 3 focuses on aspects of Dagara culture as they relate to folktales, riddles, and proverbs. The terms that are used in Dagara oral tradition cannot always be translated into English because of nuances in the Dagara language. With this in mind, Kyoore explores Dagara verbal art forms in their authentic cultural contexts. The approach Kyoore takes is of interest to folklorists, as it enables the collector to explain the meaning of the verbal art forms for the local people in question. Kyoore’s method provides useful information for folklorists to better understand the differing meanings of verbal art forms in the context of their varying usages.

While Kyoore’s meticulous collection pro- vides a useful store of information, his superb method of folklore collection in performance leads to detailed contextual background, which clarifies the meanings of oral art forms in the milieu of their utterances as well as their socio- cultural importance. Kyoore’s method is illuminating in that he offers an understanding of the meaning of verbal art forms as they are used in specific contexts, with extensive commentaries about their sociocultural importance. Oral art forms such as proverbs and riddles are important as they reflect a deeper understanding of the cultural wisdom, encouraging culturally appropriate interlocution.

Kyoore’s book demonstrates how verbal art forms permeate the life of people in Dagara as well as all over Africa. Storytelling creates diverse contexts that generate a collective spirit among members of African societies. Oral lit- erature in this African society, however, expresses invisible yet emotionally felt dimensions of life, culture, religion, collective memory, and wisdom of the community. In Dagara Verbal Art, it is this collective memory and wisdom that is reflected.

Kyoore takes an emic approach to studying folklore, grounding his subject within the so- ciocultural context of the group he studied. He complements his insider perspective with a uniquely and carefully distilled theoretical framework, drawn from broadly conceived folkloristic studies in the West in addition to Africa. For Kyoore, Western theories provide powerful perspectives, but they are inadequate without emic views if the goal is to fully understand and appreciate the beauty and complexity of Dagara verbal art. In Dagara, as in any other African society, community folklore is interwoven with individual lives and everyday practices, and the boundaries between them are permeable in contextual utterances. For Kyoore, Dagara verbal art is a creative process that speaks to mythic beginnings and sources and is firmly rooted in the mythologies of African peoples themselves.

Kyoore’s work is a welcome addition to folk- lore studies of the modern world, in particular the post-colonial African world, where geopolitical changes have brought about new alignments and positionings. The book provides a fascinating discussion of Dagara cultural heritage and offers remarkable information on Dagara folklore, giving the reader an enlightened impression of Dagara art forms. Folklore scholars and students will appreciate the discus- sion that Kyoore’s understanding of the term “emic” offers, with details about the kinds of folklore used in social contexts. This is a book primarily about the Dagara people, and it includes the presence of extensive cultural commentaries and examples of storytelling to illustrate its points. Kyoore has written a highly recommendable book, which presents and analyzes a wealth of folklore material.


B.A (Hons) French/Spanish University of Ghana-Legon; Diploma in Spanish, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain); Diploma in Spanish Language & Culture—DIE Universitas, Madrid (Spain); M.A, D.E.A, Université de Bordeaux III (France); Ph.D. Ohio State University (USA); MPA Minnesota State University-Mankato (USA)

Courses Taught

AFS-190 (Intro. to Africa), FRE-099 (French Portfolio), FRE-101 (French I), and FTS-100 (FTS:Managing People)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
FRE-102 French II 19 2020/SP, 2019/SP, 2018/SP, 2017/SP, 2016/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/SP, 2003/SP, 2002/FA, 2001/FA, and 2000/SP
FRE-101 French I 19 2014/FA, 2011/FA, 2011/SP, 2010/FA, 2009/FA, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/SP, 2005/SP, and 2004/SP
FRE-201 Intermediate French I 17 2019/FA, 2018/FA, 2017/FA, 2016/FA, 2015/FA, 2010/SP, 2008/FA, 2007/SP, 2005/FA, 2004/FA, 2004/SP, 2003/FA, 2002/SP, 2001/SP, 2000/FA, and 1999/FA
FRE-252 Composition and Conversation II 13 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, 2010/SP, 2006/SP, 2005/SP, 2003/SP, 2002/SP, 2001/FA, 2001/SP, 2000/SP, and 1999/FA
FRE-099 French Portfolio 9 2020/SP, 2019/FA, 2019/SP, 2018/SP, 2017/FA, 2017/SP, 2016/FA, 2016/SP, and 2015/FA
FRE-364 Francophone African/Caribbean Literatures and Cultures 6 2017/FA, 2015/FA, 2011/FA, 2007/FA, 2003/FA, and 1999/FA
FRE-351 Commercial French 6 2015/SP, 2012/FA, 2008/FA, 2004/FA, 2002/FA, and 2000/FA
NDL-111 Introduction to Public Administration 6 2011/JN, 2010/JN, 2005/JN, 2004/JN, 2003/JN, and 2000/JN
FTS-100 First Term Seminar 6 2005/FA, 2004/FA, 2003/FA, 2002/FA, 2001/FA, and 2000/FA
AFS-190 Intro. to Africa 5 2019/FA, 2018/FA, 2017/FA, 2016/FA, and 2014/FA
FRE-202 Intermediate French II 4 2020/SP, 2015/SP, 2008/FA, and 2003/SP
FRE-365 Recent French History 3 2016/SP, 2013/SP, and 2009/SP
FRE-251 Composition and Conversation I 3 2015/FA, 2012/FA, and 2002/SP
GWS-264 African Women 3 2014/SP, 2012/SP, and 2008/SP
IDS-260 African Cinema 2 2017/SP and 2013/SP
CUR-250 Literary Experience 2 2014/SP and 2012/SP
NDL-131 African Trickster 2 2013/JN and 2012/JN
AFS-115 African Trickster 1 2020/JN
FRE-367 North Africa 1 2018/FA
FRE-344 ST:Immigration 1 2016/FA
IDS-190 Intro. to Africa 1 2012/FA
FRE-361 French Prose 1 2010/FA
MLC-244 Special Topic: African Cinema 1 2009/FA
MLC-109 Caribbean Culture 1 2006/JN
NDL-268 Career Exploration 1 2005/JN
FRE-362 French Drama 1 2001/SP
MFL-268 Career Exploration 1 2000/JN
Courses prior to Spring semester 1999 are not displayed.