This book applies the methods and theories of cognitive psychology to the study of oral traditions. Rubin elaborates on three structural devices that appear in oral traditions: those consisting of meaning, those using imagery, and those in which sound pattern is predominant. Next, the way in which these and other constraints fit together is examined. The processes of transmission and recall are then considered. Three genres are considered as different applications of
the principles outlined in the book. For two of these - counting-out rhymes and ballads - original studies are reported. For the third - epic - new analyses of existing data are reported.