This course serves as an introduction to folklore studies with a special focus on its intersection with social and cultural theory. The word "folklore" usually refers to traditional expressive practices, ranging from verbal arts (such as proverbs and legends) to material culture (such as costumes and handicrafts) to customs (such as rituals and festivals). But as this class demonstrates, the study of folklore has changed over the years. We now recognize that all communities, not just traditional ones, have folklore. Similarly, we now understand folklore to be an ever-evolving phenomenon that responds to its time of creation and speaks to the future. Alongside conceptual frameworks, this class also introduces students to the ethnography of folklore performances; that is, it asks them to practice methods of studying both special events and everyday expressions of self. Key ideas in this class include community, identity, tradition, worldview, and power. It will examine four general approaches to folklore studies: a focus on genres, groups, performances, and critical perspectives. It introduces students to various theories of interpreting folklore and encourages them to understand it as a form of artistic communication that serves significant political and ethical purposes.
- Teacher: Stephen Olbrys Gencarella