ANT 325K • Intro to Folklore & Folklife-W
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
We use the word "folklore" in two senses: first as a kind of subject matter--traditional, stylized, artful human products like games, proverbs, nicknames, pranks, jokes, and so forth that people employ in the course of habitual social interaction and that they've learned from family, friends, workmates rather than from "the media"--and second as the discipline which studies that sort of subject matter, a discipline with a range of widely shared concepts and practices at its command. E 325K introduces you to folklore in both senses but principally to folklore in the second sense: the body of the course is organized according to types of questions folklorists, as observers and analysts, have asked about folklore-as-subject-matter. Their ways of answering these questions have been diverse but can be interrelated within a framework of the discipline's evolution. In our examination of this evolution, we adopt the case-study method. We look in depth at particular examples of folklore investigations--19th century Russian fairytales, a 20th century Newfoundland folksong, modern day American teenage horror stories, among others--that sought to discover something about the materials' history, or about their underlying form, about their covert meanings, about their effectiveness as strategic "performances" in interpersonal socializing. The chosen case studies are representative of the whole study-of-folklore over the last hundred years or so.