ANT 325K • Intro to Folklore & Folklife-W
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
We use the word folklore in two senses: first, to identify a kind of subject matter?traditional, stylized, artful human products like games, proverbs, fairytales, nicknames, jokes, and so forth that people employ in the course of everyday socializing (especially people who live in small-scale communities or belong to tightly-knit groups) and that they've usually learned from other people rather than from institutional sources, like the media or the school curriculum, and second, to denote the field of study specializing in that kind of subject matter. In other words, just as linguistics is the study of language, and English is the study of (anglophone) literature, so folklore (sense #1) is the study of folklore (sense #2). The title of this course, Introduction to Folklore, refers to folklore in the second sense as much as in the first sense: it introduces you to ways in which folklorists have conceptualized, analyzed, and interpreted folklore materials over the last hundred years or so. Consequently, the main body of the course is organized according to what folklorists, in their studies, have tried to find out about their subject matter?or, put another way, the kinds of research questions they've asked and tried to answer (thus ?doing folklore? in sense #2) about the data of folklore (sense #1). Hence the (perhaps) slightly-unfamiliar section headings in the syllabus below: genetics (denoting questions about how folklore materials are born, how transmitted and changed over time, how related to similar-but-different materials, and so on); syntactics (questions about their consistent, recurring, traditional shapes, designs, forms, structures); semantics (folklore materials are human productions, socially shared: what messages are they communicating?); and pragmatics (questions about motives, reasons, purposes, effects: what do people hope to achieve by playing games, telling stories, and so on?)
Course packet available at Speedway Publishing, Dobie Mall. Also recommended is a writer's handbook, as a reference work for Standard Written English mechanics. Any one will do.