E f325K • Introduction to Folklore and Folklife
2:30 PM-4:00 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, fairy tales, nicknames, jokes, and so forth that people employ in the course of everyday socializing and that they've usually learned from other people rather than from institutional sources, 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 #2) is the study of folklore (sense #1). 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. Hence the perhaps-slightly-unfamiliar section headings in the syllabus below: genetics (denoting questions about how folklore materials are born); syntactics (questions about their consistent, recurring, traditional shapes, designs, forms, structures); semantics (what messages are folklore materials communicating?); and pragmatics (what do people hope to achieve by playing games, telling stories, and so on?).
Please note that faithful class attendance is required. I take attendance first thing each day, and more than three absences for the semester will adversely affect your grade. And you cannot pass the course with more than five absences. You should also be a thorough, accurate taker of class notes, since there is no textbook of the conventional sort and the information on which you'll be examined is available only in lectures. Finally, you should also be a competent writer, since all tests and exams require essay answers that are grammatical, coherent, concrete, and convincing.
Two in-term tests 25% each
End-of-term final exam 50%
Course packet available at Speedway Publishing, Dobie Mall E 325K