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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Roger deVeer Renwick

Professor Emeritus Ph.D., 1974, University of Pennsylvania

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Biography

Professor Roger Renwick received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and has been teaching in the UT English Department since.  Recent publications include: co-editor of Ballad Mediations, 2006; ''The Servant Problem in Child Ballads,'' The Flowering Thorn: International Ballad Studies, 2003; ''The Oral Quality of a Printed Tradition,'' Acta Ethnographica Hungarica, 2002; Recentering Anglo/American Folksong: Sea Crabs and Wicked Youths, 2002.

Awards and Honors include: University Cooperative Society Subvention Grant, 2006 (for Ballad Mediations, 2006); University Cooperative Society Subvention Grant, 2001 (for Recentering Anglo/American Folksong, 2002); Dean’s Fellow, University of Texas, Fall 1999.

 

E 325K • Intro To Folklore & Folklife-W

34740 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 1100-1200 WAG 308
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E325K                      INTRODUCTION TO FOLKLORE               Spring 2010      

Instructor:  R. deV. Renwick                       Phone: 471-8775
Office:         PAR 317 E-mail:  renwick@mail.utexas.edu
Hours:         MWF 3:00-4:00 p.m.  

¤ DESCRIPTION: 

We use the word folklore in two senses.  First, to identify a kind of material:  traditional, stylized, artful human products like games, proverbs, fairytales, nicknames, jokes, and so forth that people employ(ed) in the course of everyday socializing (especially people who live[ed] in small-scale communities or belong[ed] 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.  Second, the same word folklore denotes the field of study specializing in that kind of material. In short, 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 as much in the second sense as in the first sense:  it introduces you to ways in which folklorists have conceptualized, analyzed, and interpreted folklore materials over the last 120 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).  This emphasis on folklore as a kind of intellectual practice explains 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—consciously or unconsciously—by playing games, telling stories, and so on, and how do they succeed—or fail—in their purpose?)

¤ REQUIREMENTS: 

Note that faithful class attendance is required. I take attendance first thing each class meeting, and more than three absences for the term 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 papers and exams require you to write essays that are grammatical, coherent, concrete, clear, and convincing.

¤ PAPERS, EXAMS, GRADES: 

This is a Substantial Writing Component course.  You’ll write three papers, all on assigned topics.  You’ll have one week in which to do each paper, which must be no fewer than 1,400 words long—between five and six pages, typed and double-spaced.  Each paper counts for 25% of your final grade and is evaluated not only for accuracy of content, for thoroughness in its treatment of the topic, and for the quality of understanding it exhibits, but also for its grammar, its coherency, its concreteness, and its clarity.  At semester’s end there’ll be a final, comprehensive examination, which will count for the remaining 25% of your course grade.  Please be realistic in your grade expectations: about half of you will probably get C’s (a measure of competence), about 40% B’s (a measure of superiority) and A’s (a measure of excellence), and about 10% D’s and F’s.  But the grades are not “curved”: your grade will reflect (1) your familiarity with and understanding of the course material and (2) how well you communicate that familiarity and understanding in written work.

¤ TEXTBOOK: 

The required textbook is a course packet available at Speedway Copying and Printing in Dobie Mall.  This course packet contains only raw data—songs, tales, riddles, and so forth (folklore in sense #1 above).  Do not treat it lightly, however, for this raw material is the raison d’être of the various concepts, theories, and analytical procedures the lectures emphasize (folklore in sense #2): read the material pertinent to each day’s lecture several times, matching it to the relevant analytical apparatus and bring your course packet to class each day.  You must also own a handbook for writers of expository English prose.

For more information, please download the full syllabus.

E 325L • Anglo-American Folk Song-W

34745 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm PAR 304
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E325L: ANGLO-AMERICAN FOLKSONG

    R. deV. Renwick
Spring 2010     PAR 317 (512-471-8775)
      TTh 3:00-4:00 p.m.
      renwick@mail.utexas.edu

¤ DESCRIPTION:

The word folksong, as used in this course, denotes a song (or, in the collective sense, a kind of song) commonly heard, learned, and sung by ordinary men, women, and children in the course of daily activities like work, play, ritual, or social interaction. In much of English-speaking Britain and North America, the informal, unpracticed, amateur singing of songs in the contexts of courting, child-rearing, performing household chores, making a living, celebrating convivial occasions, and other kinds of face-to-face communal activities was common up to the later years of the nineteenth century. By then, folksongs had begun to be superseded by professionally produced, packaged, and disseminated "pop" songs that were listened to avidly but seldom entered the repertoires of ordinary people for performance and participation on everyday occasions.

         Beginning in the later eighteenth century in Britain, in the early twentieth in the U.S. and Canada, folksong collectors as they were called visited the homes, worksites, and community meeting places—pubs, for example—of mostly laboring people (migrant workers in Aberdeenshire and Fermanagh, gypsies in Somerset, lumbermen in Ontario, subsistence farmers in North Carolina, cowboys in New Mexico) to record the songs they actually sung in daily life.  It is these collections of songs—made at first with paper and pencil, later with sound-recording machines—that constitute the data folksong scholars study today. Just like the song collectors, we too will be especially interested in a sub-set of Anglo-American folksongs, ballads, our name for songs that tell stories. We will look in depth at English-speaking Scottish, Irish, English, Canadian, and American ballads from oral tradition (another way of saying folksongs), examining them, not as music, but as social “literature” (i.e. as a generically stylized way of telling-a-story-in-sung-verse) and as social “behavior” (i.e. as meaningful, functional, shared discourse).

¤ REQUIREMENTS: 

Note that faithful class attendance is required. I take attendance first thing each class meeting; more than three absences for the term 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 much of the information on which you'll be examined is not in your course packet but available only in lectures.  Finally, you should also be a competent writer, since all papers and exams require you to write discourse that is grammatical, coherent, concrete, clear, and convincing.

         Writing requirements are as follows: (1) a 4-5 page prospectus for a research paper; (2) a first draft of the research paper itself, which should be at least 12 pages long and include a substantial bibliography of works consulted;  (3) a final version of your research paper that takes into consideration your instructor's comments on the content, grammar, and writing style of the first version.

         Instructions for researching and writing the paper will be handed out on the second class day. Note that there are several examples of student research papers in the course packet, p. 426 to the end; all were done for this very course, following the same instructions as those you will receive, and all are good models for your own paper.

         There will be a three-hour final exam at semester’s end.

¤ GRADES: 

Final exam 35%, papers 65%, with this qualification:  you must receive a passing grade (D or higher) both in the final exam and in the final version of your research paper in order to pass the course. 

         Please be realistic in your grade expectations: about half of you will probably get C’s (a measure of competence), about 40% B’s (a measure of superiority) and A’s (a measure of excellence), and about 10% D’s and F’s.  But the grades are not “curved”: your grade will reflect (1) your familiarity with and understanding of the course material and (2) how well you communicate that familiarity and understanding in written work.

¤ TEXTBOOKS: 

(1) Course packet, available at Speedway Copying and Printing, Dobie Mall basement (PLEASE BRING TO EVERY CLASS MEETING); (2) a handbook for writers of expository English prose.

For more information, please download the full syllabus.

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