WHAT COMES UNDER FOLKLORE?
As you will learn in your first week's reading, there really is no
accepted agreement as to exactly what the boundaries of
folklore encompass. I tend to agree with the simple definition of
folklore offered by Archer Taylor: "Folklore is the material that is
handed on by tradition, either by word of mouth or by custom and
practice" (Brunvand 3). You might wish to look over how The
New York Folklore Society responds to the popular question: "What is
Folklore." As for our class, well, at times we will appear to stray
into anthropology, psychology, music, art or popular culture. Rather
than see this as a problem, I see it as simply traveling into the rich
borderlands of folklore. If you still feel a bit uneasy about exactly
one might include under folklore, you might want to visit The American
Folklore Society's answer to "What is Folklore?" Anyway, I shall
attempt to address
(through the Brunvand text, the homefun sheets, our bulletin board, via
e-mail, or by assigned web sites) at least the following topics during
the semester. Some topics will be only touched on, but others will be
covered in depth.
Jokes--Practical jokes, lawyer jokes, blonde jokes, sick jokes....
Local Legends--including Bigfoot, Lemurians...
Myths--creation stories, Native American...
Fairy tales--history, function, structure and significance
Proverbs--their use and abuse in politics and home
Folklore in literature--from Huck Finn to The Color Purple
Folklore in Movies--from Alien to Candyman
Blessings--serious and funny
Curses, cuss words, intensifiers, and insults
Riddles--function and types
Tongue-twisters and catch questions
Gestures--from saying hello to go to heck
Folk costumes--yes, you got one too
Campfire activities--scary stories, roasted marshmellows, and skits
Folk art--from gravestones to train graffito
Folk medicine--do you feed a cold or starve one?
Folk metaphors and similes--What's it mean to have "short hands and
Charms--from the verbal to the rabbit's foot
Lullabies, ballads and blues...
Superstitions--yes, you got these too
Names--where do they come from? Why do we name our cars, guns and boats?
Epitaphs--if you don't create yours, someone else will make up the lie
Rhymes--children's, game, memory...
Latrinalia--writing on bathroom walls
Autograph verse and Limericks
Festivals--local and otherwise
Customs--calendar customs, pregnancy, turning 21...
Ghostlore, UFO reports, and other strange happenings
Quilt designs and Xerox lore
AND JUST ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE WE HAVE TIME FOR!