I ask DR. BRUNVAND, ďThe textbook that weíre using in our class, The Study of American Folklore, is probably the most widely used textbook, certainly for folklore, that Iíve been able to find when I talked to other folklore instructors.† Itís sort of what theyíre using.Ē
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND responds:† ďWell I'm pleased with it. I tell how I started that. †Well, first, remember the book is organized by categories, or genres of folklore. †I mentioned Dorsonís book, which is organized in terms of American history and American development. †So it went from colonial to native folk humor and Negro slavery, and I forgot, folk heroes, modern folklore, regional folklore, immigrant folklore, and so on.† Itís more culturally or regionally or topically organized where as mine Ėď
Roesch interrupts, ďOral customary material.Ē
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† ďWell, Dorson didnít do anything with -- you mean mine?Ē
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† ďYeah, Dorson didnít do anything with customary material to speak of, but I decided to do it by genres of folklore after just three chapters on general things.† The oral categories:† being things like folk speech proverbs, riddles, rhymes, legends, tales, myths, and so on. †You know the customary: †starting with superstitions and customs and gestures and so on.† And then, material culture, which was a fairly new aspect of folklore study in 1968 when I wrote that. †Now, I donít know everything about all of this, for example, music, Iím not trained in or donít -- I donít read music.† I'm not, you know, musically adept at all. †I know how to run my CD player but -- and I know it -- I know something about music but Iím not able to write that without doing
same thing with dance. †And so I tried
very hard to rely on the authorities or rely on the experts and to bring as
much in it as I could from the numerous publications.† And the big job in doing a textbook is the bibliography.
†Once you get that for each chapter, then
you just have to select some examples and so on. †The actual background of the book -- goes back
to Dorson again.†
I think my whole life rotates around this man, who I just so luckily
took in the classroom when I was an undergraduate.† When I was a graduate student in
†Well, although Iím sure his motive went deeper
than that.† So I outlined it and I wrote
the chapter on proverbs.† First draft,
the chapter on proverbs, because I had that lecture.† And by the time they had reviewed it and sent
it to me, I was at Southern Illinois at Edwardsville where I stayed for one
year, and I get a letter from them saying weíd like to publish it and hereís
the contract, and we can talk about how long it will take you to write it and
so on.† And I was really
flabbergasted.† I said, what am I going to do when I get to music and dance, or how will I
-- one of the ideas I got was to have sample studies at the end and I got Henry
Glassie to write that classic essay on the Southern
mountain log cabins.† And he was just
getting to be known in folklore.† Heís
now just a really big name in folk art.†
We dropped those in the latest editions but they were there for a long
time.† And I took the contract to the
chair of my department and said, is there anything I should know that I donít
know?† And he said, well, you ought to
ask him for a little more -- a little higher percentage on the sales, a little
bigger advance and there were couple other points.† And I say, can I -- Iím not that
well-known.† I mean, can I really be -- well,
you can always ask.† And they agreed to everything.† Well, I did most it, of the writing and later,
I had to do some revising.† But most of the original writing (happened) in the basement of the
house we were renting in
With the subject matter chapters, they can bring in their own examples and just ask if the students had questions or responses and then bring in their own examples of a legends or proverbs or superstitions.† But they were kind of stock with these essays.† So we decided to put these examples Of -- I think it was three per chapter isn't it?
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† ď-- examples and study questions.† And what those are, are the things Iíve been using in class for years.Ē
Roesch:† I see, yeah.
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† ďThose are my examples, but they are the sort of things that any good folklore teacher can compile from some of his or her own experiences or studentís collections or things you clip.† I find so much in the media that I clip out, advice columns I read religiously and comic strips and interviews and so on.† So I didnít have any trouble coming up with these -- what do they call it?† You call them focus boxes.
Roesch:† Focus box.
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† And then the little study questions, and it was really fun to work those up. †"Get your docks in a row", what does that come from? or "it ainít over until the fat lady sings" and how thatís been used.† I love using the gestures, because I have so many nice pictures clipped from the media of famous people, particularly presidents doing -- Nixon with his famous triple V sign and Reagan making a little circle with his finger in shaking, the way of doing this--
Roesch:† Oh yeah.
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† Iím just fine looking out on the hospital window.† And so on. †So we did change the book somewhat in that way.
Roesch: ††ďAnd I think those are good changes.† Iíve been using the book since your 3rd edition for a short time with the appendixes and now, the 4th edition, and I think thatís -- thereís been some good changes.Ē
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† Well, I like them --
Roesch:† The new photographs --
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† I liked them, but the last folklore meeting where I spoke was about a month ago. †And the man introducing me said something about how the textbook had been so useful to him and then he turned, looked at me, and said, but I like the 3rd edition better.† And the paper I was giving there had to do with nostalgia in relation to an item of folk art I was discussing. †So I just look back at him said, well, youíre just overly nostalgic about it.† Have to change your attitude.† But itís been very interesting.† Thereís a book of readings that goes with it that has declined in sales, people didnít pick it up quite as quickly as they did the textbook and perhaps I should redo that.† Thereís, of course, a lot of new stuff published every year in folklore and papers and meetings and so on. ††There are other textbooks, but I think mine has succeeded with undergraduate and introductory courses, because -- itís -- well, for one thing, teachers can teach it any order they want.† They donít have to start with chapter 1 and work their way through.† And the examples are a sort of student tested for decades in my classes Ė If something doesnít work, I change it or drop it and try something else.
Roesch:† It also has an excellent bibliography as you go on.
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† Boy, that was a struggle to get all that together.
Roesch:† And an excellent index.
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† Yeah, I didnít, I canít take responsibilities for that.
Roesch:† Somebody did that?
DR. JAN HAROLD BRUNVAND:† Yeah, I tried to index a book once and decided it was -- you know they deduct it from your royalties if theyíre paying someone to index it and I decided it was worth it to have it done right.