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

research, 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 Indiana, Dorson would sometimes go away on a -- to conferences, on research trips or something.And if he was gone for just a few days, he would ask us, you know, he would tell one of his students to take his classes. He would tell you what you were to cover and give you some warning. So one time, he said, Yan, no, it was Jan.Iím sorry.He said, Jan, I have to be gone next week, Iíd like you take one of my classes and you took the class from Archer Taylor last summer, a visiting professor from Berkeley, on the proverb and the riddle so work up a class on proverbs. So I got out my notes in the class and I worked up a lecture and I had students participating, giving me examples that they knew and we talked about how they were applied to things and it went pretty well. Okay, time passes, I got my degree, Iím teaching my first job at the University of Idaho and a book representative comes into my office one day. He's from Norton.And I -- and they had the big anthologies, Norton Anthology of American Lit., British Lit., and World Lit., as well as a Composition Text, and Norton Critical Additions, and so on.And I said, well, donít waste a lot of time here, because I teach folklore and thereís no real textbook in folklore. Well, of course, his eyes lit up and ears perked up and he said, do we need one?I said I think we probably do. Sooner or later, someone's got to write a good textbook and sort of introductory textbook on the genres and the categories would be the way I would do it. And so, are you going to do it? ††And I said, oh, heck.Iím just in my first teaching job. Why donít you do it? I said, well, are you serious?Sure.I think you should outline the book and Iíll tell you who to send it to and so, well, of course, he gets commission if he discovers the book thatís published?

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 Alton, Illinois just across the river from St. Louis. (It was) really hot, really humid, and I just went to the basement, turned-up the air conditioner and pounded away on my typewriter.And as I said, the first edition came out in í68, by which time Iíd been at University of Utah for two years.What we tried to do in the latest edition -- one reason for the dropping the appendixes was teachers had taught them so many times, they wanted something new and different..

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.