POSSIBLE PROJECT TOPICS :
The following topics are just a few that come to mind. Look through the
Brunvand text--especially the bibliographic section after each chapter.
Surf the Internet under "folklore." Examine a few copies of the Journal
American Folklore or The Journal of Popular Culture (at
Library). Attempt to find a topic you wish to learn more about, a topic
you are interested in, and perhaps a topic that will work for another
course as well. Don't worry about whether someone has already
on the topic--if the topic is really of interest to you, you will find
a way to communicate that interest to me. Note that your topic must be
pre-approved by me and your paper will be checked for plagiarism. The
specific topics below are only offered to help get your mind
thinking--you can select one of the topics listed, take the
opposite position of any topic listed, or simply create your own
controversial topic to work with. Once you select a possible topic, try
to write a tentative thesis that cleary states your topic, position,
and supporting claims--this will help you organize your paper.
topics with possible positions:
- Legends about a historical figure: "False Legends About
George Washington Were Important in Shaping American History" or "Good
Be Bad History--Why the Historical Truth is Important"
- Calendar Custom: "Celebrating Halloween by Costume or
Custom is Pagan and Un-Christian"
- Superstition: "COS College Athletes' Use of Sport
Neither Harmless or Logical" or: "The Use of Local Weather
Lore Can Help
Ensure a Successful Garden"
- Myths and Legends common to Mt Shasta: "Bigfoot--a Big
Hoax With Big Consequences" or "The Summit Lake Ghost Legend Functions
as a Teen Dating
- An in-depth look at a rite of passage: "Don't Lie to Your
Kid About the Tooth Fairy" or "The Baby Shower--More a Social Event
- Folk songs: "Folk Songs as Builders of Group Solidarity
Among US Soldiers in Vietnam" or "You Can Take the Country Out of
Proverbs, but You Can't Take the Proverbs out of Country Music"
- Calendar Custom: "Parents That Lie To
Their Children About The
Existence Of Santa Claus Are Teaching Kids That Deception is
Acceptable, That Truth is Age Related, and That the Motivation for Good
Behavior is the Hope of Future Presents"
- Folk Games: "Using 5 Common Folk
Games to Beat Childhood Obesity and Teach Social Skills"
- Gestures: "Let's Stop Handshaking--A once
worthy greeting gesture that is now sexist, germ-transferring, and
- Motifs: "Common Motifs in Creation Stories Support
Diffusion Rather Than Polygenesis"
- Folk Tales: "Fairy Tales--How They Help Set Up A Young Girl
For Failure" or "Fairy Tales--How a Partent Can Use the Good, Bad, and
Ugly As Teachable Moments"
- Superstition: "Water Witching--Anecdotal Evidence vs
- Jokes: "Medical Staff Humor--Offensive, Informative, and a
Necessary Release of Stress"
- Organizational lore: "College Administrators Should Use Campus
Folklore to Understand Student
Needs and Concerns"
- Cowboy Lore: "Like the miner and logger,
the cowboy has
become a significant part of American folklore. Cowboy sayings, poetry,
and songs all show the fascination our culture has for these
hard-working heroes of the West, and such folklore has much to say to
America today about the value of self-reliance, sense of duty, and hard
- Calendar Customs: "Calendar Customs like
Thanksgiving, and Christmas create significant pressure on the healthy
dieter to engage in overeating, increase their intake of sugars and
fats, and imbibe in too much alcohol. Here are three ways to engage
fully in the traditions of these calendar customs without putting on
pounds or alienating your friends and family."
- Rituals and Oral Lore: "American
Hunting Rituals and Oral Lore Help
Instill Conservationist Ideals, Safety Lessons, and Character Building
in Budding Hunters"
- An American writer's use of folklore: "Mark Twain's use of
Proverbs and Superstitions Enriched and Enlivened His Writings"
- American folk medicine: "Using Folk Medicine Saves Money
and Lives" or "Folk Medicine--Dangerous Fantasy"
- Calendar Custom: "Many of the Most
Popular Calendar Customs of
Christmas are Celebrated Around the World by People of Almost All
Religious Affiliations, and Recent Attempts to Claim the Entire Holiday
as Christian are Both Divisive and Ignorant of History"
- Latrinalia: "Bathroom Graffiti--What
Do Gender Differences in Latrinalia Tell Us?"
- Proverbs: "Fooled Again--How
Politicians Use Proverbs to Mislead or Misdirect"
"Cursing is a vital component of oral folklore
and when used correctly it facilitates understanding, adds emphasis,
and helps color mundane communication"
- Conspiracy theories: "Why We Should Be Skeptical of
Conspiracy Theories" or "Conspiricay Theories--What They Can Tell Us
About American Fears"
- Urban Legend: "Cow Tipping--A False Legend Common to Rural
America" or "Crop Circle Creation--What Happens When Science and Legend
- Folk Tales: "The Disneyfication of Folk
Tales Like Aladdin and His Magic Lamp and Cinderella
Most Often Weaken the Original Tale's Message and Sacrifice Historical
Value for Political Correctness."
- Calendar Custom: "Parents should allow
their children to fully participate in the customs of Halloween,
including dressing up, trick or treating, and carving of pumpkins. To
not do so would deny their children valuable social interaction, teach
them that one's actions are more important than intent, and be a missed
opportunity to make the calendar custom a real learning experience."
topics you can create positions for:
- Folk crafts of the Rainbow/Deadhead groups
- Quilt making
- Fishing Lore
- Occupational lore: logging lore, railroad lore, military lore...
- Black folk expressions
- Burial customs
- Fire walking
- Snake handling
- Jargon of the drug culture, hot rod culture...
- Children's games, songs, derogatory epithets
- Cinderella in the movies, in history, in 300 versions, in Asia...
- Cold weather comments
- Local ghost stories
- Mexican-American graffiti, train graffiti, bathroom graffiti,
- Folklore about Bikers--Harley lore, tales of rides and runs,
- The American cowboy in folklore
- American Indian games/riddles/medicine/basketry/myths/legends
- Wedding customs (could look at local Italian, Lao, African
- Etymology or use of dirty words
- Folk tales of a specific type or country
- Summer camp lore