Special Themes in Folklore: Folklore and the Popular and Political Imagination
Folklore has played an important role in all areas of modern and contemporary American life, including social movements, such as the civil rights, women’s rights, and disability rights movements, #BlackLivesMatter, and #MeToo. Not only has folklore been an integral part of communities united by these movements, but has also influenced the responses to each of them. Similarly, folklore has been key in attitudes and political responses to issues such as climate change, anti vaxxers, and immigration, and to events, such as 9ll, and police shootings. This course will explore relationships between various forms of folklore; for example, myths, folktales, and rituals, and ways in which Americans imagine themselves and others, and ultimately, how imagination influences attitudes and actions in the social sphere. Readings will include, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow; Jeff Nesbit, This is The Way the World Ends; Lorie Perkins, et. al., #MeToo; Patricia Turner’s, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, and John Storey’s Inventing Popular Culture: From Folklore to Globalization. Assignments will include two research projects.