Introduction to Folklore Genres

Section 01
Virginia Muller
Course Description

(Cross-listed with ANTHRO 1150)

Folklore is a term that we use to refer to the unofficial and informal aspects of culture, aspects that each of us performs every day of our lives. This is a course that will teach you the difference between a folk tale and a fairy tale, why Mythbusters is a joke name, the importance of that one recipe in your family that is a closely guarded secret, and how you learned to act at the dining room table. This course will teach the basics and fundamentals of folklore as an academic discipline. This course will also teach you what folklore is in terms of its subject interests. Folklore refers to a definable thing (a vast number of things, actually) but it also describes a tool for looking at the world and understanding the ways in which it works.

We are here to introduce you to folklore genres and folklore as a discipline. We will cover the major genres and categories of folklore first. After which, we will take the tools you have learned about to talk about how folklore is used in Lee Smith’s Oral History. This course is designed to introduce you to the basic theoretical and methodological practices of folklore as well as the particulars of folklore study within specific contexts. By the end of this semester, you should be able to tell your family and friends what folklore is and show them good examples, without having to look far at all.