This course focuses on how all of us construct notions of difference--racial, ethnic, gender, sexuality, class and nation--through folklore. By examining how a wide range of genres are used in both enforcing social boundaries and hierarchies and challenging the official discourse and institutions that attempt to shape us, the study of folklore forms and analytic approaches provide tools for understanding our world and attempting to transform it. The course project turns each student into a contributor in the field of folklore by collecting traditional knowledge from his/her milieu.
You are required to enroll in a discussion section, but attendance will not be mandatory. These are optional sessions in which graduate students help class members decide which types of folklore (jokes, proverbs, riddles, songs, rituals, games, cyberlore, medical folklore, etc.) to collect, whom to interview, and how to analyze and write-up the materials. Sections can help familiarize students with the Folklore Archive, in which more than half a million examples are available. The GSIs can also discuss the readings and how to use them in analyzing their collections.