Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World

Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World

Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World

Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World

Excerpt

In his essay “Toward a Definition of Folklore in Context,” Dan BenAmos asserts: “If the initial assumption of folklore research is based on the disappearance of its subject matter, there is no way to prevent the science from following the same road” (1971, 14). In similar fashion, Alan Dundes began his presidential plenary address to the American Folklore Society in 2004 with a grim outlook on the future of the discipline by contending that the “state of folkloristics at the beginning of the twenty-first century is depressingly worrisome” (2005, 385). Such alarm-sounding statements merit our attention, but the fact remains that this has been a recurring assertion within this academic discipline for some time (Oring 1998). Richard Dorson lamented in 1972 that in “a few more years, there will be no more folklore, and ergo, no need for any folklorists” (41); but as Dorson “responded by looking elsewhere and [subsequently] found folklore in the media and a folk in the city” (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998, 302), we too must respond by looking elsewhere when such feelings of impending doom surface in folklore scholarship.

Folklore is a self-conscious discipline, and speculation on the future of folkloristics—the academic study of folklore—has been pessimistic at best. In a similar vein, Richard Bauman and Charles L. Briggs note that tradition “has been reportedly on the verge of dying for more than three centuries, [yet] … continues to provide useful means of producing and legitimizing new modernist projects, sets of legislators, and schemes of social inequality” (Bauman and Briggs 2003, 306). Despite all of the . . .

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