Bloody Mary in the Mirror: Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics

Bloody Mary in the Mirror: Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics

Bloody Mary in the Mirror: Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics

Bloody Mary in the Mirror: Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics

Excerpt

Folkloristics is the study of folklore, much as linguistics is the study of language. The discipline of folkloristics may be said to have begun with the writings of Herder, who coined the term [Volkslied] [folksong] in 1773, and the celebrated publications of the brothers Grimm, whose famous two volumes of folktales, Kinder-und Hausmärchen, were published in 1812 and 1815 respectively. (For a better sense of the history of folklore scholarship, see Cocchiara 1981 and Dundes 1999.)

Of course, there were individuals before Herder who were fascinated by myths, folktales, legends, folksongs, proverbs, riddles, curses, charms, superstitions, and children's games, among many other folklore genres, but it is safe to say that folkloristics as a serious academic discipline became established in Europe only in the nineteenth century. The first true professorship in folkloristics was occupied by Norwegian folklorist Moltke Moe at the University of Oslo in 1886. The prestigious international folklore monograph series, the Folklore Fellows Communications, began publication in 1907. The first doctorate in folklore in the United States was awarded in 1953 by Indiana University to Warren Roberts, whose dissertation was a comprehensive comparative study of some nine hundred versions of the fairy tale of the Kind and Unkind Girls, Aarne/Thompson tale type 480 (Roberts 1994). From these few details, one can see that though the subject matter of folklore is presumably as old as mankind itself, the formal study of folklore as such has existed for just two centuries.

There are folklorists all over the world who work mostly within national or regional parameters. They assiduously collect local traditions from talented informants, resulting in hundreds of published volumes of folktales or customs and the like. Within the ranks of these folklorists is a small handful who are internationally minded. Inasmuch as folklore . . .

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