Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions

Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions

Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions

Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions

Excerpt

We study folklore because we are interested in the ways that people decorate their yards or use recycled items to create art, in how they use charms to foretell the sex of unborn children, in the cures they create for colds and hangovers, in rumors about government conspiracies circulated through e-mail, in family recipes, in stories about el chupacabra or cry baby bridges—and much more. For us, folklore is a way of understanding people and the wide range of creative ways we express who we are and what we value and believe.

We wrote this book to share our enthusiasm for folklore. We want to give you a sense of the liveliness and immediacy of folklore in our everyday lives as well as at times of celebration and ceremony.

Folklore covers so much territory that we couldn’t possibly be specific about every kind of folklore or every type of analysis. We do, however, try to present an overview of most issues and approaches in the field, supported with many different types of examples to give a taste of the wide variety of topics folklorists study. As American folklorists who teach in American universities, we rely primarily on examples drawn from the United States—in all its diversity and complexity. We consider diverse groups from multiple cultures—from groups connected by ethnicity, region, age, gender, and occupation to smaller groups such as families, friends, classmates, and coworkers. The breadth of American culture and cultural experience allows us to talk about such activities as midwestern Thanksgiving traditions, Latina quinceañeras, African American fraternity and sorority step shows, and Apache coming-of-age rituals. Our focus on groups includes discussion of Star Trek fans, Boy Scouts, suburban adolescents, slumber party guests, record store . . .

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