Academic journal article Western Folklore

In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies

Academic journal article Western Folklore

In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies

Article excerpt

In Search ofAuthenticity The Formation of FolkloreStudies. By Regina Bendix. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997. Pp. xi + 306, notes, bibliography, index. $55.00 cloth, $24.95 paper)

"This book makes no claim to chronicle or theorize authenticity in its entirety," Regina Bendix tells us in the introduction to In Search of Authenticity. Rather, it "draw(s] together a variety of texts'... that allow me to map ways in which authenticity... was used in various stages of disciplinary formation" (21). The book is organized along two axes. First, it is divided into three parts, each representing a separate moment in the history of folklore studies; and second, within each part there is a comparison between developments in Germany and the United States.

Part 1, "Ibe Instrumentalization of Authenticity," surveys the Enlightenment and romantic origins of the search for authentic folklife and the "instrumentalization" of that search in various forms of scholarship. Bendix offers no unified definition of authenticity but treats it generally in terms of the passage from a religious to a secular worldview and the accompanying search for an ultimate locus of reality in the self. She is particularly concerned with the tension between "the exuberant, highly emotional vocabulary of authenticity employed by the Romantics" and "the effort to render authenticity as a scientifically verifiable entity, a preoccupation of scholars in the early nineteenth century" (46). This leads to a discussion of scholarly practices of authentification, which entails a survey of competing theories concerning genres (which genres best embody authenticity?), origins (is folklore an anonymous or individual creation?), and translation (the re-presentation of folklore in authoritative, scholarly editions). Part 11, '"he Role of Authenticity in Shaping Folkloristic Theory, Application, and Institutionalization," surveys various programmatic statements about the objects and methods of folklore studies in Germany and the United States. Here Bendix is particularly concerned to contrast the intertwining of folklore studies and anthropology on the American scene to their separation in Germany. She also points out that German folklore scholars in the academy cultivated closer relationships with amateur folklore societies than did their American counterparts. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.