Folklore Courses Fall 2022

  • FOLKLORE 100 - Introduction to Folklore

    (3 Credits)

    TR 2:25 – 3:15 pm w/discussion sections

    Course Description: This course serves as an introduction to folklore; that is, the arts, beliefs, stories, sayings, customs, and ways of communication we engage with in our everyday lives. We’ll be examining a variety of folklore genres, while also learning about and employing the methods and practices of folklore scholars. Because this is a practical as well as theoretical course, we will be conducting fieldwork in the region as part of a semester-long folklore project. By the end of the term, you will be able to better understand what folklore is, how and why it functions, and the many and often hidden ways that it is a part of our everyday lives. You’ll learn about ethnographic methods and techniques and how to use interviews, photography, and videography to document various genres of folklore. You’ll better understand what culture is, how it affects our everyday lives, and how it is transmitted, changed, created and re-created, lost, found, and reclaimed.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • FOLKLORE 103 - Introduction to Music Cultures of the World

    (3 Credits)

    MW 9:55 – 10:45 am w/discussion sections         Instructor: Lucille Mok

    Course Description: This course is both about music from around the world and the many different ways people think about this music. Together we will ask: what do we mean by “music”? What do we mean by “culture”? And what do we mean by “the world”? We will focus primarily on Indigenous musics in North America, Irish traditional music, and South Asian Music. Topics include dance, identity, music and social movements, music and ecological crisis, the role of music in public spaces, music as labor, and practices of transmission.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • FOLKLORE 210 - African Storyteller

    (3 Credits)

    ONLINE

    Course Description: This online course provides students with a new and critical perspective on a popular UW-Madison course. Originally developed by Harold E. Scheub, “The African Storyteller” introduces students to both the oral and written traditions of African literature. The first half of the semester focuses on oral stories, and theories for interpreting them, while the second half focuses on famous 20th-century novels, by writers including Chinua Achebe, Ferdinand Oyono, Alex La Guma, and Nawal El Saadawi.

    All coursework is online. There are no meetings or official office hours. Students read stories and introductory hypertext, watch lectures featuring Harold Schueb, complete quizzes, participate in discussion forums, and compose weekly practice essays. Coursework is synchronous, meaning that, while there is a great deal of flexibility, students must meet weekly deadlines. Major assessments include a midterm essay and a final research essay.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • FOLKLORE 211 - Global Language Issues

    (3 Credits)

    MW 9:55 – 10:45 am w/discussion sections

    Course Description: Focuses on language and its culture, example topics include: extinction and revival, language and nationhood, how widely and deeply languages differ, language and worldview, writing systems and literacy, language discrimination and inequality.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • FOLKLORE 342 - Nordic Mythology

    (3 Credits)

    TR 1:00 pm – 2:15pm          Instructor: Scott Mellor

    Course Description: Nordic Mythology, Scandinavian/Folklore/Medieval/Religious Studies/Literature in Translation 342 will give students an introduction to Medieval Nordic Mythology and put it in a European context. The course will use literary works written by Christians; the Kalevala, the mythological and heroic poetry of the Edda and a few of the Icelandic legendary sagas, as well as a few early Christian texts; and look at the material culture that help us understand this volatile time.

    Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

  • FOLKLORE 352 - Shamanism

    (3 Credits)

    TR 4:00 – 5:15 pm          Instructor: Thomas A. DuBois

    Course Description: For thousands of years, Indigenous communities in various parts of the world have developed religious practices that allow a skilled practitioner to engage with otherwise invisible spirits in order to provide services to their surrounding human communities, particularly in connection with situations of illness, social conflict, or misfortune. Through rituals that promote trance states, practitioners seek to find answers to their clients’ questions and to negotiate outcomes that will benefit their clients and communities. In the devastating era of colonialism, such religious practitioners became targets of both missionaries and colonial administrators, who sought to replace Indigenous traditions and leaders with ones more compliant to colonial authorities. This. course examines these shamanic traditions cross-culturally, with particular attention to the colonial experiences of Native American communities past, present, and future.

    Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

  • FOLKLORE 430 - Urban African American Folklife

    (3 Credits)

    MW 4:00 -5:15 pm          Instructor: Langston Collin Wilkins

    Course Description: This course examines post-civil rights era urban African American folklife from across the United States. Each week, we will explore spaces and places of African American folk production, focusing on multiple genres of expression. Class discussions will interrogate the ways in which these selected folk practices build upon earlier forms, their complex relationships with each other, and their function within the communities of origin. We will also critically examine how these practices intersect with important societal phenomenon- namely issues of race, class, gender, power, and migration. The ultimate goal of this course is to use the lens of African American folklife to gain a better understanding of the dynamic and multi-faceted nature of contemporary African American life in general.

    Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

  • FOLKLORE 437 - American Indian Women

    (3 Credits)

    MWF 9:55 – 10:45 am          Instructor: Sasha Suarez

    Course Description: American Indian Women examines the cultural and political roles of Indigenous women in the United States and Canada. This course addresses historical legacies of Indigenous women’s roles in urban and reservation communities prior to and throughout colonization. It also addresses contemporary issues of great concern to Indigenous women including language revitalization, environmental justice, media representation, tribal sovereignty, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).

    Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

  • FOLKLORE 446 - Celtic-Scandinavian Cultural Interrelations

    (3 Credits)

    TR 2:30 – 3:45 pm          Instructor: Thomas A. DuBois

    Course Description: In a medieval Europe in which most written communication occurred in Latin, the Celtic areas of the British Isles (particularly Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), as well as the Norse-speaking societies of Iceland, Orkney, Shetland, and Scandinavia were distinctive in producing large bodies of vernacular literature. Stories of local saints, pre-Christian heroes, and momentous local feuds or battles became narrated in unique ways that reflected local values and cultures. This course examines the medieval vernacular literatures of the Celtic and Norse worlds from a comparative perspective, looking at the ways in which writers in the two areas thought about themselves and each other on the remote periphery of medieval Christendom and at the edge of what was then the “known world.”

     

    Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

  • FOLKLORE 451 - Supernatural in the Modern World

    (3 Credits)

    W 6:00-8:30 pm          Instructor: Lowell Brower

    Course Description: What do our ghost stories say about us, what do our beasts betray about us? Which witches bewitch us, which rumors consume us, and what sense can be made of what haunts us? Restless spirits, alien invaders, wicked witches, bloodthirsty vampires, legendary cryptids, murderous ogres, Illuminati satanists, deep-state conspirators, memetic online menaces: our contemporary bestiary is overflowing with meaningful monsters. Our spine-tingling intellectual task in this course will be to analyze the roles that these malevolent entities and the supernatural narratives we tell about them play in our everyday lives, our collective psyches, our communities, our politics, and in the crises we confront as individuals and groups. Are our occult stories allegories of our modern discontents, or simply holdovers from our childhood nightmares? Are they symptoms of specific societal crises, or representations of timeless pan-human fears? How has the witch hunt, the rumor panic, the “standardized nightmare of the group” transformed in this meme-ified age of online participatory culture, global interconnection, ecological catastrophe, and fake-news-driven conspiracy thinking? What can we learn about ourselves, our pasts, and our futures by thinking deeply about what scares us the most? And how frightened should we be of what we might find if we dig too deeply into that question?

    While trembling together in the creepiest classroom on campus, we will analyze “the supernatural” in relation to historical memories, cultural anxieties, folk traditions, spiritual beliefs, physiological sensations, political conflicts, environmental disasters, existential imperatives, and just about everything else under the moon. Because nowhere is safe from the things that go bump in the night, our interdisciplinary journey will take us across time and space into the bellies of various beasts, from the stacks of Memorial Library, to the hills of Rwanda, to the message boards of 4chan, to the proms of rural Pennsylvania, to the ships of the Middle Passage, to the villages of medieval Europe, to the halls of the White House, to your creepy neighbor’s basement, to the deep dark woods.

    Our abominable assignments will include creative reading responses, the documentation and analysis of frightful folklore, a fearsome final project, and a co-created creepy campus tour. Course activities may include local excursions, storytelling sessions, and paranormal experimentation. Enroll if you dare.

    Prerequisites: Junior standing.

  • FOLKLORE 522 - Digitally Documenting Everyday Communication

    (3 Credits)

    TR 1:00 – 2:15 pm          Instructor: Robert Howard

    Course Description: Teaches the use of digital recording technologies, archiving, and analysis of everyday communication and culture. Surveys scholarly approaches to everyday expressive communication.

    Prerequisites: Junior standing.