Folklore Courses Spring 2024

Featured Courses

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FOLKLORE 100 - Introduction to Folklore

(3 credits)

  • LECTURE: TR 3:30 – 4:20 PM
  • SEC 301: W 8:50 – 9:40 AM
  • SEC 302: W 3:30 – 4:20 PM 
  • SEC 303: R 8:50 – 9:40 AM
  • SEC 304: R 9:55 – 10:45 AM
  • SEC 305: F 8:50 – 9:40 AM
  • SEC 306: F 3:30 – 4:20 PM
  • SEC 307: W 2:25 – 3:15 PM
  • SEC 308: F 9:55 – 10:45 AM
  • SEC 309: M 4:35 – 5:25 PM  
  • SEC 310: T 7:45 – 8:35 AM 

Instructor: Lowell Brower

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.

[NON-GNS] FOLKLORE 102 - Introduction to Comparative US Ethnic and American Indian Studies

Instructor: Theresa Delgadillo 

[NON-GNS] FOLKLORE 103 - Introduction to Music Cultures of the World

Instructor: Nadia Chana 

[NON-GNS] FOLKLORE 210 - The African Storyteller

FOLKLORE 215 - Topics: Horror: Expressions of National Angst

(3 credits)

MW 4:00 – 5:15 PM

Instructor: Scott Mellor

Course Description: Horror has been a popular genre of storytelling since time immemorial. The horror expressed in story is often representative of fear and anxiety, sometimes personal, other times more representative of our communities. Through the oral tradition, we tell ghost stories, abduction stories and more to express the angst we feel the world around us. Since the advent of the novel, those fears have found their way into our literature and more recently our movies, television shows and more. This course will look at representations of social angst as they express themselves in horror stories, mostly in a European and North American context. In this class is will look social issues expressed in horror. Students will have an opportunity to express their opinions about the social issues expressed in the horror movies, synthesize, and relate them to their experiences outside the classroom through class discussion and weekly written discussions.

Prerequisites: Open to first-year students.

FOLKLORE 315 - The Folklore of Emergency

(3 credits)

MW 2:30 – 3:45 PM 

Instructor: Lowell Brower 

Course Description: This course tracks the maneuvers of folklore and expressive culture through crises, conflict zones, and emergency situations. By examining the creative interventions of storytellers, performers, and artists in response to a wide range of profound ruptures and transformations—from political upheaval, to genocidal violence, to forced migration, to social revolution, to ecological disaster, to everyday rites of passage—the course illuminates and interrogates the powers, potentials, politics, and poetics of cultural performance, communal storytelling, ritual praxis, and folkloric “tradition,” in the face of destabilizing change and unprecedented emergencies. We’ll ask how storytellers revive and revise old stories to confront new challenges, how preexisting expressive forms weather unprecedented socio-cultural storms, how individuals and communities attempt to re-narrate themselves after calamity. What role can storytelling play in “imagining communities,” in navigating “rites of passage,” and in confronting existential and ethical dilemmas? How do folks turn their afflictions into art, how do they make sense of their sufferings, how to they treat their traumas, and transform their tribulations? What roles can folklore play in reimagining communities, in rehabilitating selves, in remaking worlds?

Beginning with a critical re-examination of popular discourses of “crisis” and “emergency,” we will explore the potentials and limitations of these categories as they relate to everyday life and intersubjective exchange in places as diverse as the refugee camps of Rwanda, the bayous of Louisiana, the pubs of Ireland, the alleyways of Cairo, and the message boards of 4-Chan. Along with troubling the lines between the everyday and the emergency, ala Walter Benjamin, we will also investigate Heidegger’s distinction between artistic performances that rescue us from the emergency and those that rescue us into the emergency. Through critical engagement with a diverse array of texts, artistic creations, and cultural practices, and folkloric performances, this course calls attention to the ways in which scholarly production, humanitarian intervention, political activism, and artistic performance are implicated and imbricated in “the production of crisis,” for better and for worse. In treating crisis as both experiential reality for those who live through it, and as what Janet Roitman calls a “narrative construction,” the course ultimately seeks to interrogate its own premise, illuminating the ways in which the invocation of emergency itself might be considered a form of artistic, imaginative, and transformative intervention. Course work will include close readings of expressive texts, analytic and creative projects, class excursions, and a social engagement option.

[NON-GNS] FOLKLORE 319 - Afro Asian Improv: From Hip Hop to Martial Arts Fusion

FOLKLORE 327 - The Vampire in Literature and Film

(3 credits) 

MW 1:20 – 2:10 PM 

Instructor: Thomas DuBois 

Course Description: Explores the development of the vampire legend in folklore, rumor, literature, cinema, television, and popular culture and in relation to topics such as colonization, race, gender, sexuality, and class.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

(Course designation: Credits: 3. Breadth – Literature. Level – Intermediate. L&S credit – Yes.)

FOLKLORE 345 - The Nordic Storyteller

(3 credits)

TR 1:00 – 2:15 PM 

Instructor: Scott Mellor 

Course Description: Telling stories is as old as time. Folk storytelling, which originate in the distant past, has often been scorned by the literary establishment, but the fact that they survived through centuries of oral transmission until they were finally recorded in the fairly recent past testifies to their lasting existential appeal. The stories these texts tell are dashingly entertaining and often deeply disturbing: they may offer a profoundly fatalistic view of existence, but they may also voice an angry and, at the same time, humorous protest against oppression. When this narrative type was discovered by scholars and the societal elite about 1800, it inspired many first-rank Nordic authors, e.g., Hans Christian Andersen, Henrik Ibsen, Selma Lagerlöf; and in the 20th century it has cast its spell over Isak Dinesen, Villy Sørensen, and Pär Lagerkvist and its influence has moved from literary to other media today. The course examines both the original folktales, its modern “imitations” and literature as well as gives an introduction to the critical methodologies that have recently been developed to deal with this seemingly simple, but in reality, highly sophisticated, narrative.

Prerequisites: Sophomore or higher

FOLKLORE 415 - Language-Focused Methods in Qualitative Research

(3 credits) 

TR 2:30 – 3:45 PM 

Instructor: Leonie Schulte 

Course Description: This methods course combines theoretical and methodological insights from sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and ethnography to attend to the various ways in which we, as qualitative researchers, work with language. Students will be exposed to excerpts from specific languages and in specific scripts and engage in exercises that involve handling the exposure to a linguistic event in ways that produce meaning for qualitative research. We will cover themes and methods including conducting and audio-recording qualitative interviews, working with fluid/multilingual discourse, transcribing interviews, the politics of translation and the representation of different voices, as well as thinking about writing, style and genre in qualitative texts.

FOLKLORE 430 - African American Folklife

(3 credits)

MW 8:00 – 9:15 AM 

Instructor: Langston Collin Wilkins

Course Description: This course examines post-civil rights era 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 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.

FOLKLORE 443 - Sami Culture, Yesterday and Today

(4 credits)

TR 4:00 – 5:15 PM 

Instructor: Thomas DuBois 

Course Description: Interdisciplinary study of Sami (Lapp) people of Scandinavia past and present. Indigenous modes of expression and worldview, contemporary cultural and political activism. Extensive discussion of connections to Native American and Inuit experiences; rise of U.S. and other indigenous peoples’ movements.

Prerequisites: Junior Standing

(Breadth: Humanities or Social Science. L&S credit type: counts as LAS credit (L&S). General education: ethnic studies.)

[NON-GNS] FOLKLORE 915 - Seminar in Ethnomusicology

Instructor: Nadia Chana