Folklore coursework provides an opportunity for students in a wide range of fields to explore vernacular communicative resources and vernacular expression in art, religion, and politics (the latter a particular strength of our folklore faculty). Folklore’s ethnographic grounding allows students interested in globalization, cultural change, and democratization to understand these processes from the perspective of local actors. Tracing the emergence of vernacular cultural forms, their movements through informal channels, and their adaptations across time and space, folklore provides an important complement to the study of formal institutions. A secondary specialization in folklore is a valuable credential for jobseekers both inside academia and in nonprofit and public institutions.
Ohio State’s folklore program is interdepartmental, coordinated by the Center for Folklore Studies (CFS). It is possible to do the equivalent of a full MA or PhD in Folklore through the Department of English or the Department of Comparative Studies, but many folklore students are based in other departments, especially in humanities and arts. Students in any department in the university may receive a formal credential in folklore with the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization (GIS), offering a compact but rigorous preparation. They are also welcome to take single folklore courses: our courses sometimes draw students from as many as a dozen departments. In general, then, faculty do not expect students to have prior experience of the discipline, though students may want to talk to the professor in advance to ensure that the course is the most appropriate to their needs.
The graduate folklore curriculum provides both focus and flexibility for students, balancing core courses with electives and facilitating overlap with departmental curricula wherever possible. It is divided into Tools, Theory, and Topics courses.
Folklore students have numerous opportunities for engagement with faculty and visiting scholars through CFS and through the American Folklore Society, located on the OSU campus. Our students run the Folklore Student Association, which offers both professional experience and intellectual community, co-organizing an annual national conference with the Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Associations of Indiana University.
Folklore coursework helps our students get jobs! Our former students teach in university programs ranging from elementary education to political science, including, of course, folklore. Folklorists also work in a wide variety of nonprofit and public employment, ranging from arts agencies to public health to the U.S. Department of State.
Prospective students are invited to contact Graduate Studies Director Katherine Borland (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss their academic interests.