Folklore is vernacular art, the culture that people make for themselves. The forms of folklore circulate from person to person and group to group, adapting to every change of context: they are both deeply traditional and new with every performance. Folklore is cherished by families or danced on the streets by unruly young people. It is despised as old-fashioned, banned as dangerous, preserved as precious heritage, mass-produced for tourists, and called on to legitimate both wars and social justice movements. Folklorists study the careers of these malleable collective forms across time and space.
A specialization in folklore will give you skills important to being a global citizen and also valued by a wide range of employers in health care, business, nonprofits, and academia (see Careers in Folklore for more detail) such as
- Field observation and ethnography: Learn how to size up an unfamiliar situation, participate in it appropriately, and describe it in writing.
- Interviewing and rigorous listening. Learn how to understand what someone is saying to you without imposing your own agenda on the conversation.
- Understanding diversity. Learn how communities in the US and internationally develop distinctive forms of expression that can foster strong identities, conflicts, and cultural bridges.
- The interpretation of culture: Learn how to “read” a wide variety of cultural messages according to their own conventions.
Specializing in Folklore
- The Folklore Concentration within the Comparative Studies major
- The Folklore Minor, open to students in any department, through the Department of Comparative Studies
- A Folklore Concentration within the English major