Courses: 2006-2007


Autumn 2006 | Winter 2007 | Spring 2007 | Summer 2007

Autumn 2006

Slavic 130: Introduction to Slavic Culture: The Vampire in East European and American Culture
Instructor: Dr. Daniel Collins
TR 1:30pm-3:18pm
Slavic 130 is a course that discusses different approaches to the problem of Evil. We will focus on the myth of the vampire, an embodiment of Evil that has had enduring power both in East European folk belief and in American popular culture right up to the present day. It has been observed that "every age creates the vampire that it needs" (Nina Auerbach). In other words, different cultures and time periods have different views on the definition and causes of Evil (or even whether Evil exists at all). Therefore, we have to examine the images of the vampire and Evil (or its absence) in the cultural contexts that gave them rise. In our study of vampire beliefs and evil, we will cover a wide variety of topics:

    * The function of monsters in coping with fears, identity issues, & repressed desires.
    * Folk beliefs about time, death, the soul, the family, fertility, and diseases.
    * Views of Evil in different religions-animism, polytheism, dualism, Christianity, and Islam.
    * Rites of passage and their function in society.
    * Boundary-crossers and their demonization in East European folklore.
    * Folk monsters related to the vampire (Evil Eye, rusalka, nav, mora, etc.).
    * Dracula; his image in Romania; how he came to be a symbol of evil in the West.
    * The vampire's changing image over the ages and how it relates to different ideas Evil.
    * Why the vampire has had such enduring power and adaptability as a cultural symbol.

English 270: Introduction to Folklore
Instructor: Ray Cashman
MW 9:30am-11:18am
Call # 08491-4
This class explores forms of traditional, vernacular culture--including verbal art, custom, and material culture--shared by men and women from a number of regional, ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. At the same time, we will consider various interpretive, theoretical approaches to examples of folklore and folklife discussed, and we will investigate the history of folklore studies and the cultural contexts in which this field has flourished. Recurring central issues will include the dynamics of tradition, the nature of creativity and artistic expression, the construction of personal and group identity, and the relationship between folklore and world view. Assignments will include quizzes, essays, a folklore collection and analysis project, and a final exam.

English 367.05: US Folk Experience
Instructor: Merrill Kaplan
TR 9:30am-11:18am
Call # 08536-1
In this course, we will investigate how Americans tell stories about the supernatural, the uncanny, the wondrous, and the unbelievable. Students will become familiar with legend and folktale and some of their subgenres. Narratives will be drawn from the traditions of several different cultural and ethnic populations living in the United States. Readings will focus on stories of the supernatural, including ghost stories, accounts of magic, and other difficult-to-credit narrative forms such as fairy tales. In thinking about and analyzing these stories, students will have the opportunity to practice critical reading, develop original theses, articulate their ideas in essays, and refine their arguments through revision.

370 Mythology of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
Instructor: Sam Meier
TR 9:30am-11:18am
Call # 12213-9
Prereq: English 110 or 111 or equiv. GEC arts and hums cultures and ideas course.
This course is designed to provide students with a comparative overview of the mythologies of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Its focus is the stories that were recounted as successful integrators of perceived reality in the context of these two major ancient cultures. As such, it will identify and explain basic theoretical issues involved in the analysis of myth; examine the central narratives that have been preserved from those cultures; and investigate the varied perspectives that characterize the world-views and life-concerns expressed in these texts. By reading representative selections of both primary and secondary sources, students will be exposed to both the ancient texts themselves as well as relevant contemporary scholarship.

English 577.01: Folk Groups and Communities: Ethnographies of Muslim and Jewish Columbus
Instructor: Amy Shuman
TR 9:30am-11:18am
Call # 08569-7
Students will work with Muslim and Jewish community institutions in Columbus to create maps of the traditions of everyday life (from grocery stores, to language acquisition, to music, to places for celebrations). Some of these places are invisible to outsiders, and our maps do not necessarily conform to neighborhoods. Rather they reflect the lived experiences of people in the community. Our central interest is in how people become engaged in the transmission of their own culture, not just as passive recipients of instruction. The maps will serve as a starting point for the groups to serve as tour guides for outsiders. This course is generally supported by an Outreach and Engagement Grant and by the Mershon and Melton Centers. No pre-requisites; A packet of readings will introduce students to folklore, heritage, and Columbus groups. Assignments and exams: Mid-term preliminary project plan and final group multi media presentation and actual tour of sites.

English 870: The Folk: Theories of High and Low Culture
Instructor: Amy Shuman
TR 1:30pm-3:18
Call # 08749-1
The concept of the folk is an invention of modernity and nationalism. The classification as "folk" can be used negatively, to exoticize others, to demean particular practices, or positively, to reclaim identity, or as a strategy of empowerment, among other alternatives. This course explores many of the modern binary oppositions that rely on or include the concept of folk, such as belief/superstitition, high/low, oral/literary, modern/traditional. In addition to these academic classifications, we will observe how groups use the category of folk in their understandings of themselves, whether in terms of heritage culture, ethnic customs, or subcultures. Readings will include academic discussions of issues, popular ethnographies in which groups represent themselves, and representations used in museums, festivals or other public events. No prior familiarity with folklore is necessary. Requirements: oral presentation on one of the readings; written responses to readings; term paper.
This course is one of the core "theory" courses in the new folklore curriculum. For further information on the folklore curriculum and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Folklore (currently under review), please contact Dorothy Noyes, the Director of the Center for Folklore Studies, at

Comparative Studies 880: Culture and Capital: Tradition, Innovation, and Intellectual Property
Instructor: Dorothy Noyes
M 1:30pm-4:18pm
Call # 05559-9
The interactions of vernacular culture with institutional property regimes are currently the subject of intensive debate between corporations, nation-states, social movements (such as the Creative Commons), and intergovernmental organizations (such as UNESCO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the World Trade Organization). This seminar uses such debates as a starting point for considering the tensions between innovation and objectification in cultural processes under capitalism. We'll begin with case studies of vernacular creative process, exploring the commonalities between familiar folklore genres and such emergent traditions as hiphop and open-source software, considering how use-rights are negotiated by practitioners. After a brief orientation to the history of copyright and patent law, we'll explore some well-studied encounters between traditional culture, industrial production, and legal regimes in music, wine, and pharmaceuticals. Then we'll consider the proliferation of models in a moment when global corporations struggle between the rage for innovation and the desire for control, while other actors strive for both a piece of the action and the right to opt out of it. Readings will be drawn from cultural and economic anthropology, folklore, history, literary studies, ethnomusicology, and law. I also hope to draw on different disciplinary expertises among the students. Students will be asked to post responses to readings on a listserv before each class meeting. In addition, each student will do a seminar paper, either examining a case study or summarizing a policy debate. Students are urged to contact me if they would like to begin research or reading over the summer.

Winter 2007

English 367.05 The U.S. Folk Experience
Instructor TBA
MW 1:30-3:18
Call # 08331-2
This composition course asks students to read, research and write about a variety of types of folk groups and expressions. Students will learn some basic principles of interpreting folklore and use those as critical lenses to examine narratives (written and oral), material culture, and belief practices.

English 577.02 Folklore Genres: Legend
Professor Merrill Kaplan
TR 1:30-3:18
Call # 08364-1
This course introduces students to the legend, one of the three major genres of folk narrative. Is legend, as the Grimms wrote, “more historical” than folktale? Is this form of traditional narrative always “told as true,” as other scholars have maintained? Is it a narrative genre at all? This course explores these questions and examines the structure and subject matter of legend, the relationship between legend and personal experience, the place of legend in social discourse, and possibilities for interpreting legend as a meaningful expression. Examples will be drawn from several places and periods including the contemporary US and 19th-century Scandinavia. There are no prerequisites for this course. Assignments will include a class presentation, a term paper, and a final exam. Readings will be made available in a course packet and/or on electronic reserve.

English 770.01 Introduction to Graduate Study in Folklore 1: Folklore Genres and Interpretive Methods
Professor Dorry Noyes
MW 11:30-1:18
Call # 08537-8
This course, part of the newly revised graduate curriculum in folklore, provides an entry into folklore studies through the ground floor. While at 800-level we offer courses focusing on the core bodies of folklore theory-tradition, performance, and sociocultural differentiation--, the 770 series provides a practical introduction to the stuff of vernacular cultural creation and its study. This first course throws us into the deep end: interpreting folklore in context, the equivalent of close reading in literary studies. After a brief introduction to the history and politics of folklore research, we will survey the canonical oral, material, and gestural genres of the field, looking at a variety of traditions internationally through the work of good ethnographers. Through these examples, students will find guidelines for conducting their own "philology of the vernacular," in Richard Bauman's phrase. In addition to responses to the readings, students will perform a series of interpretive exercises to be revised into a final paper on material of their own choosing.

NELC 792 (Cross-Listed With Comparative Studies) Tradition & Transmission
Professor Margaret Mills
M 1:30-3:18
Call # 121546
This course is offered as one of the core graduate seminars for those interested in theory and research methodology in folklore studies. We will review theories of how cultural forms travel through time and space across social networks, their stability, variation, and cultural reproduction. Key terms such as genre, structure, formula, and text/ entextualization are examined for their place in theories of transmission. Other key concepts and topics: Diffusion and the comparative method; ethnomimesis; habit and the reproduction of the everyday; implicit vs. explicit memorial forms; theories of oral transmission, orality and memory techniques, literacy and entextualization; sites of memory (memory as celebrated, as sequestered, or censored/suppressed); cultural continuities operating below awareness; traditionalization and invented traditions; heritage.

Classics 870 Greek and Roman Religion and Myth: Animals in Mediterranean Antiquity
Professors Sarah Iles Johnston and Tim McNiven
R 1:30-4:18
Call # 05222-0
The aim of this course is "to test Levi-Strauss' oft-quoted precept that 'animals are good to think with' against the ancient material, understanding 'animals' to include the hybrid and the monstrous as well as the normal." Although it would be helpful if students could read Greek and Latin, the instructors would be happy to try to accommodate those who do not.

T&L 925.56 Ethnography of Communication
Professor Marcia Farr
T 4:30 p.m.
Call # 08020-1
This seminar introduces the Ethnography of Communication as a field of inquiry for studies of oral and written language, i.e. oral genres and literacy practices. It explores cultural differences in language use, investigating oral language and/or literacy practices within specific populations and across social contexts. This course is essential for those considering language or literacy-focused ethnographic research for their dissertations.
The course provides the theoretical framework and methodology of this field. In addition to two texts that cover theory, methods, and central concepts of the field, a third text is an example of research carried out within this tradition. This study focuses on the use of language to construct personhood in a transnational community of Mexican families living in Chicago and in their village-of-origin in Michoacán, Mexico.

Spring 2007

English 270 Introduction to Folklore
Amy Shuman
MW 1:30-3:18
This class explores forms of traditional, vernacular culture--including verbal art, custom, and material culture--shared by men and women from a number of regional, ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. At the same time, we will consider various interpretive, theoretical approaches to examples of folklore and folklife discussed, and we will investigate the history of folklore studies and the cultural contexts in which this field has flourished. Recurring central issues will include the dynamics of tradition, the nature of creativity and artistic _expression, the construction of personal and group identity, and the relationship between folklore and worldview. N.B. English graduate students wishing to fulfill their 903 requirement with this class, please contact Amy Shuman.

Comparative Studies 475 Studies in Ethnography: Theory and Practice in Ethnographic Fieldwork
Margaret Mills
MW 1:30-3:18
A hands-on introduction to ethnographic field research, from project design to research ethics, equipment and data management, and presenting your research. While carrying out a short field research project, students read and discuss key works on ethnography (theory and method) and meet a selection of experienced field workers. One weekly session will be for visiting speakers and reading discussion, the other a lab on class members' work in progress. There will be one group project available within which students can work on different aspects of documentation as members of a team, or you may do a solo project with people and a topic of your own choice. Final product: a 20-minute live presentation and a written report.

English 577.03 Irish Folklore
Ray Cashman
MW 9:30-11:18
For whom does the banshee howl? Why do mummers want room to rhyme? How are wakes more fun than weddings? This course introduces the popular beliefs, vernacular customs, material culture, and oral traditions of Ireland, north and south. Although much Irish folklore has roots in the prehistoric past, we will focus on those traditions documented from the late 18th through 21st centuries--a period when folklore inspired the Irish literary revival and served the nation-building project of a newly independent republic. We will conclude with an investigation of the politics of culture, identity, and heritage in contemporary Northern Ireland where the legacy of British colonialism remains most pronounced. Students will work with and help process as-yet unreleased audio materials from the archives of the Ulster Folk Museum. Other assignments will include a research paper, class presentations, and exam.

Comparative Studies 677.03 Approaches to Festival and Dance: Comparative Studies of Movement Traditions
Katherine Borland
W 3:30-6:18
Folk festivals, popular celebrations, ritual movement, sport and social dancing are potent expressions of cultural identity that have just begun to be theorized in folklore and anthropology. These popular entertainments are often key sites for the expression of social and political conflicts. In some circumstances they may contain or mute underlying hostilities; in others, they provide a prelude to violence. In this course we will explore the rich ethnographic record on collective performances as we engage in a critical reading of the major theories and interpretive models for the study of popular ritual. This course will be run as a seminar. In addition to reading and discussing key theoretical statements about festival, ritual, movement, and dance, students will take considerable responsibility for surveying and presenting new ethnographic studies of popular ritual from a variety of cultural traditions. Our class goal will be to develop a comparative framework for understanding the socially and historically contextualized studies student groups present. In addition, students will be expected to pursue their own research and connect it with at least one of the theoretical approaches we cover in class.

English 770.03 The Ethnography of Communication
Ray Cashman
M W 1:30-3:18
This seminar treats language as social action and investigates how people from a range of speech communities "do things with words" (J.L. Austin). Through close attention to specific speech events we come to appreciate how the meanings of verbal messages are negotiated by speakers and listeners employing and enacting culturally specific models of performance, expectation, and interpretation. We will consider perspectives from linguistic anthropologists, sociolinguists, folklorists, and performance studies scholars to better appreciate the interdisciplinary "ethnography of communication" approach pioneered by Dell Hymes. We will give special attention to longer stretches of oral discourse in their performance contexts, in particular narratives from several genres (e.g., personal experience narratives, jokes, legends, myths). Assignments include an ethnography of a speech event, transcription exercises, class presentations, and a final exam.

Summer 2007

Comparative Studies 677.03: American Foodways: Folk Custom, Art, and Material Culture
Instructor: Charley Camp
TR 01:30 - 05:30
CCN 17959-7
Folklorists often gravitate toward cultural expressions that are widely practiced and commonly considered to hold the "small" meanings of social gesture and custom as well as the "grand" meanings of identity, spirituality, and family. Foodways - the intersection of food and culture - is well-situated for the identification of the expressive dimensions of ordinary experience, and yields a wealth of both ethnographic detail and cross-cultural comparison. This course will examine the social and material culture of American foodways with eye for the field's precise location within the abiding concerns of appetite and taste and the power of food "events" to address our needs for nourishment in every sense of that term. Through fieldwork and autobiographical exercises, through social and material genres such as folk belief, ritual, custom, and architecture, students will explore the connectedness foodways provides for a unified, dynamic model of tradition.