AFS-Teagle Project: Vernacular Knowledge (2009-2011)

From 2009 to 2011, CFS will participate in a multi-institutional working group funded by a grant from the Teagle Foundation to the American Folklore Society. As part of Teagle's "Big Questions and the Disciplines" initiative, we will be studying the relationship between lay and expert knowledge in contemporary society, bringing the legacy of the field to bear on several critical questions, including:

  • How does lay knowledge negotiate among experience, events, and social conventions?
  • How is it transmitted in the absence of codification, and in what sense does it persist over time?
  • How do informal and codified knowledge interact, or fail to interact, in different social and historical settings?
  • How do the rhetorical strategies of each affect their reception?

The goal of the project is to develop undergraduate curricular materials that both address the questions explicitly and work to help students mediate between their own community-based knowledge and the mode of academic learning. The group draws together nine faculty and a graduate student from institutions reflecting the range of contexts in which folklore is taught. AFS Executive Director Tim Lloyd and CFS Director Dorothy Noyes will co-direct the project. The first group meeting will be held in Columbus in late January 2010. Our curricular experiments will begin in autumn 2009 as we develop the Veterans Learning Community.

Contact: Dorothy Noyes,