Current Folklore Course Offerings


Spring 2021


Undergraduate Courses


Turkish class image

TURK2241: Beyond Harems and Belly Dancers: Turkish Culture
GE Cultures and Ideas, GE Global Studies
#34827 Online, Asynchronous
Dr. Schoon

This course provides a survey of Turkish culture through brief forays into history, geography, language, literature, visual and performing arts, food, sports, fashion, media, religion, politics and society, and more. These forays will provide opportunities for deeper explorations into issues of contemporary relevance and central importance to Turkey and its global connections. You will engage in online interactions with Turkish students in Istanbul and develop global competence through an individualized intercultural development plan and a collaborative project. This is a highly interactive class that will provide hands on intercultural experiences and global learning. This course is Second Session.

English 2270/Comparative Studies 2350: Introduction to Folklore
Sarah Craycraft
Course#: 19242 (English) | 17951( CompStudies)
Tuesday and Thursday 12:45PM - 2:05PM (In person)

English 2270(H)/Comparative Studies 2350(H): Introduction to Folklore (Honors)
Dr. Merrill Kaplan
Course#: 33880 (English) | 34315 (CompStudies)
Tuesday and Thursday 9:35AM - 10:55AM (Online)

Folklore is the culture that people make for themselves. Not all of us are specialists, but all of us tell stories and cultivate communities. This class explores everyday expressive forms including stories, customs, objects and digital forms shared in informal contexts. We will consider various interpretive approaches to these examples of folklore and folklife, and we will investigate the history of folklore studies. Recurring central issues will include the dynamics of tradition, the nature of creativity and artistic expression, and the construction of group identities. Folklore theory and methods will be explored through readings and an independent collecting project in which students will gather folklore from the wild, document it and interpret it for meaning. GE: Cultures and Ideas.

International Studies 4195: Selected Problems in International Studies: Belonging in Europe 
Dr. Dorothy Noyes
Wednesday and Friday 9:35-10:55 (Hybrid delivery (pending events): in-person on Wednesday, Zoom on Friday)

This course introduces you to the everyday habits and everyday contradictions of life in Europe. We will be thinking about the big political and existential issues--identity, coexistence, attachment to place, coping with change--not through the operations of institutions but as lived on the ground and considered in culture. You'll learn some basic approaches to interpretive and ethnographic methods in the humanities as we compare forms and strategies across a wide range of cases - street life in Estonia, wine festivals in Spain, parades in Northern Ireland and Caribbean London, tourism in Venice, weddings in Macedonia, football fandom in Italy, name changes in Turkey, and the Eurovision Song Contest. National stereotypes and conflicts run deep in the stories that Europeans tell about themselves, but domestic difference is just as important, and we'll look at the historical construction of gender, class, race/ethnicity, and religion across the region, as well as the complex interactions with the Arctic, the Americas, the Mediterranean, and Asia that have fostered both a certain idea of Europe and its present dilemmas and opportunities. Our central concern is the sense of belonging as a compound of ideas, experiences, and social interactions.

This is the trial run of a new course, so your input will be valuable in shaping what goes forward. All levels of experience are wanted and welcome. Course requirements include participation in discussion, regular short writings, a group presentation on a current issue, and a final essay allowing you to connect the course materials to some personal interest.


A young Black man stands in a crowd on a lawn holding a sign that says "I AM Human"

English 4577.01Folklore and Human Rights: Cultural and Climate Sustainability, Disability, Refugees
Dr. Amy Shuman
Wednesday and Friday 12:45-2:05 (Online)

By working with local cultural groups with their particular environmental challenges, folklorists have engaged in questions about questions about how people both experience exclusion and how they have created resources for survival.  Most of this folklore research is  what is called participatory research, based on collaborations with community members.  For this class, we will be reading documents (including films, websites, stories) produced by those communities.  Students’ responsibilities include reading/viewing these documents, participating in class discussions, and collaborating on a project.

Students will identify examples of local community cultural practices related to human rights and post these to Carmen 3 times during the semester.  Students will post comments on the readings every week and these will count as both the midterm and final exam.  Students will work in groups to produce a collaborative project related to one of the central themes.


English 4599: Introduction to Narrative Theory
Dr. Amy Shuman
Wednesday and Friday 11:10 - 12:30PM (Online)

Stories give shape to our everyday life experiences.  We tell stories about ourselves, about others, about trivial interactions that fade from memory, and about life changing events.  In this course we explore who tells stories to whom and in what contexts and how they tell them.  We’ll examine narrative form, genre, performance, repertoire and interaction.  For the final project, students will work with narratives of their choice, whether from print, web-sources, interviews, or daily life, and will describe those narratives in terms of one or more of the narrative dimensions discussed in class.

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses


English/Comparative Studies 5189-S: Ohio Field School
Dr. Katherine Borland and Dr. Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth
Tuesdays 10:00AM - 12:45PM (Hybrid)

The Ohio Field School Course provides an introduction to ethnographic field methods (participant-observation, writing field notes, photographic documentation, audio-interviewing), archiving, and the public exhibition of research for both undergraduates and graduate students. Students will contribute to a team-based, immersive research project designed to document the ways that diverse communities express and preserve a sense of place in the face of economic, environmental and cultural change. Research projects will be centered around the requests of partnering organizations. The semester-long, experientially-based course will consist of the following:

  • Introduction to fieldwork: A zoom-accessible class on Tuesdays from 10-12 (slightly shorter time than listed in the schedule).  The class will involve both discussion of existing literature and reflection on our own practice.
  • Lab (approximately 3 hours per week) in the Folklore Archives with appropriate social distancing in place. During these hours student teams will be involved in preparatory research, remote fieldwork, accessioning, and the preparation of a public-facing project, designed in consultation with community partners.
  • As becomes possible, we hope to offer voluntary opportunities to visit Southern Perry County and environs (hiking, participation in outdoor community events, self-guided road tours) and outdoor gatherings of our entire research group, but these plans are contingent upon public health recommendations and pandemic conditions in spring 2021.

Throughout the semester, students will practice all of the skills necessary to construct a permanent record of local expressive culture that will be accessible to future researchers and community members.

To enroll students must first attend an information session and apply for the course. Information sessions will be on Oct. 28 at 10 AM and Nov. 10 at 4 PM via zoom. To register for the info sessions and receive a zoom link, please follow this link:

Participation in all parts of the course is required to receive a passing grade.


Comparative Studies 5691-001: Topics in Comparative Studies
Common Sense: Knowledge, Experience, and Social Life
Dr. Dorothy Noyes
Wednesday and Friday 12:45-2:05PM (Hybrid delivery (pending events): Wednesday in person, Friday on Zoom)

What does it mean when you're told to "use your common sense"? This new course examines the rhetoric of common sense in relation to debates over the authority of knowledge, the value of practical experience, and what should be shared or shareable in social life. Our interdisciplinary exploration will start with folklore: how children (and artists) play at the border of sense and nonsense, how proverbs and other kinds of pedagogic discourse produce everyday "good sense," and how leftover formulations continue to circulate as clichés or "commonplaces," often with disruptive social consequences. Then we'll look at debates on the relation of the senses to knowledge and the communicability of experience across sociocultural divides, thinking about consensus and dissensus as socially accomplished. We'll read about the history of common sense as a democratic, sometimes populist, political ideal that interacts with the rise of secular modernity, scientific expertise, and technocratic politics. This will bring us to the present: division and mistrust in the age of social media and "fake news," questions about the possibility of shared understandings when interests diverge and structures discriminate, and new imaginings of commonality (or separation) in social justice projects.

This course is the first run of a new course to be created at Gen-Ed level. I'm hoping for a good mix of students from different departments and at different levels of their undergraduate and graduate programs: your insights and interests will help to shape the new syllabus. We'll do group research projects on the "common sense" of different social issues, and individual final papers on current stances toward the common. No exams, but active participation is expected in discussion and short writings.

Graduate Courses

ENG 8858 Vernacular Ecologies of the Central Appalachian Forests: A Research Practicum
Thursday 10:10AM - 12:10PM (Online, Synchronous)
Dr. Mary Hufford (Visiting Professor of Folklore)

A vernacular forest emerges through processes of ordinary living; through forms of expression and customary practice that render human and more-than-human members of forest communities mutually constitutive.  Focussed on communities of Central Appalachia’s mixed mesophytic forest, this seminar is designed for graduate students in folklore, anthropology, environmental studies, geography and allied fields.  Scholarly literature over the past three decades indicates a global trend toward legitimizing traditional ecological knowledge and the validity of socio-ecological systems as objects of research and stewardship.  While Central Appalachia is strikingly invisible in this literature, a small but growing body of archeological, environmental, and ethnographic literature suggests that vernacular ecological knowledge within the region is historically deep, persistent, and vital to the cultivation of food security and livelihoods in a time of climate crisis.  To gain access to the rich social lives of Central Appalachian forest species and their habitats, you will design a place-based ethnography that engages vernacular ecological knowledge in a Central Appalachian forest community of your choosing.  Using a performance theory framework, we will identify forms of social communication – conversational genres, festive events, customary practices etc. -- that serve as matrices for a vernacular forest community of human and more-than-human members. We will ask: how might we engage such forms – portals onto forest community life -- as both means and objects of shared inquiry?  Methods will include a literature survey, archival research, and at least one interview (online or telephone).  Your final project will be a well-wrought proposal which you will submit to an appropriate funding source.  

English 7872: Discourse Analysis: Social Contexts (listed as "Seminar in English Language Studies")
Dr. Gabriella Modan

Thursdays 1:50-4:50 (Online, synchronous)

For students interested in examining discourse as part of a linguistics, literature, folklore, or other humanities or social science research project, this course will give you the tools to investigate how language structure (not just content) shapes perceptions, values, social interaction, and power struggles. The course provides an overview of the major approaches to analyzing spoken and written discourse used in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology, including interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, and critical discourse analysis. We will explore how the contexts of various spheres of social interaction both shape and are shaped by discourse that occurs in or in relation to them.  The approach that we will take to analyzing texts is a micro-level one, focusing on the details of linguistic structure and how those details connect to more macro spheres of social engagement.  Students will collect examples of spoken and written texts, and analyze them in short paper assignments. No prerequisites required. REQUIREMENTS: transcription assignment, discussion leading, 3 short papers, one conference-length final paper.

Affiliated Courses

Medieval and Renaissance 2666: Magic and Witchcraft in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Dr. Kristen M. Figg
Course# 29210
Wednesday 12:40PM - 1:35Pm (Online)

In this interdisciplinary course, students will explore the history and culture of witchcraft and magic in Europe from about 400 C.E. to 1700 C.E., including examination of its religious, intellectual, and sociological contexts. As students gain basic knowledge of the history of witchcraft and magic during these periods (both actual practice and contemporary beliefs about that practice), they will develop some ability to understand why these practices and beliefs developed as they did and what societal and cultural needs drove them.

Readings for the course will be mainly primary materials—that is, treatises, trial transcripts, statutes, and literature from the medieval and early modern periods, as well as some biblical and classical background texts. The main textbook will be The Witchcraft Sourcebook, ed. Brian Levack (2nd edition, 2015); you will also need copies of Medea and Doctor Faustus, for which online links will be provided. Additional short readings and lecture outlines will be posted on Canvas. We will be watching several movies, as well as discussing film clips and magic/witchcraft-themed music.

The course will be delivered entirely online, with two prerecorded lectures per week plus one synchronous class (55 minutes). Assignments will include weekly participation in an online discussion group, three fact-based quizzes, and a final exam.

Prereq: Not open to students with credit for Medieval 240. GE culture and ideas and diversity global studies course.

Spanish 5389: Latino Languages and Communities
Dr. Anna Babel
Tuesday and Thursday 2:20PM - 3:40PM (Online, synchronous)

This course focuses on the languages of Latino communities in the United States.  We will discuss the diversity of Latino experiences in the US and the central role of language in the development of a “Latino” identity, as well as its role in local understandings of ethnicity, gender, and social class, among other categories.  Course material is drawn primarily from ethnographies of language, which provide a richly contextualized approach to the relationship between language(s) and culture(s).  In order to understand this scholarship within the context of linguistic and anthropological approaches to language, we focus on the theoretical concepts of language ideologies, identity, and critical approaches to race and ethnicity.  While the central portion of this course concerns areas with traditionally large Latino populations (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Texas), we will also consider evidence from other types of Latino communities, including the New Latino Diaspora and speakers of indigenous Latin American languages in US.  The course structure pairs particular readings with discussions of key theoretical concepts.  Students will learn to discuss, compare, and synthesize material from the case studies that we examine.

Music 8950: Musicology Seminar: Experiencing Music and Sound in Prose - A Writer's Workshop
Dr. Ryan Skinner
Friday 11:00AM - 1:00PM (In person)

In this seminar, we will explore how we write musical/audible experience. Taking our cues from authors in and (especially) out of the academy, we will consider the particular challenge of rendering musical and sonic phenomena in prose. In particular, we will examine the work of writers who may serve as models, in various ways, for transposing sound and music into the written word. In this way, we will read novelists whose work captures what it’s like to make and be moved by music; poets who explore the aural qualities of language; journalists who help us hear the liveness of a musical event; and scholars who have pushed the boundaries of prose to get us closer to the animate resonance of their musical/audible subjects. We will also consider other socially mediated forms of musical representation, by listening in to the work of innovative podcasts and online videos.

This class will also serve as a space for students to workshop their own music/sound writing. After the midterm, we will devote an entire class period to two pieces of student writing, in which the two students will present their work, talk about the process of writing up the material (breakthroughs, challenges, sticking points, etc.) and receive robust constructive criticism from their peers. This might be a chapter draft for a thesis, an essay being prepared to submit to a peer-reviewed journal, or work, whether scholarly or creative, with a non-academic endpoint.

Students will develop their writing examples during the first half of the semester, workshop the piece in class, and then turn in a draft of the writing that incorporates peer feedback at the end of the semester.