Course Archives: 2020-2021


Fall 2020

Undergraduate Courses | Undergraduate/Graduate Courses | Graduate Courses | Affiliated Courses

Undergraduate Courses

Comparative Studies 2350(H) | English 2270(H) (two sections)
Staff (& Borland) | TuTh 11:10AM-12:30PM (WF 12:45PM-2:05PM) | Baker 198 (Enarson 214)
This class explores forms of traditional, vernacular culture - including verbal art, custom, and material culture - shared by people from a number of regional, ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. We will consider various interpretive, theoretical approaches to 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, where students will gather folklore from their home town or the college campus.  Students will interview people for stories and other oral forms, and will document cultural practices through photographs, drawings and fieldnotes. Final collecting projects will be accessioned in the Student Ethnographic Collection at the Center for Folklore Studies Archives. Make your mark documenting the expressive culture you know most intimately and that you value most and expand the consultable record of human experience.

English 2367.05
Staff | WF 12:45PM-2:05PM | Dulles 27

Concepts of American folklore & ethnography; folk groups, tradition, & fieldwork methodology; how these contribute to the development of critical reading, writing, & thinking skills.

Modern Greek 2680
Georgios Anagnostou | TuTh 12:45PM-2:05PM | Enarson 206

A general survey of socio-cultural trends and issues in modern Greece through close examination of ethnographies and other folk expressions.

VAMPIRES, MONSTROSITY, AND EVIL: From Slavic Myth to Twilight
Slavic 2230 (two sections)
Daniel Collins (David McVey) | TuTh 11:10AM-12:30PM (WF 11:10AM-12:30PM) | Arps 12 (McPherson 1035)

Changing approaches to evil as embodied in vampires in East European folk belief & European & American pop culture; function of vampire & monster tales in cultural context, including peasant world & West from Enlightenment to now. Taught in English.

FOLKLORE II: Genre, Form, Meaning, and Use
English 4577.02
Merrill Kaplan | TuTh 12:45PM-2:05PM | Hopkins 246

LEGEND has classically been defined as a genre of prose narrative, an objectively false story told by people who ignorantly believe it is true. Almost everything about this definition is wrong. This course explores legend, rumor, superstition, and folk belief in places and times from 19th-century Scandinavia to the 21st-century Internet. We’ll get to know the structure and subject matter of legend, the relationship between legend, belief, and personal experience, and the nature of legend as contested truth. We’ll learn about the history of the collection of legends and become acquainted with the work of major scholars. By the end of the course, students will understand some of the difficulties posed by attempts to define legend as a genre and have learned strategies for interpreting legend and rumor as meaningful expression.


Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

Chinese 5400
Mark Bender | M 2:15PM-5:00PM | Hagerty 159
Introduction to the panorama of oral and orally-connected performance traditions of China; explores local traditions of professional storytelling, epic singing, folksongs, and local drama.

Japanese 5400
Shelley Quinn | WF 2:20PM-3:40PM | Enarson 218

Introduction to performance traditions of Japan; explores selected performing arts in their cultural contexts and examines patterns of emergence in modern times.


Graduate Courses

English 6761
Amy Shuman | Th 12:40PM-3:40PM | Journalism Bldg 387
An introduction to the foundations of narrative study. The course provides the tools necessary to do narrative analysis for a thesis or dissertation on any sort of narrative text, including both narratives collected in interviews or on the web or in published fiction. We will discuss a wide variety of narratives including folk tales, everyday conversational narratives, stories about illness and disability, refugee stories, and stories about the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of everyday life. We will analyze narratives from a variety of sources, including published fiction and non-fiction, internet blogs and other media, and stories recorded in everyday life.

English 7350
Dorothy Noyes | Tu 9:10AM-12:10PM | Denney 419

The performance turn in folklore, anthropology, and related disciplines has illuminated our understanding of agency and efficacy in everyday life as well as in specialized cultural production. In a major revision of the modern culture concept, the performance approach focuses on cultural forms as process and practice: not texts instantiating a static shared worldview but historically situated, convention-based transactions among persons. Standing against the modern linguistic ideology that privileges reference, the performance approach looks at how representations construct and manipulate reality. Reacting to the focus on deep structure in most grand theory, it insists on the significance of material and interactional surfaces. With its attention to bodies in motion, it also remains relevant as a corrective to the reification of values and identities in contemporary cultural politics. This seminar will examine both programmatic texts and selected case studies in the ethnography of performance: that is, an approach based in "thick description" of instances. While theory in the field has tended to develop within genre specializations, we will examine verbal art, cultural performance (ritual, festival, spectacle) and personal performance together in the attempt to illustrate common issues and a general paradigm. Students will share in preparing for discussion and write a research paper. This course fulfills the core theory requirement of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Folklore.

English 7888.01 (35761)
Mary Hufford | W 10:00am-12:00pm | Online

"Environmental imaginaries" names the contending discourses that order society around processes of development and change. Public controversies over development are often staged as struggles between collectively-wrought worlds, or “imaginaries,” that relate us in particular ways to our surroundings. The phenomenological idea of the “social imaginary” has gained currency among social theorists as a way to understand the relationship between the world as lived and experienced and the world as “objectively” recoverable through scientific methods.  In the 1990s geographers Michael Watts and Richard Peet coined the term “environmental imaginaries” to focus attention on human relationships to the “natural” world as an overlooked dimension of modern social imaginaries.

Designed for students planning to do environmentally-related, community based-fieldwork in Central Appalachian settings, this seminar explores the role of customary practices and genres of communication in the ongoing production of contending social imaginaries anchored in Appalachian forests, soils, and waters.  How do discourses of policy makers, regulators, industry, and experts across the sciences and humanities embed forests, soils, and waters in radically different ontologies?  What are the effects on localities produced by communities over many generations of interaction with flora, fauna, and minerals of the Central Appalachian plateaus? What translational work is needed to bring into dialogue mutually unintelligible worlds anchored in the same materials? Informed by readings, films, discussions and guest speakers, and adapting field methods to online platforms, students will design and carry out documentary interviews, experiment with participatory research methods such as photo voice, and develop a prospectus for post-covid fieldwork informed by an understanding of contending environmental imaginaries at play around contested resources. 


Courses by Affiliated Faculty

Music 8885

Ryan Skinner | T/Th 3:55-5:15pm Music & Dance (18th Ave) Library
In this course, we will explore and interrogate a variety of approaches to the “field” in (and of)  ethnomusicology.  Beginning  with  the  concepts  and  practices  of  an  established anthropology of music (including participant observation, thick/thin description, radical empiricism, and dialogic ethnography), we read, look, and listen into other models for the study of humanly organized sound in the world (including the anthropology of the senses, sound  studies, visual  anthropology, historical [ethno]musicology, cultural  studies, performance  studies,  and  media and communication  studies). As such, this course encourages students to think  broadly, critically, and creatively about the field(s) of ethnomusicology and the work we do (and  create) therein. To encourage meaningful cross-disciplinary encounters, students will have the opportunity to interact directly with several visiting scholars (in person, or online) throughout the semester. Students will also be expected to complete two small fieldwork projects, conducted locally, which they will present to the class at the midterm and final sessions of the class.

Spanish 8330
Anna Babel | Tu 2:30PM-5:15PM | Hagerty 255

In this course, you will gain hands-on experience in qualitative research design and execution. We will discuss a variety of topics and methods, including identifying a community, integration, participant-observation, ethnography, sampling, interview skills, attitudes and ideologies, interpreting cultural artifacts, ethics, and the "observer's paradox." Most importantly, we will discuss how to construct a convincing theoretical argument based on convergent evidence from a variety of sources. This class will be of interest to any student who wishes to integrate qualitative data into their research, or any student who wants a structured environment in which to practice these skills. Students will design and implement several small-scale projects over the course of the class, so be ready to get your feet wet!

Spring 2020

Undergraduate Courses


English 2270/Comparative Studies 2350 | #17367/18705
Martha Sims | TuThu 12:45PM-2:05PM | Ramseyer Hall 115

Folklore is the culture that people make for themselves. Folklore is cherished by families or danced on the streets by unruly young people. The forms of folklore circulate from person to person and group to group, adapting to every change of situation; they lend themselves to a wide array of social purposes. We will look at a range of cultural practices from both US and international settings, including oral/verbal, customary, and material genres of folklore. Students who take this course will learn how to put their knowledge of expressive culture to real-world use, such as listening for and attending to cultural differences in educational and public sector contexts. We will also learn how to conduct an ethnographic project—from collecting data, interviewing, and transcribing, to analyzing and archiving the material. Potential topics include: dorm life rituals, jokes and pranks, traditions of rural Ohio (farming, forestry, hunting), yard art, or local festivals and foodways. GE Culture and Ideas. Folklore Minor.

ENGLISH 3372 | #25849
Merrill Kaplan | TuTh 9:35AM-10:55AM | Journalism Building 270

Tolkien's bestiary of wights, wargs, balrogs, and nazguls is half the fun of his books. Add the "races" of elves, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, and men and there is a lot to talk about. What is a monster and what do monsters mean? What are the relationships between Tolkien's monsters and the elves, dragons, and trolls of folklore and medieval epic? How have Tolkien's ideas about race affected subsequent fantasy literature and games? In looking at monsters, we'll examine the boundaries of the human and explore the violent language of dehumanization. We'll hew to the books, not the movies, and readings will include the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien`s essay "The Monsters and the Critics," modern theoretical works on monstrosity and about race, and comparative texts from folklore and medieval literature.

Comparative Studies 4191 | #34488 (1-3 units depending on student schedule)
Cassie Patterson | TBD

This archival internship pairs undergraduate students with community partners in Delaware County and Scioto County to continue community fieldworking and digitizing projects being carried out by the Folklore Archives at the Center for Folklore Studies. Interested students should email the Director of the Folklore Archives, Dr. Cassie Patterson, at for more information about individual projects. 


Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

English/CompStd 5189 | #
Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth, Katherine Borland | Mo 10:00AM-12:45PM | Hagerty Hall 251

The Ohio Field Schools 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. The semester-long, experientially-based course will consist of three parts:

  • Introduction to fieldwork (on OSU campus in Columbus)
  • A one-week field experience in Scioto County during spring break (where students will reside together on-site)
  • Accessioning, digital gallery preparation, and reflection (on OSU campus in Columbus)

Thus, 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. Participation in all parts of the course is required.

Theatre 5899/6194 | # 34568

Moriah Flagler | Fr 9:00AM-12:00PM | Drake Center 2038

This community-engaged devising course actively examines theories, practices, pedagogies, and politics associated with creating performance by, with, and for communities outside of formal theatre settings. Students in this course will explore big questions in the field of applied drama & theatre and actively put that theory into practice by facilitating a devising process with community participants in the Hilltop area. This course requires around 1.5 hours of facilitation time in the Hilltop per week and culminates in a public sharing of work in April. Students must have access to reliable transportation or discuss this with the instructor.

Throughout the course students will learn devising techniques, plan/workshop sessions, and facilitate a devising process with one of our partnerships in the Hilltop. The communities we engage with are multilingual and our work includes many opportunities for speaking Spanish. Students interested in enrolling should contact the instructor, Moriah Flagler (.4) by email.

Graduate Courses


English 7891 | #33739
Amy Shuman | Tu 1:50PM-4:50PM | Dulles Hall 016

One might say that stigma marks the difference between disability and illness, between normalcy and its opposites, and between competency and incompetency.  Stigma is a social marking (for the Greeks a literal mark on the body), that assigns negative, discrediting, value to particular personal attributes.  The study of disability shares many foundational concepts with studies race, class, gender, and sexuality; the Disability Rights Movement grew out of the Civil Rights Movement and shares many of the premises developed in feminist research.  Although disability itself is a pervasive dimension of social life, the study of disability is often overlooked in studies of race, class, and gender.  Our focus on stigma, competency, and normalcy will address some of these overlooked dimensions and consider the many intersections, for example the role of disclosure as a choice/strategy/requirement.  Our methodological approach combines research in folklore/ethnography/linguistic anthropology with narrative research and feminist research. Readings include excerpts from Goffman’s Stigma,The Disability Studies Reader, Ato Quayson’s Aesthetic Nervousness, Michael Berubé’s Secret Life of Stories, Diagnosing Folklore, and others. The course requires a final project.


Courses by Affiliated Faculty


NELC/Anthropology 2241 | #28274
Danielle Schoon | TuTh 11:10AM-12:30PM

This course provides an ethnographic overview of the "Culture" and cultures of the contemporary Middle East. It is designed to increase student knowledge and awareness about the Middle East in regard to its cultural, social, political and religious institutions. The history of the region is examined as background to developing a more thorough understanding of the contemporary Middle East as represented by its villages, towns, and cities. This is also a course in the comparative study of culture, addressing essential questions in the study of societies located within a single regional context which are informed by different cultural traditions. We'll get acquainted with the region through readings, films, and other course materials that provide fascinating windows into the Middle East " close-up".


English 3372 | #25815
Jordan Lovejoy | TuTh 12:45PM-2:05PM | Caldwell Lab 177

Introduction to the tradition and practice of speculative writing. Provides students the opportunity to examine and compare works of science fiction and/or fantasy.
Prereq: 1110.01 (110.01) or equiv. Not open to students with credit for 372. GE lit course.


Chinese 4407 | #33533
Mark Bender | WeFr 2:20-3:40PM | University Hall 028

This course will look at “Eco-literature” or “literature of the environment” in China, contextualized within global and Intra-Asia perspectives.The study of eco-literature is a relatively new field, but has deep roots in the history of literature and folklore. We will explore songs, epics, stories, poems, novels, indie videos from various local cultures in China and border areas.


GEOGRAPHY 5502 | #32541/32542
Nancy Ettlinger | TuTh 12:45-2:05PM | Denney Hall 238

This course examines the neoliberal governance of cities and associated problems and prospects for change from the vantage point of social in/justice. The course begins with an introduction to different critical approaches to neoliberalism, and then focuses on case studies regarding selected topics drawing from the different approaches. Readings cover cities around the world; class discussion includes a comparative, context-sensitive assessment of neoliberal urban governance. The course includes a research paper that students can use towards their research programs (senior or MA thesis, dissertation, publication). Contact Nancy Ettlinger,, Derby 1144 for more details, previous syllabus, questions.


Dance 7408 | #32445
Harmony Bench | Mo 2:15PM-5:00PM | Sullivant Hall 225

This interdisciplinary graduate seminar begins with the proposition that all politics are a politics of the body. We will therefore set out to examine how (human) bodies are framed and deployed for political functions, how they circulate or are constrained, and how people choose to put their bodies on the line as testimony of their political investments. We will draw from multiple fields of inquiry, including performance studies, critical cultural theory, political philosophy, as well as theater and dance performance. We will further consider how political and performing bodies negotiate identities, display themselves or are displayed for others, protest social inequality, and experience pain--even death. We will bring a choreographic lens to bear on each of these topics, along with a set of of analytical tools attuned to the perils of having one's body on the line. 


English 4554.02 | #33808
Amy Shuman & Wendy Hesford

With the city of London as its focus, this education abroad course (ENGLISH 4554: English Studies and Global Human Rights) will explore global migration in the context of the current crisis around refugees. Framed around five key terms – migration, suspicion, crisis, exhaustion and fusion — we will study cultural representations (art, literature, film, theatre, exhibitions and photography) with an emphasis on London’s rich history of immigration and present emphases on national security. We will study national and international policies and debates and meet with London organizations that work with refugees.