Folklore and Folkloristics

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSOL2EN3414

Semester and Year Offered: MA I & II Year

Course Coordinator: Dr. Amit Singh

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

This course deals with the concepts, forms, histories, terms, etymology, methods, and theories that help in understanding the documented as well as lived lores of people. The course begins with an attempt to trace the origin and development of folklore as a discipline, and investigates various theories that helped in this process. Later modules deal with the generic osmosis between folklore and other streams of expression, like mythology, oral texts/ traditions, belief systems, rituals, fairs, festivals, pilgrimages, epics, and so on. Attempts will also be made to trace the intersections and interactions between folklore and nationalism, history and peoples’ movements, vernacular art forms, paintings, music, dance, fairytales and children’s literature. In other words, apart from investigating folklore as a discipline, this course also focuses on the “dialogues” between folklore and other genres of expression, like music, dance, performance/ art forms, cinema, literature, and so on.

This course aims to prepare students in understanding the nuances of folklore and folkloristics, both in India and internationally. It seeks to sensitize students towards the rich oeuvre of folklore that surrounds them and also that inspired many literatures. It consciously prepares students for research in the prospective areas related to folklore. This course attempts to provide students various avenues to interact with scholars and practitioners of folklore across the world.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate thorough understanding and knowledge of people and their “lores”, especially in the respective cultural contexts of the concerned students.
  2. Develop research related skills while understanding the nuances of field- based research.
  3. Show an ability to evolve multicultural competence through an investigation of different traditions and texts.
  4. Reflect critical and reflective thinking through the ability to analyze not only written but oral texts too.
  5. Illustrate commitments to lifelong learning necessary to understand and imbibe knowledge that is part of one’s growing up and which is significantly associated with the aspirations and values that shape us.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Concepts, Disciplinary Definitions, Thematic Concerns, and Other Tools to Understand Folklore:

This module attempts to introduce students to the fundamental ideas, key concepts, basic issues, nomenclature and pioneers of folklore and its study. Beginning with the origin, etymology, and various definitions of the term folklore, this module seeks to chart its connections with historical contexts through the contributions of the pioneers who contributed significantly in the growth and development of this discipline.

William Thoms’ “Folklore” in The Athenaeum

“The Forsaken Founder, William John Thoms: From Antiquities to Folklore” by Troy Boyer

Twenty Definitions of Folklore in Maria Leach’s The Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore

Alan Dundes’ “Who Are the Folk?” in Interpreting Folklore Dan Ben-Amos’ “The Idea of Folklore: An Essay” in Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, Volume I

Jorge Dias’ “The Quintessence of the Problem: Nomenclature and Subject Matter of

Folklore” in Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, Volume I

Dan Ben-Amos’s “Toward a Definition of Folklore in Context” in Folklore in Context: Essays

“Herder, Folklore and Romantic Nationalism” by William A.Wilson

“Once there were Two Brothers Named Grimm: A Reintroduction” by Jack Zipes

“Vladimir Propp: An Evaluation on his Seventieth Birthday” by Isidor Levin

Module 2: Methods and Theories:

This module deals with two important issues at hand: 1) To investigate the links between the challenges, especially in the context of 21st century, before folklore as a discipline and the need for establishing the “Grand Theory” of the discipline 2) To introduce the students to the changes in theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of folklore.

Alan Dundes’ “Folkloristics in the Twenty-First Century” in Grand Theory, Edited by

Lee Haring.

Dorothy Noyes’ “Humble Theory” in Humble Theory: Folklore’s Grasp on Social Life.

Chad Edward Buterbaugh’s “Reflections on Grand Theory, Graduate School, and

Intellectual Ballast” ” in Grand Theory, Edited by Lee Haring.

Mills, Margaret A. “What(’s) Theory?” in Grand Theory, Edited by Lee Haring.

Noyes, Dorothy. “Compromised Concepts in Rising Waters: Making the Folk Resilient”

in Humble Theory: Folklore’s Grasp on Social Life.

Andrew Lang’s “The Method of Folklore” in Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and

Cultural Studies, Volume IV, Edited by Alan Dundes.

“Method and Interpretation in the Study of Folklore in India: A Comment” in Essays in Indian Folk Traditions

“Poetics and Genre: Typology in Indian Folklore” in Essays in Indian Folk Traditions Claude Lévi-Strauss’ “The Structural Study of Myth” in Myth: A Symposium Selections from Albert Lord’s The Singer of Tales

“Why and how do We Collect Folk Music?” by Bela Bartok in Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, Volume IV “Part I” in In Quest of Indian Folktales by Sadhna Naithani

Robert Wildhaber’s “Folk Atlas Mapping” in Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, Volume IV

Alan Dundes’ “The Devolutionary Premise in Folklore Theory” Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, Volume IV Selections from Stith-Thompson’s Motif Index

Selections from Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale Vladimir Propp’s. Theory and History of Folklore, Translated by Ariadana Martin and Richard P. Martin.

Module 3: Genres of Folklore

This module attempts to understand select genres of folklore, both in terms of its subject matter as well as associated theories. Apart from the texts/ genres prescribed in this module, students would be encouraged to explicate the genres of folklore that they are acquainted with, i.e. their own folkloric traditions that have been the part of their growing up, socialization, and in many ways education.

Folk Epics: The Legend of Ponnivala or The Epic of Pabuji.

Legends- The Legend of Laila and Majnu or Heer and Ranjha

Folktales- Selections from Sadhna Naithani’s In Quest of Indian Folktales or A. K.

Ramanujan’s A Flowering Tree & Other Oral Tales from India. Riddles- Select Riddles of Amir Khusro.

Suggested Readings for this module:

A. K. Ramanujan’s A Flowering Tree & Other Oral Tales from India.

“Amir Khusro and Indian Riddle Tradition” in Essays in Indian Folk Traditions, Edited by Kiran Hall.

Dan Ben-Amos’ “Analytical Categories and Ethnic Genres” in Folklore Genres.

Elliott Oring’s Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: A Reader.

Grimm Brothers’ The Complete Grimms’ Fairy Tales. K. P. Bahadur’s Folk Tales of UP.

Mazhrul Islam’s Folklore: The Pulse of the People of India. Richard Bauman’s “Genre” in Folklore, Cultural Performances, and Popular Entertainments: A Communications-centered Handbook. Stith Thompson’s The Folktale.

Module 4: Student Projects:

This exclusively student-centric module expects from them to work on an approved topic/ genre/ area of their choice and present a detailed report of their work towards the end of the semester. Students will be encouraged to investigate the folkloric traditions of their own region and background. Although they would be expected to come up with a working bibliography in consultation with the course instructor, yet it is expected that they will be acquainted with required readings through the long list provided in their course outline.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Response Paper: 15%
  • Class Presentations: 25%
  • Mid-Term Examination: 20%
  • Project Report: 40%

The pattern of assessment is subject to revision depending on the composition and size of the class.

Reading List:

Aarne, Arti and Stith Thompson. Types of the Folktale. Translated and Enlarged by Stith Thompson. Academia Scientium Fennica, 1961.

Agarwal, Vasudeva. Ancient Indian Folk Cults. Varanasi: Prithvi Prakashan, 1970.

Bahadur, K. P. Folk Tales of U. P. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers (P) Ltd., 1972.

Banerji, Suresh Chandra. Folklore in Ancient and Medieval India. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1991.

Bascom, William R. Contributions to Folkloristics. Meerut: Folklore Institute, 1981.

Bauman, Richard. “Differential Identity and the Social Base of Folklore”. In Toward New Perspectives in Folklore. Eds. Americo Paredes and Richard Bauman. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972.
---. “Genre”. In Folklore, Cultural Performances, and Popular Entertainments: A Communications-centered Handbook. Ed. Richard Bauman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

---. Ed. Folklore, Cultural Performances, and Popular Entertainments: A

Communications-Centered Handbook. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ben-Amos, Dan. “Analytical Categories and Ethnic Genres”. In Folklore Genres, Ed.

Dan Ben-Amos. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976.
---. Folklore in Context. New Delhi: South Asian Publishers, 1982.

Bendix, Regina. 1997. In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Bhagwat, Durga. An Outline of Indian Folklore. Bombay: Popular Book Depot, 1958.

Bronner, Simon. Following Tradition: Folklore in the Discourse of American Culture.

Logan: Utah State University Press, 1998.

Brunvand, Jan. The Study of American Folklore, 1-11. New York: Norton, 1978.
Calvino, Italo. Italian Folktales. London: Penguin Modern Classics, 2002.

Chakravartty, Dharitri Narzary and Surjit Sarkar. Eds. Objects, Identities, Meanings. New Delhi: Ambedkar University Delhi, 2015.

Charsley, Simon and Laxmi Narayan Kadekar. Ed. Performers and Their Arts. New Delhi and London: Routledge, 2006.

Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. New York and London: W.W. Norton and Co., 1996.

Dorson, Richard. “Is There a Folk in the City?”. In The Urban Experience and Folk Tradition. Eds. Americo Paredes and Ellen Stekert. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971.

---. “Concepts of Folklore and Folklife Studies”. In Folklore and Folklife: An Introduction. Ed. Richard Dorson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.
---. Ed. Folklore and Folklife: An Introduction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1972.

Dundes, Alan. “Who Are the Folk?” In Interpreting Folklore. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980.
---. Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. 4 Volumes. Oxon: Routledge, 2005.

---. Interpreting Folklore. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980.

---. The Study of Folklore. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1965.

Goody, Jack. “Alternative Paths to Knowledge in Oral and Literate Cultures”. In Spoken and Written Language. Ed. Deborah Tannen. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1982.

Foley, John Miles. The Singer of Tales in Performance. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995.

---. How to Read an Oral Poem. Illinois: OUP, 2002. Georges, Robert and Michael Owen Jones. Folkloristics: An Introduction.

Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.Goswami, Indira and Prakash Pattanaik. ed. Indian Folklore. Delhi: B. R. Publishing Corporation, 2001.

Gupta, Sri Sankar Sen. Women in Indian Folklore. Calcutta: Indian Publications, 1969.

Hall, Kiran. Essays in Indian Folk Traditions: Collected Writings of Ved Prakash Vatuk.Meerut:

Handoo, Jawaharlal. Current Trends in Folklore. Mysore: Institute of Kannada Studies, 1978.

--- Folklore in Modern India. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages, 1998.

Hiltebeitel, Alf. Rethinking India’s Oral and Classical Epics. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Zora Neale. Mules and Men. New York: Harper Perennial, 1995.

Jakobson, Roman. “Linguistics and Poetics”. In Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader. Ed. David Lodge. New York: Longman, 1988.

Claude. “The Structural Study of Myth”. In Myth: A Symposium. Ed. Thomas Sebeok. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955.

Lord, Albert B. The Singer of Tales. Ed. Stephen Mitchell and Gregory Nagy.Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Luttin, Max. The European Folktale: Form and Nature. Trans. John D. Niles.Philadelphia: ISHI, 1982.

Oring, Elliott. Ed. Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: A Reader. Logan: Utah State

University Press, 1989.

Paheli. Dir. Amol Palekar. Perf. Rani Mukherji, Shahrukh Khan. Red Chillies Entertainment. 2005.

Preston, Cathy. Folklore, Literature, and Cultural Theory: Collected Essays, 1995.

Propp, V. Morphology of the Folktale. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984.

---. “The Principles of Classifying Folklore Genres”. In Theory and History of Folklore.

Tr. Ariadna Martin and Richard Martin. Ed. Anatoly Liberman. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

Ramanujan, A. K. A Flowering Tree and Other Oral Tales from India. New Delhi:

Penguin Books India (P) Ltd., 1997.

---. ‘Towards a Counter System: Women’s Tales.’ Gender, Genre and Power in South

Asian Expressive Traditions. Ed.Arjun Appadurai, et al. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991.

---. ‘Who Needs Folklore?’ The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan. Ed. Vinay

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

---. Ed. Bharat ki Lok Kathain. Trans. Kailash Kabir. New Delhi: NBT, 2001.

Reddy, P. Chenna and M. Sarat Babu. Folklore in the New Millenium. New Delhi: Research India Press, 2004.

Sims, Martha and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. 2005.

Smith, John D. The Epic of Pabuji. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Teesri Kasam. Dir. Basu Bhattacharya. Perf. Raj Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman. Image Makers, 1966.

Thompson, Stith. The Folktale. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964.

---. Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955.

Thoms, William. “Folklore”. The Athenaeum 982: 862-863. Reprinted in The Study of Folklore. Ed. Alan Dundes. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- Hall, 1965.
Toelken, Barre. 1979. The Dynamics of Folklore. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
University of Texas Press.
Vatuk, Ved Prakash. Studies in Indian Folk Traditions. New Delhi: Manohar, 1979.