Folklore TheoryAn Overview of Methodsof Analysis and EthnographyPresented by Victoria Harkavy
Tale and Motif Type"Have a behavioral basis in...human beingsneed...to generate and respond conceptually tomemorable experiences and events" (Georges, 206)"Content-based classification schemes...mirror theways human beings conceptualize the stories theytell each other" (207)
Tale and Motif Type cont.A tale type is "a specific binding together of motifs" thatis distinctive from other tale types, and can bemanifested in multiple tales.A motif is "the smallest element of a tale having thepower to persist in tradition."(Dundes, after Thompson and Honti, 195-6)
Historical-Geographicaka The Finnish SchoolScholars attempt to find as many examples of agiven tale type as possibleBased on date of recording and statistics ofoccurrence of certain terms, scholars posit an Ur-text and routes of transmission
HistoricalReconstructionalThe school favored bythe GrimmsTheorizes that currentfolk practice can revealinformation about pastpractice and vice versa.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_Grimm
IdeologicalDorson largely equatesideological folklore tonationalist folklore.Largely inspired by HerdersRomantic Nationalism,folklorists search for the"soul of the people"http://tartan.wsu.edu/what-is-a-tartan.html
FunctionalScholars investigate how folklore maintains socialinstitutionsFolklore can provide precedents for decisions, asanctioned space for dissent, and reinforcement ofimportant taboos and responsibilities.http://www.bloggingtips.com/2007/10/25/whats-your-story-storytelling-is-powerful-blogging/
Psycho-analyticalScholars use thetheories of Freud andJung to interpret folkliteratureTales and myths aretreated as expressions ofthe unconscious mindStrong tendency to seesexual imagery withintextshttp://loomings-jay.blogspot.com/2010/10/sigmund-freud.html
StructuralVladimir Propp is considered the founder of this method ofanalysis.Characterizes tale types by the actions, or functions of thecharacters, not by the form the characters take.Levi-Strauss theorized that "myths" are based aroundopposing dualities and mirror the logical structure founduniversally within the human mind.
Oral-FormulaicBased on Lord and Parry’s work withGuslars, Serbian bards, Oral-Formulaictheory sees folk literature as workscombining tradition and invention. Aperformer may draw on and recombinetraditional motifs and plot lines to createas he performs.http://babamim.com/role_of_the_gusle_guslar
Cross-CulturalThe Cross-Cultural folklorist may look to folklore forsurvivals of primitive beliefs that link cultures to commonorigins or intrinsic human thought patterns/experiencesSome folklorists, such as Alan Lomax, see folklore as partof a taxonomy of cultures, seeing connections betweentypes of social structures and the folklore they generallyproduce.
Folk-CulturalThis may be seen as the movement toward “Folklife” ratherthan “Folklore”Folk-Cultural scholars see lore (folk literature) as anintegrated part of a culture that also includes rituals, danceand music, methods of production, and family and socialstructureThe totality of folklife is necessary for insight into folkloreand vice versa.
Mass-CulturalDorson describes the Mass-Cultural folklorist as “enlist[ing]psychological concepts of child development, sociological concepts ofsmall group behavior, ethnomusicological concepts of music as socialexpression, literary concepts of folklore as rhetorical discourse, andfolkloric concepts of the oikotype or regional genres.” The Mass-Cultural folklorist is interested the contemporary community and looksfor continuity and change from past to present, rather than thepreservation of relics and archaisms.
ContextualSome scholars argue that afolklore text cannot beunderstood outside the contextof its performance. Knowing theoccasion, the audience, thevenue, and other aspects of theperformance are critical becausethe storyteller is influenced by allof these things in crafting theirtext.http://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-textiles-spinning-wheel-granger.html
Dorson, Richard. 1972. Introduction: concepts of folklore and folklifestudies. In Folklore and folklife: an introduction, ed. R. Dorson.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Dundes, Alan. The Motif-Index and the Tale Type Index: a critique.Journal of Folklore Research 34, 3: 195-202.Georges, Robert A. The centrality in folkloristics of motif and tale type.Journal of Folklore Research 34, 3: 203-208.Propp, Vladimir. 1968. Morphology of the folktale. 2nd ed. Translatedby Laurence Scott. Revised and Edited by Louis A. Wagner.Austin: University of Texas Press.Reference List