Folklore: Introduction and Terms


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Designed to give students the terms they will need to discuss folk tales and identity.

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Folklore: Introduction and Terms

  1. 1. What is folklore?First coined in 1846 by William John Toms, it is simply the lore (stories and cultural behaviors) shared by a particular folk (or group of people).
  2. 2. Folk or Folk GroupAny two or more people who share at least one significant cultural behavior in common. They often share traditions which create a shared identity among group members and help the group endure over time.Everyone belongs to at least a few folk groups; most people belong to many.The more cultural factors a folk group shares, the more traditions the will likely share. Catholic high school students who live in Miami and go to LaSalle and are juniors are likely to share more stories than Catholic college students in Michigan, etc.
  3. 3. Culture:Everything that humans do that isn’t motivated solely by natural instinct. Sleeping is natural—we do it by instinct. Sleeping with in a bed is cultural. Give another example of a cultural behavior.
  4. 4. NarrativeA story of any kind. Has plot and characters Different cultures have a different sense of story  What is an is not appropriate in that culture  Has a moral or lesson that is culturally appropriateTraditional Has continuity over time and through space
  5. 5. Variant:Any version of a folk/traditional narrative that is similar to another version of the same narrative. Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” Disney’s The Little Mermaid Creation stories
  6. 6. Orality:A quality of anything that is spoken, chanted, sung or read aloud rather than written down. Most folk tales begin as an oral traditional narrative.
  7. 7. Types of Lore/Traditional Culture Traditional narratives  epics, magic tales, legends, jokes, folk dramaTraditional costumes  Professional clothing, sports, uniforms, hairstylesTraditional beliefs  Religions, superstitions, ethical valuesTraditional non-narrative speech  Slang, jargon, nicknamesTraditional material culture  Architecture, folk artTraditional calendar customs  Holidays, festivals, birthday partiesTraditional music and dance  Folksongs and folk dances
  8. 8. Genres of Folk NarrativeEpic  A long narrative poem passed down from oral tradition. Usually tells the story of a great hero doing great deeds.  The Odyssey is an exampleLegend  A folk tale that is told as though the teller believes it is true. They often deal with the origins of things, phenomena, or names.  King ArthurUrban Legend  A legend told in or about modern society. They often express the concerns/anxieties of modern existence.  “Kentucky Fried Rat”
  9. 9. Genres ContinuedJoke  A short traditional narrative designed create laugher or a humorous response.  Three mathematicians were walking down to the railway station one day, deep in conversation about mathematics. They were so absorbed in what they were talking about that as they approached the station, they failed to hear the announcement that the train was about to leave. However they did notice when the train started to pull away from the platform. Alarmed, they started to run after the train, and eventually two of them managed to scramble on board. A station porter noticed the remaining man looking glum. "Never mind", he said, "Two out of three isnt bad." "But you dont understand," replied the mathematician, "they only came to see me off."Folk Drama  Drama performed with less formality than mainstream theater. It often involves audience participation.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show “floor show”Ballad  Any traditional song that recounts a narrative, usually structured around repetition.  “Scarborough Fair”
  10. 10. So…Name a folk group of which you are a part.What traditions do you share?What lore/traditional culture do you share?What is one folk tale from that group? What genre of folk tale is it?