What is folklore? --it's a common question that most students have entering into our Introduction to Folklore class (English 333:Folklore and Folklife). When students come to the class with ideas of what folklore is, they often think Folklore has something to do with tradition (correct) or "old fashioned customs" (not so much). What typcially surprises students, however, is that folklore exists everywhere and an important part of their lives. Most importantly, folklore is NOT the opposite of modern socieity.
The Folklore Programs at GMU offers between 5-6 courses in folklore each academic year. At the moment we do not offer distance learning courses. If you plan to take a folklore course in the near future, here are a few things to consider:
Folklore is a distinct academic discipline that bridges the scholarship of anthropology and literature, so you will be reading books and articles that cover several disciplines. In a typical folklore course we will read 1-2 novels, several non-fiction texts (typicaly ethnographies and articles) and watch 2-3 films. You should expect the reading load in a typical folklore couse to be heavy, but also very intersting and engaging. You will read the equivalent of 5-6 books in the course of the semester.
My courses are engaging, but that doesn't mean you won't work hard. You will study things in folklore that you simply won't see in any other college course. For instance, in English 333 we will study conventional topics like family folklore and fairy tales, but also Sportslore, the folklore of athletics.
Folklore courses include lively and frequent student participation. In most courses, 15-20% of your grade will be based upon your level of engagement in and participation with course materials. Students are required to do an oral presentation, participate in storytelling sessions, compete in riddling contests, and occasionally dance. The participation grade is one of the most important aspects of the course because it allows students to engage the folkore topics we're reading about, and helps to bring those topics to life.
The written assignments in my folklore courses vary by topic and course number, but generally I assign either 4 short papers (about 5 pages each) or two short papers (about 5 pages each) and one longer term paper (8-10 pages). If you would like to see a sample of a folklore assignment, please feel free to contact me. In some courses I give mid-term exams and finals, in others students are evaluated with shorter exam questions.