English  333 / Anthropology  399 F o l k l o r e   o f    t h e   A m e r i c a s
Fall 2006

Dr. Margaret R. Yocom,  Folklorist, Department of English
-- Co-coordinator, Folklore & Mythology Minor
-- Advisor, English Dept's Folklore, Myth. & Lit. Concentration
-- Co-director, Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Folklore Concentration
-- Director, N Virginia Folklife Archive, Rob A439

Office: Robinson A439   Phone: 993-1172
Mailbox: English Department, 487 Robinson
E-mail : myocom@gmu.edu
Home page: http://mason.gmu.edu/~myocom
Northern VA Folklife Archive: http://www.gmu.edu/folklore/nvfa
Classweb: http://classweb.gmu.edu/myocom (See this site for most recent syllabus)
Listserve on folklife activities at GMU and in DC area: GMUFOLK-L

    "Folklore," as Zora Neale Hurston wrote, "was the arts of the people before they knew there was such a thing as art." Though many folk performers today know that what they tell and sing and make is art, the study of folklore often invites us on a journey to uncover traditions we didn't know we had.
     Tales, legends, ballads, jokes, handmade objects, carnival--all these lived long before there was written literature.  Some have died off; some live today in the oral tradition, though they wear different livery; and others have newly appeared.  In this course, we'll develop ways of understanding what lies beneath the deceptively simple surface of traditional materials such as songs, stories, quilts, woodcarvings, and festivals.  Using theoretical perspectives from folklore study, literature, and anthropology, we'll consider why some traditions have lasted into the present and what their changes signify.  We'll ask what functions traditions serve in their societies, how gender influences both their content and their performance, and how people manipulate and invent traditions for their own ends.
     Once explored, folklore offers us tools to better understand ourselves and others as we seek to live together here on planet Earth.

 Required Texts:
Schoemaker, George.  The Emergence of Folklore in Everyday Life
Morgan, Kathryn.  Children of Strangers: The Stories of a Black Family
Myerhoff, Barbara.  Number My Days
Tangherlini, Timothy. Talking Trauma: A Candid Look at Paramedics Through Their Tradition of Tale-Telling
Santino, Jack.  Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life
Anaya, Rudolpho.  Bless Me, Ultima
Photocopied Booklet. Readings in ENGL 333 / ANTH 399
Diana Hacker, A Writer's Reference (latest edition), or another writer's guide.

For the most recent syllabus, please see my classweb site at <classweb.gmu.edu>