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The Study of American Folklore: An…

The Study of American Folklore: An Introduction

by Jan Harold Brunvand

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This was one of three textbooks I'm reading in a graduate intro to folklore course, and it's by far the least favorite of the books among all the students in the class. The information is basic and presented dryly, primarily description of different types of folklore with some examples. There's little sense for the vitality of any of these traditions. We've all been bored and questioned why the professor didn't just stick with the other two main texts, Oring's anthology and Toelken's "Dynamics."

The last revision in the 1990s did not revise enough; the chapter on "superstitions" in particular is egregiously slanted to a scientific Western perspective, but there are other areas in which Brunvand's writing still smells of old scholarly romanticism for "dying" ways and "primitive" cultures. The coverage of customary and material traditions is unsatisfyingly minimal, selective, and descriptive rather than analytic. And, as a personal affront, the chapter on folk dance completely ignores (and denies the existence of some) other American folk dance traditions besides square dancing. ( )
  SusieBookworm | Oct 23, 2016 |
Brunvand is best known as the discoverer of urban legends ( )
  antiquary | Jun 14, 2010 |
A good basic introduction to the field of folklore studies, though definitely a textbook. Includes an overview of folklore and folklore in general, and then sections on different types of folklore, including less-commonly-discussed things such as gesture and cooking. Appendices in the back are several examples of academic papers on folklore topics, which, while somewhat out of date at this point, were a very interesting way of learning what professional folklorists actually do. ( )
  melannen | Aug 6, 2008 |
This textbook is a little dryer than some of Brunvand's work as he sketches the skeleton of the areas treated by folklorists. However, it is worth it to set the stage for reading more examples and debates about folklore. Recommended for those interested in theoretical bases for social studies. ( )
  chellerystick | Dec 20, 2007 |
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To Richard Mercer Dorson
from whom I received my own
introductin to American folklore
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Preface [to the third edition]
Since the publication of the first edition of this textbook in 1968, the study of folklore in the United States has advanced greatly.
I * Introduction
The Field of Folklore

What Is Folklore?
Folklore comprises the unrecorded traditions of a people; it includes both the form and content of these traditions and their style or technique of communication from person to person.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393972232, Hardcover)

The definitive introduction to American folklore.

Distinguished folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand, famous for his collections of 'urban legends,' offers readers a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the field of folklore. New to the fourth edition are 67 "Focus" boxes that provide in-depth examples of folk genres, research methods, and theoretical approaches, and over 70 photographs that illustrate material and performative folk traditions.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:11 -0400)

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Includes bibliographical references and index.

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