Folklore

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For other uses, see Folklore (disambiguation). Folklore_sentence_0

Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. Folklore_sentence_1

These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. Folklore_sentence_2

They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore_sentence_3

Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Folklore_sentence_4

Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Folklore_sentence_5

Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore_sentence_6

Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Folklore_sentence_7

Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. Folklore_sentence_8

The academic study of folklore is called folklore studies or folkloristics, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels. Folklore_sentence_9

Overview Folklore_section_0

The word folklore, a compound of folk and lore, was coined in 1846 by the Englishman William Thoms, who contrived the term as a replacement for the contemporary terminology of "popular antiquities" or "popular literature". Folklore_sentence_10

The second half of the word, , comes from Old English lār 'instruction'. Folklore_sentence_11

It is the knowledge and traditions of a particular group, frequently passed along by word of mouth. Folklore_sentence_12

The concept of has varied over time. Folklore_sentence_13

When Thoms first created this term, folk applied only to rural, frequently poor and illiterate peasants. Folklore_sentence_14

A more modern definition of folk is a social group that includes two or more persons with common traits, who express their shared identity through distinctive traditions. Folklore_sentence_15

"Folk is a flexible concept which can refer to a nation as in American folklore or to a single family." Folklore_sentence_16

This expanded social definition of folk supports a broader view of the material, i.e. the lore, considered to be folklore artifacts. Folklore_sentence_17

These now include all "things people make with words (verbal lore), things they make with their hands (material lore), and things they make with their actions (customary lore)". Folklore_sentence_18

Folklore is no longer considered to be limited to that which is old or obsolete. Folklore_sentence_19

The folklorist studies the traditional artifacts of a social group and how they are transmitted. Folklore_sentence_20

Transmission is a vital part of the folklore process; without communicating these beliefs and customs within the group over space and time, they would be relegated to cultural archaeologists. Folklore_sentence_21

These folk artifacts continue to be passed along informally, as a rule anonymously, and always in multiple variants. Folklore_sentence_22

The folk group is not individualistic, it is community-based and nurtures its lore in community. Folklore_sentence_23

"As new groups emerge, new folklore is created… surfers, motorcyclists, computer programmers". Folklore_sentence_24

In direct contrast to high culture, where any single work of a named artist is protected by copyright law, folklore is a function of shared identity within a common social group. Folklore_sentence_25

Having identified folk artifacts, the professional folklorist strives to understand the significance of these beliefs, customs, and objects for the group, since these cultural units would not be passed along unless they had some continued relevance within the group. Folklore_sentence_26

That meaning can however shift and morph, for example: the Halloween celebration of the 21st century is not the All Hallows' Eve of the Middle Ages, and even gives rise to its own set of urban legends independent of the historical celebration; the cleansing rituals of Orthodox Judaism were originally good public health in a land with little water, but now these customs signify for some people identification as an Orthodox Jew. Folklore_sentence_27

By comparison, a common action such as tooth brushing, which is also transmitted within a group, remains a practical hygiene and health issue and does not rise to the level of a group-defining tradition. Folklore_sentence_28

Tradition is initially remembered behavior; once it loses its practical purpose, there is no reason for further transmission unless it has been imbued with meaning beyond the initial practicality of the action. Folklore_sentence_29

This meaning is at the core of folkloristics, the study of folklore. Folklore_sentence_30

With an increasingly theoretical sophistication of the social sciences, it has become evident that folklore is a naturally occurring and necessary component of any social group; it is indeed all around us. Folklore_sentence_31

Folklore does not have to be old or antiquated, it continues to be created and transmitted, and in any group it is used to differentiate between "us" and "them". Folklore_sentence_32

Origin and development of folklore studies Folklore_section_1

Main article: History of folklore studies Folklore_sentence_33

Folklore began to distinguish itself as an autonomous discipline during the period of romantic nationalism in Europe. Folklore_sentence_34

A particular figure in this development was Johann Gottfried von Herder, whose writings in the 1770s presented oral traditions as organic processes grounded in locale. Folklore_sentence_35

After the German states were invaded by Napoleonic France, Herder's approach was adopted by many of his fellow Germans who systematized the recorded folk traditions and used them in their process of nation building. Folklore_sentence_36

This process was enthusiastically embraced by smaller nations like Finland, Estonia, and Hungary, which were seeking political independence from their dominant neighbours. Folklore_sentence_37

Folklore as a field of study further developed among 19th century European scholars who were contrasting tradition with the newly developing modernity. Folklore_sentence_38

Its focus was the oral folklore of the rural peasant populations, which were considered as residue and survivals of the past that continued to exist within the lower strata of society. Folklore_sentence_39

The "Kinder- und Hausmärchen" of the Brothers Grimm (first published 1812) is the best known but by no means only collection of verbal folklore of the European peasantry of that time. Folklore_sentence_40

This interest in stories, sayings and songs continued throughout the 19th century and aligned the fledgling discipline of folkloristics with literature and mythology. Folklore_sentence_41

By the turn into the 20th century the number and sophistication of folklore studies and folklorists had grown both in Europe and North America. Folklore_sentence_42

Whereas European folklorists remained focused on the oral folklore of the homogenous peasant populations in their regions, the American folklorists, led by Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, chose to consider Native American cultures in their research, and included the totality of their customs and beliefs as folklore. Folklore_sentence_43

This distinction aligned American folkloristics with cultural anthropology and ethnology, using the same techniques of data collection in their field research. Folklore_sentence_44

This divided alliance of folkloristics between the humanities in Europe and the social sciences in America offers a wealth of theoretical vantage points and research tools to the field of folkloristics as a whole, even as it continues to be a point of discussion within the field itself. Folklore_sentence_45

The term folkloristics, along with the alternative name folklore studies, became widely used in the 1950s to distinguish the academic study of traditional culture from the folklore artifacts themselves. Folklore_sentence_46

When the American Folklife Preservation Act (Public Law 94-201) was passed by the U.S. Congress in January 1976, to coincide with the Bicentennial Celebration, folkloristics in the United States came of age. Folklore_sentence_47

Added to the extensive array of other legislation designed to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the United States, this law also marks a shift in national awareness. Folklore_sentence_48

It gives voice to a growing understanding that cultural diversity is a national strength and a resource worthy of protection. Folklore_sentence_49

Paradoxically, it is a unifying feature, not something that separates the citizens of a country. Folklore_sentence_50

"We no longer view cultural difference as a problem to be solved, but as a tremendous opportunity. Folklore_sentence_51

In the diversity of American folklife we find a marketplace teeming with the exchange of traditional forms and cultural ideas, a rich resource for Americans". Folklore_sentence_52

This diversity is celebrated annually at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and many other folklife fests around the country. Folklore_sentence_53

Definition of "folk" Folklore_section_2

The folk of the 19th century, the social group identified in the original term "folklore", was characterized by being rural, illiterate and poor. Folklore_sentence_54

They were the peasants living in the countryside, in contrast to the urban populace of the cities. Folklore_sentence_55

Only toward the end of the century did the urban proletariat (on the coattails of Marxist theory) become included with the rural poor as folk. Folklore_sentence_56

The common feature in this expanded definition of folk was their identification as the underclass of society. Folklore_sentence_57

Moving forward into the 20th century, in tandem with new thinking in the social sciences, folklorists also revised and expanded their concept of the folk group. Folklore_sentence_58

By the 1960s it was understood that social groups, i.e. folk groups, were all around us; each individual is enmeshed in a multitude of differing identities and their concomitant social groups. Folklore_sentence_59

The first group that each of us is born into is the family, and each family has its own unique family folklore. Folklore_sentence_60

As a child grows into an individual, its identities also increase to include age, language, ethnicity, occupation, etc. Each of these cohorts has its own folklore, and as one folklorist points out, this is "not idle speculation… Decades of fieldwork have demonstrated conclusively that these groups do have their own folklore." Folklore_sentence_61

In this modern understanding, folklore is a function of shared identity within any social group. Folklore_sentence_62

This folklore can include jokes, sayings and expected behavior in multiple variants, always transmitted in an informal manner. Folklore_sentence_63

For the most part it will be learned by observation, imitation, repetition or correction by other group members. Folklore_sentence_64

This informal knowledge is used to confirm and re-inforce the identity of the group. Folklore_sentence_65

It can be used both internally within the group to express their common identity, for example in an initiation ceremony for new members. Folklore_sentence_66

Or it can be used externally to differentiate the group from outsiders, like a folkdance demonstration at a community festival. Folklore_sentence_67

Significant to folklorists here is that there are two opposing but equally valid ways to use this in the study of a group: you can start with an identified group in order to explore its folklore, or you can identify folklore items and use them to identify the social group. Folklore_sentence_68

Beginning in the 1960s, a further expansion of the concept of folk began to unfold through the study of folklore. Folklore_sentence_69

Individual researchers identified folk groups that had previously been overlooked and ignored. Folklore_sentence_70

One notable example of this is found in an issue of the Journal of American Folklore, published in 1975, which is dedicated exclusively to articles on women's folklore, with approaches that had not come from a man's perspective. Folklore_sentence_71

Other groups that were highlighted as part of this broadened understanding of the folk group were non-traditional families, occupational groups, and families that pursued the production of folk items over multiple generations. Folklore_sentence_72

Folklore genres Folklore_section_3

Individual folklore artifacts are commonly classified as one of three types: material, verbal or customary lore. Folklore_sentence_73

For the most part self-explanatory, these categories include physical objects (material folklore), common sayings, expressions, stories and songs (verbal folklore), and beliefs and ways of doing things (customary folklore). Folklore_sentence_74

There is also a fourth major subgenre defined for children's folklore and games (childlore), as the collection and interpretation of this fertile topic is peculiar to school yards and neighborhood streets. Folklore_sentence_75

Each of these genres and their subtypes is intended to organize and categorize the folklore artifacts; they provide common vocabulary and consistent labeling for folklorists to communicate with each other. Folklore_sentence_76

That said, each artifact is unique; in fact one of the characteristics of all folklore artifacts is their variation within genres and types. Folklore_sentence_77

This is in direct contrast to manufactured goods, where the goal in production is to create identical products and any variations are considered mistakes. Folklore_sentence_78

It is however just this required variation that makes identification and classification of the defining features a challenge. Folklore_sentence_79

And while this classification is essential for the subject area of folkloristics, it remains just labeling, and adds little to an understanding of the traditional development and meaning of the artifacts themselves. Folklore_sentence_80

Necessary as they are, genre classifications are misleading in their oversimplification of the subject area. Folklore_sentence_81

Folklore artifacts are never self-contained, they do not stand in isolation but are particulars in the self-representation of a community. Folklore_sentence_82

Different genres are frequently combined with each other to mark an event. Folklore_sentence_83

So a birthday celebration might include a song or formulaic way of greeting the birthday child (verbal), presentation of a cake and wrapped presents (material), as well as customs to honor the individual, such as sitting at the head of the table, and blowing out the candles with a wish. Folklore_sentence_84

There might also be special games played at birthday parties which are not generally played at other times. Folklore_sentence_85

Adding to the complexity of the interpretation, the birthday party for a seven-year-old will not be identical to the birthday party for that same child as a six-year-old, even though they follow the same model. Folklore_sentence_86

For each artifact embodies a single variant of a performance in a given time and space. Folklore_sentence_87

The task of the folklorist becomes to identify within this surfeit of variables the constants and the expressed meaning that shimmer through all variations: honoring of the individual within the circle of family and friends, gifting to express their value and worth to the group, and of course, the festival food and drink as signifiers of the event. Folklore_sentence_88

Verbal tradition Folklore_section_4

The formal definition of verbal lore is words, both written and oral, that are "spoken, sung, voiced forms of traditional utterance that show repetitive patterns." Folklore_sentence_89

Crucial here are the repetitive patterns. Folklore_sentence_90

Verbal lore is not just any conversation, but words and phrases conforming to a traditional configuration recognized by both the speaker and the audience. Folklore_sentence_91

For narrative types by definition have consistent structure, and follow an existing model in their narrative form. Folklore_sentence_92

As just one simple example, in English the phrase "An elephant walks into a bar…" instantaneously flags the following text as a joke. Folklore_sentence_93

It might be one you've already heard, but it might be one that the speaker has just thought up within the current context. Folklore_sentence_94

Another example is the child's song Old MacDonald Had a Farm, where each performance is distinctive in the animals named, their order and their sounds. Folklore_sentence_95

Songs such as this are used to express cultural values (farms are important, farmers are old and weather-beaten) and teach children about different domesticated animals. Folklore_sentence_96

Verbal folklore was the original folklore, the artifacts defined by William Thoms as older, oral cultural traditions of the rural populace. Folklore_sentence_97

In his 1846 published call for help in documenting antiquities, Thoms was echoing scholars from across the European continent to collect artifacts of verbal lore. Folklore_sentence_98

By the beginning of the 20th century these collections had grown to include artifacts from around the world and across several centuries. Folklore_sentence_99

A system to organize and categorize them became necessary. Folklore_sentence_100

Antti Aarne published a first classification system for folktales in 1910. Folklore_sentence_101

This was later expanded into the Aarne–Thompson classification system by Stith Thompson and remains the standard classification system for European folktales and other types of oral literature. Folklore_sentence_102

As the number of classified oral artifacts grew, similarities were noted in items that had been collected from very different geographic regions, ethnic groups and epochs, giving rise to the Historic–Geographic Method, a methodology that dominated folkloristics in the first half of the 20th century. Folklore_sentence_103

When William Thoms first published his appeal to document the verbal lore of the rural populations, it was believed these folk artifacts would die out as the population became literate. Folklore_sentence_104

Over the past two centuries this belief has proven to be wrong; folklorists continue to collect verbal lore in both written and spoken form from all social groups. Folklore_sentence_105

Some variants might have been captured in published collections, but much of it is still transmitted orally and indeed continues to be generated in new forms and variants at an alarming rate. Folklore_sentence_106

Below is listed a small sampling of types and examples of verbal lore. Folklore_sentence_107

Material culture Folklore_section_5

The genre of material culture includes all artifacts that can be touched, held, lived in, or eaten. Folklore_sentence_108

They are tangible objects with a physical presence, either intended for permanent use or to be used at the next meal. Folklore_sentence_109

Most of these folklore artifacts are single objects that have been created by hand for a specific purpose; however, folk artifacts can also be mass-produced, such as dreidels or Christmas decorations. Folklore_sentence_110

These items continue to be considered folklore because of their long (pre-industrial) history and their customary use. Folklore_sentence_111

All of these material objects "existed prior to and continue alongside mechanized industry. Folklore_sentence_112

… [They are] transmitted across the generations and subject to the same forces of conservative tradition and individual variation" that are found in all folk artifacts. Folklore_sentence_113

Folklorists are interested in the physical form, the method of manufacture or construction, the pattern of use, as well as the procurement of the raw materials. Folklore_sentence_114

The meaning to those who both make and use these objects is important. Folklore_sentence_115

Of primary significance in these studies is the complex balance of continuity over change in both their design and their decoration. Folklore_sentence_116

In Europe, prior to the Industrial Revolution, everything was made by hand. Folklore_sentence_117

While some folklorists of the 19th century wanted to secure the oral traditions of the rural folk before the populace became literate, other folklorists sought to identify hand-crafted objects before their production processes were lost to industrial manufacturing. Folklore_sentence_118

Just as verbal lore continues to be actively created and transmitted in today's culture, so these handicrafts can still be found all around us, with possibly a shift in purpose and meaning. Folklore_sentence_119

There are many reasons for continuing to handmake objects for use, for example these skills may be needed to repair manufactured items, or a unique design might be required which is not (or cannot be) found in the stores. Folklore_sentence_120

Many crafts are considered as simple home maintenance, such as cooking, sewing and carpentry. Folklore_sentence_121

For many people, handicrafts have also become an enjoyable and satisfying hobby. Folklore_sentence_122

Handmade objects are often regarded as prestigious, where extra time and thought is spent in their creation and their uniqueness is valued. Folklore_sentence_123

For the folklorist, these hand-crafted objects embody multifaceted relationships in the lives of the craftsmen and the users, a concept that has been lost with mass-produced items that have no connection to an individual craftsman. Folklore_sentence_124

Many traditional crafts, such as ironworking and glass-making, have been elevated to the fine or applied arts and taught in art schools; or they have been repurposed as folk art, characterized as objects whose decorative form supersedes their utilitarian needs. Folklore_sentence_125

Folk art is found in hex signs on Pennsylvania Dutch barns, tin man sculptures made by metalworkers, front yard Christmas displays, decorated school lockers, carved gun stocks, and tattoos. Folklore_sentence_126

"Words such as naive, self-taught, and individualistic are used to describe these objects, and the exceptional rather than the representative creation is featured." Folklore_sentence_127

This is in contrast to the understanding of folklore artifacts that are nurtured and passed along within a community. Folklore_sentence_128

Many objects of material folklore are challenging to classify, difficult to archive, and unwieldy to store. Folklore_sentence_129

The assigned task of museums is to preserve and make use of these bulky artifacts of material culture. Folklore_sentence_130

To this end, the concept of the living museum has developed, beginning in Scandinavia at the end of the 19th century. Folklore_sentence_131

These open-air museums not only display the artifacts, but also teach visitors how the items were used, with actors reenacting the everyday lives of people from all segments of society, relying heavily on the material artifacts of a pre-industrial society. Folklore_sentence_132

Many locations even duplicate the processing of the objects, thus creating new objects of an earlier historic time period. Folklore_sentence_133

Living museums are now found throughout the world as part of a thriving heritage industry. Folklore_sentence_134

This list represents just a small sampling of objects and skills that are included in studies of material culture. Folklore_sentence_135

Customs Folklore_section_6

Customary culture is remembered enactment, i.e. re-enactment. Folklore_sentence_136

It is the patterns of expected behavior within a group, the "traditional and expected way of doing things" A custom can be a single gesture, such as thumbs down or a handshake. Folklore_sentence_137

It can also be a complex interaction of multiple folk customs and artifacts as seen in a child's birthday party, including verbal lore (Happy Birthday song), material lore (presents and a birthday cake), special games (Musical chairs) and individual customs (making a wish as you blow out the candles). Folklore_sentence_138

Each of these is a folklore artifact in its own right, potentially worthy of investigation and cultural analysis. Folklore_sentence_139

Together they combine to build the custom of a birthday party celebration, a scripted combination of multiple artifacts which have meaning within their social group. Folklore_sentence_140

Folklorists divide customs into several different categories. Folklore_sentence_141

A custom can be a seasonal celebration, such as Thanksgiving or New Year's. Folklore_sentence_142

It can be a life cycle celebration for an individual, such as baptism, birthday or wedding. Folklore_sentence_143

A custom can also mark a community festival or event; examples of this are Carnival in Cologne or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Folklore_sentence_144

This category also includes the Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrated each summer on the Mall in Washington, DC. Folklore_sentence_145

A fourth category includes customs related to folk beliefs. Folklore_sentence_146

Walking under a ladder is just one of many symbols considered unlucky. Folklore_sentence_147

Occupational groups tend to have a rich history of customs related to their life and work, so the traditions of sailors or lumberjacks. Folklore_sentence_148

The area of ecclesiastical folklore, which includes modes of worship not sanctioned by the established church tends to be so large and complex that it is usually treated as a specialized area of folk customs; it requires considerable expertise in standard church ritual in order to adequately interpret folk customs and beliefs that originated in official church practice. Folklore_sentence_149

Customary folklore is always a performance, be it a single gesture or a complex of scripted customs, and participating in the custom, either as performer or audience, signifies acknowledgment of that social group. Folklore_sentence_150

Some customary behavior is intended to be performed and understood only within the group itself, so the handkerchief code sometimes used in the gay community or the initiation rituals of the Freemasons. Folklore_sentence_151

Other customs are designed specifically to represent a social group to outsiders, those who do not belong to this group. Folklore_sentence_152

The St. Folklore_sentence_153 Patrick's Day Parade in New York and in other communities across the continent is a single example of an ethnic group parading their separateness (differential behavior), and encouraging Americans of all stripes to show alliance to this colorful ethnic group. Folklore_sentence_154

These festivals and parades, with a target audience of people who do not belong to the social group, intersect with the interests and mission of public folklorists, who are engaged in the documentation, preservation, and presentation of traditional forms of folklife. Folklore_sentence_155

With a swell in popular interest in folk traditions, these community celebrations are becoming more numerous throughout the western world. Folklore_sentence_156

While ostensibly parading the diversity of their community, economic groups have discovered that these folk parades and festivals are good for business. Folklore_sentence_157

All shades of people are out on the streets, eating, drinking and spending. Folklore_sentence_158

This attracts support not only from the business community, but also from federal and state organizations for these local street parties. Folklore_sentence_159

Paradoxically, in parading diversity within the community, these events have come to authenticate true community, where business interests ally with the varied (folk) social groups to promote the interests of the community as a whole. Folklore_sentence_160

This is just a small sampling of types and examples of customary lore. Folklore_sentence_161

Childlore and games Folklore_section_7

Childlore is a distinct branch of folklore that deals with activities passed on by children to other children, away from the influence or supervision of an adult. Folklore_sentence_162

Children's folklore contains artifacts from all the standard folklore genres of verbal, material, and customary lore; it is however the child-to-child conduit that distinguishes these artifacts. Folklore_sentence_163

For childhood is a social group where children teach, learn and share their own traditions, flourishing in a street culture outside the purview of adults. Folklore_sentence_164

This is also ideal where it needs to be collected; as Iona and Peter Opie demonstrated in their pioneering book Children's Games in Street and Playground. Folklore_sentence_165

Here the social group of children is studied on its own terms, not as a derivative of adult social groups. Folklore_sentence_166

It is shown that the culture of children is quite distinctive; it is generally unnoticed by the sophisticated world of adults, and quite as little affected by it. Folklore_sentence_167

Of particular interest to folklorists here is the mode of transmission of these artifacts; this lore circulates exclusively within an informal pre-literate children's network or folk group. Folklore_sentence_168

It does not include artifacts taught to children by adults. Folklore_sentence_169

However children can take the taught and teach it further to other children, turning it into childlore. Folklore_sentence_170

Or they can take the artifacts and turn them into something else; so Old McDonald's farm is transformed from animal noises to the scatological version of animal poop. Folklore_sentence_171

This childlore is characterized by "its lack of dependence on literary and fixed form. Folklore_sentence_172

Children…operate among themselves in a world of informal and oral communication, unimpeded by the necessity of maintaining and transmitting information by written means. Folklore_sentence_173

This is as close as folklorists can come to observing the transmission and social function of this folk knowledge before the spread of literacy during the 19th century. Folklore_sentence_174

As we have seen with the other genres, the original collections of children's lore and games in the 19th century was driven by a fear that the culture of childhood would die out. Folklore_sentence_175

Early folklorists, among them Alice Gomme in Britain and William Wells Newell in the United States, felt a need to capture the unstructured and unsupervised street life and activities of children before it was lost. Folklore_sentence_176

This fear proved to be unfounded. Folklore_sentence_177

In a comparison of any modern school playground during recess and the painting of "Children's Games" by Pieter Breugel the Elder we can see that the activity level is similar, and many of the games from the 1560 painting are recognizable and comparable to modern variations still played today. Folklore_sentence_178

These same artifacts of childlore, in innumerable variations, also continue to serve the same function of learning and practicing skills needed for growth. Folklore_sentence_179

So bouncing and swinging rhythms and rhymes encourage development of balance and coordination in infants and children. Folklore_sentence_180

Verbal rhymes like Peter Piper picked... serve to increase both the oral and aural acuity of children. Folklore_sentence_181

Songs and chants, accessing a different part of the brain, are used to memorize series (Alphabet song). Folklore_sentence_182

They also provide the necessary beat to complex physical rhythms and movements, be it hand-clapping, jump roping, or ball bouncing. Folklore_sentence_183

Furthermore, many physical games are used to develop strength, coordination and endurance of the players. Folklore_sentence_184

For some team games, negotiations about the rules can run on longer than the game itself as social skills are rehearsed. Folklore_sentence_185

Even as we are just now uncovering the neuroscience that undergirds the developmental function of this childlore, the artifacts themselves have been in play for centuries. Folklore_sentence_186

Below is listed just a small sampling of types and examples of childlore and games. Folklore_sentence_187

Folk history Folklore_section_8

A case has been made for considering folk history as a distinct sub-category of folklore, an idea that has received attention from such folklorists as Richard Dorson. Folklore_sentence_188

This field of study is represented in The Folklore Historian, an annual journal sponsored by the History and Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society and concerned with the connections of folklore with history, as well as the history of folklore studies. Folklore_sentence_189

The study of folk history is particularly well developed in Ireland, where the Handbook of Irish Folklore (the standard book used by field workers of the Irish Folklore Commission) recognizes "historical tradition" as a separate category, traditionally referred to as seanchas. Folklore_sentence_190

Henry Glassie made a pioneering contribution in his classic study, Passing the Time in Ballymenone. Folklore_sentence_191

Another notable exponent is historian Guy Beiner who has presented in-depth studies of Irish folk history, identifying a number of characteristic genres for what he has named "history telling", such as stories (divided into tales and "mini-histories"), songs and ballads (especially rebel songs), poems, rhymes, toasts, prophecies, proverbs and sayings, place-names, and a variety of commemorative ritual practices. Folklore_sentence_192

These are often recited by dedicated storytellers (seanchaithe) and folk historians (staireolaithe). Folklore_sentence_193

Beiner has since adopted the term vernacular historiography in an attempt to move beyond the confines of "the artificial divides between oral and literary cultures that lie at the heart of conceptualizations of oral tradition". Folklore_sentence_194

Folklore performance in context Folklore_section_9

Lacking context, folklore artifacts would be uninspiring objects without any life of their own. Folklore_sentence_195

It is only through performance that the artifacts come alive as an active and meaningful component of a social group; the intergroup communication arises in the performance and this is where transmission of these cultural elements takes place. Folklore_sentence_196

American folklorist Roger D. Abrahams has described it thus: "Folklore is folklore only when performed. Folklore_sentence_197

As organized entities of performance, items of folklore have a sense of control inherent in them, a power that can be capitalized upon and enhanced through effective performance." Folklore_sentence_198

Without transmission, these items are not folklore, they are just individual quirky tales and objects. Folklore_sentence_199

This understanding in folkloristics only occurred in the second half of the 20th century, when the two terms "folklore performance" and "text and context" dominated discussions among folklorists. Folklore_sentence_200

These terms are not contradictory or even mutually exclusive. Folklore_sentence_201

As borrowings from other fields of study, one or the other linguistic formulation is more appropriate to any given discussion. Folklore_sentence_202

Performance is frequently tied to verbal and customary lore, whereas context is used in discussions of material lore. Folklore_sentence_203

Both formulations offer different perspectives on the same folkloric understanding, specifically that folklore artifacts need to remain embedded in their cultural environment if we are to gain insight into their meaning for the community. Folklore_sentence_204

The concept of cultural (folklore) performance is shared with ethnography and anthropology among other social sciences. Folklore_sentence_205

The cultural anthropologist Victor Turner identified four universal characteristics of cultural performance: playfulness, framing, the use of symbolic language, and employing the subjunctive mood. Folklore_sentence_206

In viewing the performance, the audience leaves the daily reality to move into a mode of make-believe, or "what if?" Folklore_sentence_207

It is self-evident that this fits well with all types of verbal lore, where reality has no place among the symbols, fantasies, and nonsense of traditional tales, proverbs, and jokes. Folklore_sentence_208

Customs and the lore of children and games also fit easily into the language of a folklore performance. Folklore_sentence_209

Material culture requires some moulding to turn it into a performance. Folklore_sentence_210

Should we consider the performance of the creation of the artifact, as in a quilting party, or the performance of the recipients who use the quilt to cover their marriage bed? Folklore_sentence_211

Here the language of context works better to describe the quilting of patterns copied from the grandmother, quilting as a social event during the winter months, or the gifting of a quilt to signify the importance of the event. Folklore_sentence_212

Each of these—the traditional pattern chosen, the social event, and the gifting—occur within the broader context of the community. Folklore_sentence_213

Even so, when considering context, the structure and characteristics of performance can be recognized, including an audience, a framing event, and the use of decorative figures and symbols, all of which go beyond the utility of the object. Folklore_sentence_214

Backstory Folklore_section_10

Before the Second World War, folk artifacts had been understood and collected as cultural shards of an earlier time. Folklore_sentence_215

They were considered individual vestigial artifacts, with little or no function in the contemporary culture. Folklore_sentence_216

Given this understanding, the goal of the folklorist was to capture and document them before they disappeared. Folklore_sentence_217

They were collected with no supporting data, bound in books, archived and classified more or less successfully. Folklore_sentence_218

The Historic–Geographic Method worked to isolate and track these collected artifacts, mostly verbal lore, across space and time. Folklore_sentence_219

Following the Second World War, folklorists began to articulate a more holistic approach toward their subject matter. Folklore_sentence_220

In tandem with the growing sophistication in the social sciences, attention was no longer limited to the isolated artifact, but extended to include the artifact embedded in an active cultural environment. Folklore_sentence_221

One early proponent was Alan Dundes with his essay "Texture, Text and Context", first published 1964. Folklore_sentence_222

A public presentation in 1967 by Dan Ben-Amos at the American Folklore Society brought the behavioral approach into open debate among folklorists. Folklore_sentence_223

In 1972 Richard Dorson called out the "young Turks" for their movement toward a behavioral approach to folklore. Folklore_sentence_224

This approach "shifted the conceptualization of folklore as an extractable item or 'text' to an emphasis on folklore as a kind of human behavior and communication. Folklore_sentence_225

Conceptualizing folklore as behavior redefined the job of folklorists..." Folklore_sentence_226

Folklore became a verb, an action, something that people do, not just something that they have. Folklore_sentence_227

It is in the performance and the active context that folklore artifacts get transmitted in informal, direct communication, either verbally or in demonstration. Folklore_sentence_228

Performance includes all the different modes and manners in which this transmission occurs. Folklore_sentence_229

Tradition-bearer and audience Folklore_section_11

Transmission is a communicative process requiring a binary: one individual or group who actively transmits information in some form to another individual or group. Folklore_sentence_230

Each of these is a defined role in the folklore process. Folklore_sentence_231

The tradition-bearer is the individual who actively passes along the knowledge of an artifact; this can be either a mother singing a lullaby to her baby, or an Irish dance troupe performing at a local festival. Folklore_sentence_232

They are named individuals, usually well known in the community as knowledgeable in their traditional lore. Folklore_sentence_233

They are not the anonymous "folk", the nameless mass without of history or individuality. Folklore_sentence_234

The audience of this performance is the other half in the transmission process; they listen, watch, and remember. Folklore_sentence_235

Few of them will become active tradition-bearers; many more will be passive tradition-bearers who maintain a memory of this specific traditional artifact, in both its presentation and its content. Folklore_sentence_236

There is active communication between the audience and the performer. Folklore_sentence_237

The performer is presenting to the audience; the audience in turn, through its actions and reactions, is actively communicating with the performer. Folklore_sentence_238

The purpose of this performance is not to create something new but to re-create something that already exists; the performance is words and actions which are known, recognized and valued by both the performer and the audience. Folklore_sentence_239

For folklore is first and foremost remembered behavior. Folklore_sentence_240

As members of the same cultural reference group, they identify and value this performance as a piece of shared cultural knowledge. Folklore_sentence_241

Framing the performance Folklore_section_12

To initiate the performance, there must be a frame of some sort to indicate that what is to follow is indeed performance. Folklore_sentence_242

The frame brackets it as outside of normal discourse. Folklore_sentence_243

In customary lore such as life cycle celebrations (ex. Folklore_sentence_244

birthday) or dance performances, the framing occurs as part of the event, frequently marked by location. Folklore_sentence_245

The audience goes to the event location to participate. Folklore_sentence_246

Games are defined primarily by rules, it is with the initiation of the rules that the game is framed. Folklore_sentence_247

The folklorist Barre Toelken describes an evening spent in a Navaho family playing string figure games, with each of the members shifting from performer to audience as they create and display different figures to each other. Folklore_sentence_248

In verbal lore, the performer will start and end with recognized linguistic formulas. Folklore_sentence_249

An easy example is seen in the common introduction to a joke: "Have you heard the one...", "Joke of the day...", or "An elephant walks into a bar". Folklore_sentence_250

Each of these signals to the listeners that the following is a joke, not to be taken literally. Folklore_sentence_251

The joke is completed with the punch line of the joke. Folklore_sentence_252

Another traditional narrative marker in English is the framing of a fairy tale between the phrases "Once upon a time" and "They all lived happily ever after." Folklore_sentence_253

Many languages have similar phrases which are used to frame a traditional tale. Folklore_sentence_254

Each of these linguistic formulas removes the bracketed text from ordinary discourse, and marks it as a recognized form of stylized, formulaic communication for both the performer and the audience. Folklore_sentence_255

In the subjunctive voice Folklore_section_13

Framing as a narrative device serves to signal to both the story teller and the audience that the narrative which follows is indeed a fiction (verbal lore), and not to be understood as historical fact or reality. Folklore_sentence_256

It moves the framed narration into the subjunctive mood, and marks a space in which "fiction, history, story, tradition, art, teaching, all exist within the narrated or performed expressive 'event' outside the normal realms and constraints of reality or time." Folklore_sentence_257

This shift from the realis to the irrealis mood is understood by all participants within the reference group. Folklore_sentence_258

It enables these fictional events to contain meaning for the group, and can lead to very real consequences. Folklore_sentence_259

Anderson's law of auto-correction Folklore_section_14

The theory of self-correction in folklore transmission was first articulated by the folklorist Walter Anderson in the 1920s; this posits a feedback mechanism which would keep folklore variants closer to the original form. Folklore_sentence_260

This theory addresses the question about how, with multiple performers and multiple audiences, the artifact maintains its identity across time and geography. Folklore_sentence_261

Anderson credited the audience with censoring narrators who deviated too far from the known (traditional) text. Folklore_sentence_262

Any performance is a two-way communication process. Folklore_sentence_263

The performer addresses the audience with words and actions; the audience in turn actively responds to the performer. Folklore_sentence_264

If this performance deviates too far from audience expectations of the familiar folk artifact, they will respond with negative feedback. Folklore_sentence_265

Wanting to avoid more negative reaction, the performer will adjust his performance to conform to audience expectations. Folklore_sentence_266

"Social reward by an audience [is] a major factor in motivating narrators..." It is this dynamic feedback loop between performer and audience which gives stability to the text of the performance. Folklore_sentence_267

In reality, this model is not so simplistic; there is multiple redundancy in the active folklore process. Folklore_sentence_268

The performer has heard the tale multiple times, he has heard it from different story tellers in multiple versions. Folklore_sentence_269

In turn, he tells the tale multiple times to the same or a different audience, and they expect to hear the version they know. Folklore_sentence_270

This expanded model of redundancy in a non-linear narrative process makes it difficult to innovate during any single performance; corrective feedback from the audience will be immediate. Folklore_sentence_271

"At the heart of both autopoetic self-maintenance and the 'virality' of meme transmission... it is enough to assume that some sort of recursive action maintains a degree of integrity [of the artifact] in certain features ... sufficient to allow us to recognize it as an instance of its type." Folklore_sentence_272

Context of material lore Folklore_section_15

For material folk artifacts, it becomes more fruitful to return to the terminology of Alan Dundes: text and context. Folklore_sentence_273

Here the text designates the physical artifact itself, the single item made by an individual for a specific purpose. Folklore_sentence_274

The context is then unmasked by observation and questions concerning both its production and its usage. Folklore_sentence_275

Why was it made, how was it made, who will use it, how will they use it, where did the raw materials come from, who designed it, etc. Folklore_sentence_276

These questions are limited only by the skill of the interviewer. Folklore_sentence_277

In his study of southeastern Kentucky chair makers, Michael Owen Jones describes production of a chair within the context of the life of the craftsman. Folklore_sentence_278

For Henry Glassie in his study of Folk Housing in Middle Virginia the investigation concerns the historical pattern he finds repeated in the dwellings of this region: the house is planted in the landscape just as the landscape completes itself with the house. Folklore_sentence_279

The artisan in his roadside stand or shop in the nearby town wants to make and display products which appeal to customers. Folklore_sentence_280

There is "a craftsperson's eagerness to produce 'satisfactory items' due to a close personal contact with the customer and expectations to serve the customer again." Folklore_sentence_281

Here the role of consumer "... is the basic force responsible for the continuity and discontinuity of behavior." Folklore_sentence_282

In material culture the context becomes the cultural environment in which the object is made (chair), used (house), and sold (wares). Folklore_sentence_283

None of these artisans is "anonymous" folk; they are individuals making a living with the tools and skills learned within and valued in the context of their community. Folklore_sentence_284

Toelken's conservative-dynamic continuum Folklore_section_16

No two performances are identical. Folklore_sentence_285

The performer attempts to keep the performance within expectations, but this happens despite a multitude of changing variables. Folklore_sentence_286

He has given this performance one time more or less, the audience is different, the social and political environment has changed. Folklore_sentence_287

In the context of material culture, no two hand-crafted items are identical. Folklore_sentence_288

Sometimes these deviations in the performance and the production are unintentional, just part of the process. Folklore_sentence_289

But sometimes these deviations are intentional; the performer or artisan want to play with the boundaries of expectation and add their own creative touch. Folklore_sentence_290

They perform within the tension of conserving the recognized form and adding innovation. Folklore_sentence_291

The folklorist Barre Toelken identifies this tension as "... a combination of both changing ("dynamic") and static ("conservative") elements that evolve and change through sharing, communication and performance." Folklore_sentence_292

Over time, the cultural context shifts and morphs: new leaders, new technologies, new values, new awareness. Folklore_sentence_293

As the context changes, so must the artifact, for without modifications to map existing artifacts into the evolving cultural landscape, they lose their meaning. Folklore_sentence_294

Joking as an active form of verbal lore makes this tension visible as joke cycles come and go to reflect new issues of concern. Folklore_sentence_295

Once an artifact is no longer applicable to the context, transmission becomes a nonstarter; it loses relevancy for a contemporary audience. Folklore_sentence_296

If it is not transmitted, then it is no longer folklore and becomes instead an historic relic. Folklore_sentence_297

In the electronic age Folklore_section_17

It is too soon to identify how the advent of electronic communications will modify and change the performance and transmission of folklore artifacts. Folklore_sentence_298

Just by looking at the development of one type of verbal lore, electronic joking, it is clear that the internet is modifying folkloric process, not killing it. Folklore_sentence_299

Jokes and joking are as plentiful as ever both in traditional face-to-face interactions and through electronic transmission. Folklore_sentence_300

New communication modes are also transforming traditional stories into many different configurations. Folklore_sentence_301

The fairy tale Snow White is now offered in multiple media forms for both children and adults, including a television show and video game. Folklore_sentence_302

A more generalized analysis of folklore in the electronic age will have to wait for further studies to be published in the field. Folklore_sentence_303

See also Folklore_section_18

For a list of folklores of countries, see :Category:Folklore by country. Folklore_sentence_304

For a list of folklores of European countries, see European folklore. Folklore_sentence_305

For a list of folklores by region, see :Category:Folklore by region. Folklore_sentence_306

For a list of folklores by ethnicity, see :Category:Folklore by ethnicity. Folklore_sentence_307

Folklore_unordered_list_0


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folklore.