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PDF Anguish Of Snails: Native American Folklore in the West: 2 (Folklife of the West)

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Posted Tuesday, November 20, He did not subscribe to dogma easily, not even scholarly dogma. These attitudes, as well as his charm and charisma, made him a beloved teacher, not just for future folklorists but for many other students who benefitted in both profession and personal ways from his teaching.

As great as his legacy in scholarship remains, the positive, uplifting, and enduring impact he has had on many lives may be even greater. He was out of town, consulting, at the Navajo Reservation I think. His graduate assistant, Polly Stewart, was the perfect substitute. Take a class from him. What a recommendation, I thought.

I had to find out who this Toelken fellow was. He also published significant work in other areas of folkloristics such as folk art, occupational folklore, folk belief, ethnicity, and German folklore. He was a key part of the New Perspectives generation of folklorists who revolutionized the way we look at folklore, reshaping folkloristics into a serious, all-embracing field.

Working far away from the centers of power, in the American West, his adopted home, he nevertheless avoided isolation and was in regular contact with a far-flung, international network of colleagues. Toelken spins this insight into a metaphor that illustrates his arguments about Native America, folklore, and his methodology of reading Native American cultures.

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In fact, methodology becomes one strand of a braided argument that speaks to the lay reader as effectively as it does to folklorists and scholars of Native American studies. Toelken early announces his intention to describe and explain native folkways from the personal stance of an adopted insider. He has strong family ties in Navajo country.

What this means for academics is a refutation of the traditional and dated "scientific" pretensions of anthropology. Folklife is community life and values, artfully expressed in myriad forms and interactions. Universal, diverse, and enduring, it enriches the nation and makes us a commonwealth of cultures.

What Do Folklorists Do? Folklorists—members of the American Folklore Society—live and work throughout the world. They include students, teachers, scholars, consultants, community organizers, educators, and public agency professionals. Society members publish scholarly articles, in-depth books, and engaging exhibition catalogues. They produce award-winning documentary films and recordings, as well as nationally recognized radio programs. Our members also develop interpretive programs for all ages: exhibitions, festivals, lectures, and concerts. They organize communities to identify and conserve their folklore and cultural heritage, and they work to establish public policy that honors and respects cultural diversity.

Whatever their particular interests or work, Society members recognize the value of experience-based knowledge and the importance of understanding the intersections of artfulness and everyday life. The artistic, cultural, educational, historical, and political questions our members raise place the field of folklore at the leading edge of contemporary cultural issues, and establish folklore as a primary field of the humanities.


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In the American Folklore Society commissioned folklorist Charles Camp to create a publication on the current and possible future state of the field of folklore. That publication, Time and Temperature , included "The Folklorist As…", a series of short essays by folklorists about the challenges and opportunities of their work. We have reprinted those essays here as a way of answering the question "What do folklorists do?

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Clements and available from the American Folklore Society, provides a clear and concise history of the field of folklore in this country from the mids to the late 20th century. Make your check payable to the American Folklore Society. Wiggins, Jr. Where to Study Folklore American Folklore Society members teach, carry out research, and provide community service at many universities in the US, Canada, and abroad.

They teach undergraduate and graduate courses of all kinds on folklore, from introductory classes to specialized seminars; carry out library and field research in all areas of folklore throughout the world; organize and archive their own and others' documentary materials; deliver lectures and talks both on and off campus; publish papers, articles, and books to communicate what they have learned about folklore; and work again, both on and off campus to support their field.

A number of US and Canadian universities have folklore departments, programs, or centers that offer graduate coursework in folklore leading to masters or doctoral degrees. Since many faculty and students at these programs do fieldwork in the regions where their university is located, these programs can also be good sources for information about local folk traditions. To begin to learn about these folklore departments, programs, and centers, please click on the links below to connect to their web sites. Remember, though, that in planning your education a web search is not enough; you should follow up by making personal contact with faculty members and department administrators to learn the specific circumstances, strengths, and opportunities of the departments that interest you.

If you want to study folklore as part of a K education, please visit the Folklore in K Education page of this site. Folklore departments, programs, and centers: To add or modify an entry, please send your name, e-mail address, and URL of the department homepage to the AFS executive director.

Folklore in K Education Folklorists are deeply involved in efforts to incorporate folklore into K classrooms throughout the country. These efforts have taken many forms, from artists-in-education residencies to teacher training workshops to major initiatives to make folklore and cultural heritage an official part of state education standards and curricula.

Public Folklore Over the past 25 years or so, the part of the field of folklore we call "public folklore" has grown and developed very rapidly. By "public folklorist" we usually mean a folklorist who works primarily in arts, cultural, or educational organizations that are not colleges or universities, such as arts councils, historical societies, libraries, museums, or non-profit folk arts or folklore organizations. Universities, for example, are where most folklorists are trained in the ways of our field, and the public side of folklore work connects to general audiences in ways that increase appreciation for the field as a whole.

National and International Folklore Organizations Follow the links below to the web sites of national and international organizations involved with folklore and traditional culture. Notable Folklore Books and Journals One of the best ways to learn about what folklore is and how folklorists do their work is to read the books folklorists have published. Though no one list can include all the many good books that have been and are still being published about folklore, or all the folk traditions that folklorists study, this list is a start.

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These books should be available through a good public or university library; most of them also can be purchased from the university press that published them, at a good bookstore, or online. To learn about current work in the field of folklore, you should also become familiar with the world's leading folklore journals , which contain articles, opinions, research reports, and reviews of folklorists' work of all kinds.

Folklore TextbooksThis is a list of some of the general college-level folklore textbooks published in recent years. The edited volumes on this list contain essays by many folklorists. Bauman, Richard, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Study of American Folklore. Readings in American Folklore. Dorson, Richard, ed. Folklore and Folklife: An Introduction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Handbook of American Folklore.

Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Dundes, Alan. Interpreting Folklore. The Study of Folklore. Fine, Elizabeth. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, , Georges, Robert, and Michael Owen Jones. Folkloristics: An Introduction. Oring, Elliott, ed. Logan: Utah State University Press, Sims, Martha, and Martine Stephens. Toelken, Barre. Yoder, Don, ed. American Folklife.

Austin: University of Texas Press, New York: Penguin, Bronner, Simon J. Encyclopedia of American Folklife. Armonk, New York: M. Sharpe, Brunvand, Jan Harold, ed. American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.

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As part of fieldwork, folklorists interview people and document through writing, photography, audio recording, video, and film many of their activities for example, their storytelling, celebrations, foodways, work, music, dance, or art. These books by folklorists introduce many of the best practices, both practical and interpersonal, of doing good fieldwork. Briggs, Charles L. Learning How to Ask. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Georges, Robert A.


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