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Academic Programs in Folklore. Encyclopedia of American Folklore

Folklore programs in the United States and Canada. Folklore courses were introduced at several North American universities in the 1920s and 1930s, and in 1940 Ralph Steele Boggs established the first degree-granting program in folklore, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which remains a center for the study of folklore. Awarding both an M.A. degree and a doctoral minor, the curriculum in folklore at North Carolina is designed primarily for graduate students, though undergraduates may create an interdisciplinary degree with a concentration in folklore. Supported by several research collections—including D.K.Wilgus’ papers, Archie Green’s labor-song collection, the Southern Folklife Collection, the John Edwards Memorial Collection, the American Religious Tunebook Collection, and the Southern Historical Collection—the North Carolina program is especially strong in folksong and Southern folklife studies. Other emphases include African American folklore, ethnographic filmmaking, public-sector folklore, and occupational folklore. The first Folklore Department in an American college or university was established at Franklin and Marshall University in 1948 by Alfred L.Shoemaker, assistant professor of American folklore. Although called the Department of American Folklore, the program was influenced by European folklife concepts and emphasized the study of Pennsylvania folklore and folklife. Franklin and Marshall’s short-lived Folklore Department first appeared in the catalog for 1949–1950 but remained in it only two years. By 1995, Franklin and Marshall offered only a single folklore course, and in the United States only Indiana University and the University of Pennsylvania had Folklore Departments. Stith Thompson joined the English faculty at Indiana University as director of freshman composition in 1921 and introduced the first folklore course there in 1923. After directing several M.A. theses and doctoral dissertations in folklore for graduate students majoring in English, Thompson established the first American Ph.D. program in folklore, at Indiana in 1949. After Thompson’s retirement in 1955, his successor, Richard M.Dorson, guided an expanded folklore program of courses and faculty to departmental status in 1963. Under Thompson’s direction, the program emphasized the comparative study of international folktales. Dorson continued to stress coverage of major international cultural areas in the curriculum, but, trained in the history of American civilization, he also added an Americanist orientation to the program. Warren E.Roberts, in 1953 the recipient of the first American doctorate in folklore, introduced a course in traditional arts, crafts, and architecture in 1961 and contributed to widening the range of the Indiana program, which emphasizes theoretical approaches in covering the entire field of folklore studies. An ethnomusicology program within the Department of Folklore and an Archives of Traditional Music strengthen the B.A. program as well as the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in folklore. The second doctoral program in folklore was established in 1959, at the University of Pennsylvania, by Mac-Edward Leach. Leach remained on the English faculty at Penn after receiving a Ph.D. in Middle English literature there in 1930 and changed two literature courses into a general folklore course and a ballad course. Penn’s interdisciplinary graduate program in folklore first emphasized studies in ballads and folksongs and in folklore and literary relations, but by the time Leach retired in 1966, Penn had a comprehensive program covering the entire range of folklore studies. Influenced by sociolinguistic approaches and the ethnography of communication, the Department of Folklore and Folklife, offering an undergraduate degree and an M.A. in folklore as well as a doctorate, stresses social-scientific approaches to folklore. Another major center of folklore studies is the folklore and mythology program at the University of California at Los Angeles, where Sigurd B.Hustvedt introduced a graduate course in the traditional ballad in 1933. Wayland D.Hand joined the German faculty in 1937, introduced a general folklore course in 1939, and established an interdepartmental folklore program in 1954. By 1995, UCLA’s folklore and mythology program offered more than seventy-five courses, either directly or in conjunction with cooperating departments throughout the university, and awarded interdisciplinary master’s and doctoral degrees in folklore and mythology. A research institute, the Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology, and other university research centers strengthen UCLA’s academic program. An M.A. in folklore is offered in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.A. in folk arts is offered through the Tamburitzans Institute of Folk Arts in the School of Music at Duquesne University. Western Kentucky’s program in folk studies, housed in the Department of Modern Languages and Intercultural Studies, offers an undergraduate minor as well as an M.A. degree in folk studies. In Canada, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Université Laval have folklore programs, both awarding doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate degrees in folklore. In 1962 Herbert Halpert joined the faculty of Memorial and, encouraged and supported by E.R.Seary, professor and head of the Department of English and placenames scholar, developed a folklore program within the Department of English. In 1968 Halpert established a Department of Folklore that offers a complete line of folklore courses. Three archives support the teaching mission: the Centre d’études francoterreneuviennes, the Centre for Material Culture Studies, and the Folklore and Language Archive. Universite Laval, with folklore studies dating from 1944 when Luc Lacourciére was appointed to a chair in folklore, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in folklore, with emphasis on French folklore in North America, through its programmes d’arts et traditions populaires in the Département d’Histoire. Two institutions without formal graduate programs in folklore, Pitzer College and Harvard University, offer B.A. degrees in folklore. Folklore studies at Harvard date from 1856 when Francis James Child began collecting English and Scottish fblk ballads from books, broadsides, and manuscripts. Child did not develop separate folklore courses or a folklore program, but he incorporated folklore in his English courses and trained several notable American folklorists, including George Lyman Kittredge, successor to Child’s English professorship in 1894. Harvard became the center for the literary study of folklore in North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the interest in folklore at Harvard was maintained in the 1930s by a group of Americanists, who promoted an interdisciplinary study of American culture to include folk and popular cultures as well as formal culture, and by Milman Parry and Albert Bates Lord, who initiated field research in European oral epics. Harvard remains a center for the comparative study of folklore, because graduate studies in oral literature in allied areas complement Harvard’s undergraduate degree program in folklore and mythology, awarded through its Committee on Degrees in Folklore and Mythology. Over eighty North American colleges and universities offer majors in other disciplines (notably English, anthropology, and American studies) that permit a folklore minor or concentration. These programs range from formal curricula to informal concentrations at all degree levels. For example, an M.A. and a Ph.D. in anthropology or English with a folklore concentration is offered at the University of Texas at Austin. Undergraduate majors as well as graduate majors in anthropology at Texas A&M University also may elect a concentration in folklore. Degrees in folklore at the University of Oregon are coordinated through its folklore and ethnic studies program, in which master’s students create their own program of study through an individualized program and doctoral students in English or anthropology may elect folklore as an area of concentration. Through its program in folklore, mythology, and film studies, the State University of New York at Buffalo awards an M.A. in English or humanities and a Ph.D. in English with a folklore and mythology concentration. A concentration in folklore also is available in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. George Washington University’s folklife program grants an M.A. in American studies or anthropology and a Ph.D. in American studies with a concentration in traditional material culture—a program that takes advantage of the resources of the Smithsonian Institution, the American Folklife Center, and other museums, libraries, archives, and historical societies in the Washington, DC, area. The folklore program at Utah State University is administered through the American studies program, and undergraduate and master’s degrees in American studies with a folklore emphasis are offered. Folklore concentrations also are available to history or English majors at Utah State. Master’s candidates may elect areas in general folklore, public folklore, or applied history/museology. Ohio State University has offered folklore courses since the 1930s and has a Center for Folklore and Cultural Studies, allowing undergraduate and graduate students a folklore concentration in an interdisciplinary program, which emphasizes folklore and literary relations and narrative theory. The academic study of folklore has made considerable progress since Boggs established the first folklore program in 1940, but few degree-granting programs in folklore have developed. Most folklore courses are taught in departments other than folklore, typically in English and anthropology departments or in American studies programs in the United States and in anthropology and history departments in Canada. Ronald L.Baker References Baker, Ronald L. 1771. Folklore Courses and Programs in American Colleges and Universities. Journal of American Folklore 84:221–229. ——. 1778. The Study of Folklore in American Colleges and Universities. Journal of American Folklore 91:792–807. ——. 1986. Folklore and Folklife Studies in American and Canadian Colleges and Universities. Journal of American Folklore 99:50–74.

 

 

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