This course is intended for those with no prior background in folklore or the literatures of the various cultures in the reading list. The texts range in age from the first century to the twentieth, and geographically from the Middle East to Europe and the United States. Each collection displays various techniques for collecting folk materials and making them concrete. Each in its own way also raises different issues of genre, legitimacy, canon formation, cultural values and context.
Students will be responsible for reading the collections themselves. Class discussions will focus on the historical context of each collection and the specific issues that have been important to scholars who have looked at them.