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. Depending on the size of the class, everyone will be expected to tell a story every week. A different student will be assigned to record the stories. In one of the last classes, we will compare the different methods of recording and what we can deduce from them. Since the basis for the assignments will be presented in class, attendance is mandatory and will be considered in the final grade. Unexcused absences will be noted and will result in a reduction in grade. There will also be a mid-term and a final.
The main assignment is 7-10 page paper on one of the books. It can be on any aspect of the book but you will be expected to clear the topic with me beforehand. An annotated bibliography of at least five sources will be due in the middle of the semester and the final paper due at the end of the semester. The format should conform to your choice of APA, MLA or Chicago style as listed at the Purdue site: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/. However, it must be consistent.
There is also a short collecting project. Students are expected to collect 5 stories around a single theme and use the standard template at the end of the syllabus to record them. The first half will consist of the stories. The second part will be a 7-10 page paper discussing them using concepts introduced in class. The final version will have the essay first and the stories second.