What is folklore?

1.1 The Meming of Things

There are a lot of ways to begin an exploration of folklore, especially digital folklore, and Lynne McNeill offers us one way to begin thinking about it. While her talk is titled Folklore doesn’t meme what you think it memes, she addresses the larger questions of what is culture? and how do we know who we are? along the way.

After you’ve watched the video, be sure to head over to the Teams notebook collaboration space and contribute to the discussion there.

1.2 Some Terms

There are some terms you are going to encounter repeatedly whenever we read or watch something produced by a folklorist: performance and/or cultural performance, text, context, genre, tradition, and occasionally competence. These terms are bound together. Understanding the relationships among the parts lets you focus on those aspects of what is essentially the “engine of culture” that interest you most.

[Link to lecture here.]

For those interested in exploring the materials drawn upon for the lecture, and the founding assumptions of this course, the following brief bibliography offers some first steps:

  • Bateson, Gregory. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. (See the essays: “A Theory of Play and Fantasy” and “Style, Information, and Grace.”)
  • Bauman, Richard. 1975. Verbal Art as Performance. American Anthropologist 77 (2): 290–311. doi:10.1525/aa.1975.77.2.02a00030.
  • Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper Colophon Books.
  • Hall, Edward. 1976. Beyond Culture. Anchor Books.