Folklore in English Studies

Part of what we want to explore in this site is how folklore, as a field of study, is seen in the broader scope of teaching literature in university. This interests me, in particular, because my initial impression of folklore prior to my engagement with it was that it was merely a historic lens through which to look at specific cultures; I overlooked its complex and very important connections with literature, and how it shapes contemporary texts of whichever culture is being analyzed–spinning a rounder, more humanities-angled knowledge set on its readers.

Although folklore studies is usually categorized under philosophy studies, its mediums are commonly regarded as lying heavily in narratives and story telling, through music, visual art, or literature. Because of this, I want to see how this field of study has been sculpted particularly in literature teaching—how it can be applied in teaching literature, whether as an effort to read text through history-focused lenses, or for other theoretical/rhetorical values (i.e., the much loved subject of Critical Theory in Literature studies). Furthermore, we want to extend our findings to how it is being taught for its involvement with magic-based topics, as folklore is commonly associated with fantasy and/or science fiction genres, whether it be through traditional Literature text, or with a fun, interesting spin from Adaptation studies.

Analyzing these features of folklore studies in relation to literature studies will, I think, give me a good basis for how to go about integrating folklore studies with contemporary literature in teaching, specifically with European medieval folklore and fantasy/science fiction literature in mind. We want to do this to create a direct connection from the present to the past for students, in an effort to illustrate how, at its core, humankind’s story telling tendencies are timelessly habitual in their tropes, structures, and oftentimes didactic narratives.

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