Folklore Studies

Since the early 19th century, the field of folklore studies has pursued an inclusive view of culture and creativity in communities by examining expressive life across boundaries of time and distance. Folklorists have promoted the idea that music, stories, handmade objects, custom, belief, ritual, and worldview all serve as windows into the defining identities and values of people and communities. They were also among the first scholars to embrace recording technology—in the many formats that have been “cutting edge” over time—as a means for documenting cultural voices for preservation, analysis, and education. Today, the field of folklore studies and its core concepts—including art, context, and folk; genre, group, and identity; and performance, text, and tradition—continue to make uniquely meaningful contributions to scholarship and understanding in the humanities and social sciences. Contemporary folklorists communicate knowledge about community-based creativity in a global economy, the relations of lay and expert knowledge in complex societies, cultural communication (or its lack) across religious and ethnic divides and in situations of conflict, and the advancement of understanding and respect within the world’s diverse cultural commons. A humanities discipline that uses locally based qualitative research, founded on fieldwork, to understand culture and community through expressive life, the field of folklore studies is more relevant to the academy and to public education today than at any time in its history.