Folklorists: Academics Who Study Folklore
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Folklorists: Academics Who Study Folklore

Folklorists study the interactions between lore and the people who use it, between the heroes or villains and the people who love or hate them. They do work in public settings, such as within arts councils and radio stations, documenting arts, crafts, music and more. They also work in private organizations and use artifacts to document traditional customs and superstitions.

Folklorists are academics who study folklore. They work in museums, colleges, consultants, editors and event coordinators. They teach about cultural heritage and examine all the ways in which traditions continue to make the world a richer place to live in.

Folklorists: Responsibilities of People Who Study Folklore

Folklorists are responsible for teaching and conducting research on all kinds of folklore. They also provide community service at universities abroad and in their own country. Many teach specialized seminars while others do introductory courses for students at the graduate and undergraduate level.

Folklorists: Academic Qualifications

Folklorists usually study to the Masters level or higher. Many universities and colleges that offer programs in this area have coursework that leads to a MA or Doctorate. One of the hubs for folkloristic research in America is the University of Oregon. Students there look at the traditional identities of persons in specific societies by focusing on gender, occupation, ethnicity and other perspectives.

In the United States, George Washington University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin are just some of the schools that offer coursework to the Doctoral level. Some of the American universities that have MA programs in folklore are Texas A&M University, The George Washington University and Texas State University.

Some people choose not to major in folklore but they have an interest in the subject. These individuals may opt to do a minor in folklore or do a few courses in the area. Some of the universities that offer this option to undergraduates are Idaho State University, Harvard University and the University of Hawai’I at Manoa.

Folklorists: International Perspective

Folklorists in the United States do not only look at their own culture. They examine traditions outside of their own experience such as Guyanese jokes, Jamaican riddles and oral tales from India. In this way, they are better able to understand what the people in other cultures think and enjoy and can share this knowledge with others.

In every country, there are folklorists who focus on their traditional stories and folk heroes. For example in Helsinki, Finland most of the academics look at the pre-industrial, agrarian culture in that country. Kalevalaic poetry, mythology and folk beliefs are covered in programs that are offered at Finnish Universities. At some universities students look at their own lore in an international context, traveling to Baltic countries, Russia and Europe to get their research done.

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