Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Methodology as Folklore

Last week I met with one of my committee members to discuss my Methodology and Folklore reading list which I finished a few weeks ago. This meeting consisted of an hour of quizzing about everything I'd read on my list. Usually lists are divided into primary and secondary sources, but because my goal was to examine both the folkloric texts and the methodology associated with them, we collapsed the list, and centered it around Dundes' work.
If you knew my committee member, you'd understand how important it is that I managed to respond to everything lobbed at me. He's one of the smartest people I know, and doesn't accept anything less than genius. I was happy with how it went and his brief comment of, "You obviously know all the material" is the equivalent of being called a rock star.

He's told me that he will have three comprehensive exam questions and the break down will be one that is about the reading, one that is specific to my topic, and one that is completely out of left field.

Before our meeting broke up he said that he wanted me to think about how methodology functioned AS folklore. One of the arguments I brought up during our meeting that I was struck with how compartmentalized folklore work was- formalists OR historical context OR psychoanalysis OR whatever...whereas it made more sense to me to combine approaches- to identify the form (tropes/motifs), then place the text within a specific historical/cultural moment, then look at what is repressed or hidden, and WHY at that particular moment certain fears or anxieties would be present, then panning back to look at the big picture to look at what all of that says about that moment and what work that text was doing.
I also think that in regards to folklore we can only analyze that frozen moment, and have to avoid making generalizations based on single artifacts.

So back to my committee member's question- I was thinking that one way to approach it would be something like the chart below, to analyze their works through the same approach I'm proposing with folkloric texts.
Historical/Cultural Moment
What it says/work being done




 This approach would allow me to look at the story told in each work, and the larger work (as Dundes says) that work is doing.
I still have some working out to do to tease out what this looks like, but those are my initial thoughts.

More to come.

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