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C LIT 230 A: Introduction To Folklore Studies

Meeting Time: 
MTWThF 11:30am - 12:20pm
KNE 110
Guntis I. Smidchens

Syllabus Description:

Scand/CompLit 230: Introduction to Folklore Studies

Autumn Quarter 2015

Class meets Monday thru Friday, 11:30-12:20 pm, Kane Hall 110 Class website: (see link in your MyUW account)

Instructor: Guntis Šmidchens, office hours: daily 12:30-1:00, and by appointment; Office: Raitt Hall 305 V; e-mail:; Phone:  (206) 616-5224 

Course Description 

Folklore (traditional stories, beliefs, songs, customs, and material culture) is a rich resource for remembering and understanding people and their worldviews. This course will survey genres of folklore: Folktales, legends and oral poetry, as a window into the lives of the people who perform them. A variety of theories and methods applied in folklore studies during the past two centuries will be introduced in readings and lectures.  

Course Objectives

  • Learn “classic” folklore examples: variants of legends, folktales and songs in Northern Europe & America  
  • Learn methods of collecting & analyzing folklore, with particular attention to folkloristics in North Europe
  • Do folklore studies: Collect, describe and interpret items of folklore from oral tradition
    • practice folkloristic methods of rigorously observing, describing & understanding living humans!


  • See UW grading guidelines at [Link]. What grade do you plan to get?

  • Class discussion of assigned readings (face-to-face and online) 10%
  • Four exams on reading assignments and lectures, 50% 
  • Three ethnographic (folklore collection) projects and portfolio: 30%
  • Peer review of classmates’ ethnographic projects 10%

Required Readings 

  • Henry Glassie, All Silver and No Brass (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1975)
  • Lynne S. McNeill, Folklore Rules: A Fun, Quick, and Useful Introduction to the Field of Academic Folklore Studies. Utah State University Press, 2013 [e-book in the UW Library]
  • Additional required readings include websites and selected articles as listed in Lecture schedule  


Catalog Description: 
Comprehensive overview of the field of folkloristics, focusing on verbal genres, customs, belief, and material culture. Particular attention to the issues of community, identity, and ethnicity. Offered: jointly with SCAND 230.
GE Requirements Met: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:20am