English 315 offers GMU students an advanced introduction to folklore. It explores the central concepts and approaches in contemporary folklore study in the Americas, with a particular focus on the United States and Mexico. During the semester we’ll study folktales, legends, jokes, and handmade objects, and together develop ways of understanding what lies beneath the deceptively simple surface of traditional materials such as songs, stories, quilts, and festivals. English 315 draws upon theoretical perspectives from folklore scholarship, literature, and anthropology. The class explores the concept of tradition and asks why some traditions have lasted into the present, how others have changed, and what their changes signify. We'll also ask what functions traditions serve for the people who maintain them, what factors influence their content and their performance, and how people manipulate and invent traditions for their own ends.
Topics include folktales, personal narratives, legends, proverbs, jokes, folk songs, folk art and craft, and folk architecture. Considers ethnicity, community, family, festival, folklore in literature, and oral history. Discusses traditions in students' own lives.
Satisfaction of University requirements in 100-level English and in Mason Core literature.