Folklore

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Conducting Research

Students of Folklore are required to complete a fieldwork projects for their final semester papers. Although some students will have completed fieldwork projects before taking a Folklore class, students are not expected to have prior experience with the fieldwork process and will be given specific instruction regarding how to successfully complete the project.

What is Fieldwork?

The basis of Folklore scholarship rests on the collection and preservation of folk materials in the local community. These collections are varied and can include oral histories and personal narratives, family stories, folklore of the workplace, contemporary legends and other topical areas. Students are encouraged to select a fieldwork project that reflects their interests and experiences. In addition, students can expect one-on-one assistance from their professor in selecting a topic and limiting the scope of the project. Generally, students will select an informant and will complete a brief (40-60 minute) tape-recorded interview.

Based upon the information gathered during the interview, the student will compose a formal essay that applies the terms and concepts of the field of folklore to the materials they have collected. As part of this process, students will be required to complete library research drawing on Folklore scholarship as it relates to their project. A comprehensive list of folklore resources at GMU (folklore encyclopedias, journals, etc.) can be found on the Folklore Resources site.

Although fieldwork is a central feature to other folklore offerings at GMU, in some upper division and graduate courses students will have the option of completing a library research essay and/or a fieldwork semester project. For specific project requirements, please see the websites of the GMU Folklore professors.

Print Friendly and PDF