Spring 2019 Open House for Admitted Students


Thursday March 14, 2019
10AM - 7:00 PM

Admitted students wishing to join the UC Berkeley Folklore MA Program for admission in the Fall 2019 semester may join us for a full-day of meeting with professors, current folklore graduate students, and a chance to sit in on one of our Folklore graduate seminars. If you are interested in attending our Open House on March 14, 2019, please RSVP to folklore_archive@berkeley.edu.

Folklore Archive
Ecoperformativity: Expressive Culture At The Crux of Ecological Trauma

2019 Alan Dundes Lecture

by Professor John McDowell
Thursday, March 14th

5:00 PM-7:00PM
221 Kroeber Hall, Gifford Room
UC Berkeley

Drawing on speech act theory, this presentation elaborates the concept of ecoperformativity to assess the impact of strategic vernacular discourse in settings of environmental crisis. When certain felicity conditions are met, ecoperformative discourse can shape people’s attitudes, move them to action, and help assuage the trauma of ecological precarity. This talk will address ecoperformativity in two Andean settings where indigenous peoples draw on a spiritual connection to the land in confronting existential threats to their survival.

John Holmes McDowell is Professor of Folklore at Indiana University and former Chair of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology; he has researched speech play, verbal art, ballads, and other forms as instruments of social process in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and the United States.

Sponsored by the Berkeley Folklore Graduate Program

Folklore Program welcomes John McDowell, visiting Professor

Joining us from Indiana University Bloomington is Professor of Folklore, John Holmes McDowell. Professor McDowell received his PhD from the University Texas at Austin, and he currently teaches courses on Constructing Tradition, Folklore and the Environment, Folklore of Latin America, History of Folklore Study, Ethnopoetics, and Myth, Cosmos, and Healing in Latin America. He will be teaching two courses this upcoming Spring semester Anthro 162 Topics in Folklore that will focus on Latin America, and Anthro 262B, which will work around concepts of tradition and interpretation.

John by ocean.jpg
Folklore Archive
Spring 2019 Courses

Anthro 162 Topics in Folklore
The peoples of Latin America have created a remarkable panorama of folk traditions. Our purpose in this course is to sample these delights to savor their artistic power, to understand how they relate to the history of the region and connect with people’s lives, and to see how they are used to make claims about social and national identities. This course, which will be taught by Visiting Professor John McDowell and will focus on Latin American Folklore.

Anthro 160 Forms of Folklore
A world-wide survey of the major and minor forms of folklore with special emphasis upon proverbs, riddles, superstitions, games, songs, and narratives. Taught by Professor Charles Briggs.

Anth/Folk C262B:
The focus of this course will be Constructing Tradition, or, on  “tradition” as a process rather than an object, something that people “do” and “make” rather than “have” or “own.” Taught by Visiting Professor John McDowell.

Music 80 Studies of Musics of the World
This course is taught by Professor Ben Brinner and examines selected traditional and popular musical practices from an ethnomusicological perspective. Taking into account local, regional, and transnational connections among the selected practices, this will include approaches to music making and listening, relevant music theory, issues of identity and power, connections to ritual, dance, and theater, and social, economic, and aesthetic values. Topic and geocultural area will vary.

Slavic 147B
MWF 2-3, Dwinelle 88
This course surveys the “lore” (traditional tales, songs, music, and customs) of selected peoples of the multiethnic Balkans. The peoples in question are of two ethnicities – Albanians (living both in Albania and in Kosovo) and Slavs (living in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Bulgaria) – and of two different religions, Islam and Christianity (most Albanians are Muslim but some are Christian; while most Slavs are Christian, but some are Muslim).


The region has long fascinated outsiders, not least because of the rich diversity of traditional cultural forms that are still evident there. The criss-crossing of traditional forms and motifs across cultures and religions in the Balkans provides a window both into the nature of folklore in general, and the multiculturalism of the area in particular. Of these traditional forms, oral epic song is the most important, and study of these songs – both their content and the manner in which they have been kept alive – gives much insight both into Balkan history, and into the intimate and emotional relations of Balkan peoples to their own histories. Furthermore, it was the work of two American scholars with the singers of a still-living epic tradition in the Balkans which gave rise to one of the greatest discoveries in comparative epic studies, the Parry-Lord theory of oral composition.  The region is also very rich in complex musical forms, and has long been of great interest to ethnomusicologists, who study the relationship of music to cultural identity and social interactions. Here too, the traditional forms have both been retained; at the same time certain traditional musical styles have become associated with the massive social and political changes in the Balkans, which lends more depth to the study of them.

Most of the course focuses on traditional folklore, reading transcripts, made in the 19th and early 20th centuries, of material which has been transmitted orally through many generations. The final section, devoted to traditional music, moves into the modern age, as it examines the ways in which this folklore heritage was transformed to serve particular political goals.

Folklore Archive
Berkeley Folklore Graduate Wins 2018 Don Yoder Graduate Prize

Yasmin Golan of the Berkeley Folklore Graduate Program received the 2018 Don Yoder Graduate Prize in Folk Belief and Religious Folklife from the American Folklore Society. Her study, "New Souls: Life After Death of Companion Animals in Contemporary Hanoi" focuses on a Buddhist cemetery in Vietnam whose funeral, cremation, and burial services for cats and dogs reveal the risks and opportunities available to domestic animals in city life. Simultaneously reconfiguring urban cosmologies Yasmin ushers readers to think through more-than-human entanglements with the animal-dead.

Folklore Archive
For Our Future Generations: Bringing Karuk Baskets Back Home

Folklore Roundtable 2018

Professor Carolyn Smith Lecture
Wednesday October 17, 2018

4:30 PM
221 Kroeber Hall, Gifford Room
UC Berkeley

"This presentation explores Karuk Tribe efforts of bringing baskets back home through repatriation. I focus on the historical and contemporary narratives of Karuk engagements with museums and anthropologists, which have shaped the western definitions of Karuk baskets. Countering the categories of "utilitarian/ceremonial" vs. "made for trade" baskets, I illustrate how baskets are considered social beings—belongings—that “cry out” to be back where they came from. Finally, I describe what it means to weave pikyav (to-fix-it) and how this responsibility energizes Karuk dedication to bring baskets and other belongings back home."

Carolyn Smith (Karuk) is a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow at University of California,
Berkeley in the Department of Ethnic Studies, where she is continuing her research on the
interconnections of the ontology of basketry, museum practice, and repatriation.

Sponsored by the Berkeley Folklore Graduate Program

Berkeley Folklore Graduates Win Prizes

Two Berkeley Folklore graduate students won top prizes for their writing this year:

Tracy Brannstrom won the 2018 Jeanne P. Steager Memorial Prize in Folklore, awarded annually to a student who has made an outstanding contribution in folklore during the academic year.

Yasmin Golan won the 2018 Joan Lee Yang Memorial Poetry Prize, awarded to the best poem or group of poems by a graduate student at Berkeley. 

In addition, several Berkeley Folklore graduate students will also be presenting their original research at the Western States Folklore Society conference in Los Angeles in April 2018. 

Congratulations to all our presenters and winners. 

Folklore Archive
"Forest Commons in the Kingdom of Coal"

"The Witness Trees Revolt: 
Folklore and the Fate of Forest Commons in the Kingdom of Coal"

Alan Dundes Lecture, 2018
by Professor Mary Hufford, University of Pennsylvania
Tuesday April 3, 2018

5:00 PM
221 Kroeber Hall, Gifford Room
UC Berkeley

"In the Central Appalachian coalfields, the trees anchor three mutually exclusive forests: the economic forest of the corporate state, the ecological forest of scientists, and a vernacular forest with more-than-human entanglements. The vernacular forest depends for its reproduction on speech genres, laden with sensory information and forest species exuding communal time. Through the continual exchange of sensory memory, (a practice that Semetakis calls “reflexive commensality,”) conversationalists in West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley track the fate of forest commons, species, and identities in the Kingdom of Coal." 

Mary Hufford is Director of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania, and visiting professor at UC Berkeley, Spring 2018. She has published widely on folklore, cultural policy and ecological crisis, including an edited volume, Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage. Her regional studies in central Appalachia and in southern New Jersey, including Chaseworld: Foxhunting and Storytelling in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, reflect her broader interest in discourses on nature, environment, and the body, and the production of social imaginaries.


Sponsored by the Berkeley Folklore Graduate Program

Folklore Archive
Spring 2018 Classes


Some of the Folklore-related classes offered at UC Berkeley in Spring 2018 include: 

Folklore 160AC: Forms of Folklore. Professor Charles Briggs.
Tues & Thurs 2:00-3:30, 3 LeConte. 4 units. (Class #31967)
This course focuses on how all of us construct notions of difference attached to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and nation through folklore. It traces how identities are constructed and performed in a wide range of genres. A broad range of analytic perspectives, including historic-geographic, psychoanalytic, Marxist, feminist, and linguistic approaches and those centering on the ethnography of speaking and performance are used in analyzing genres of folklore, including jokes, proverbs, riddles, folk speech, folk tales, legends, rumors, myths, and charms as well as superstitions, festivals, games, folk art, folk music, and vernacular healing. 

Anthropology 162, Topics in Folklore: Ecofeminist Fairy Tales. Professor Mary Hufford. 
Wed & Fri, 5:00-6:30 PM, Barrows 587. 4 units. (Class #32795)
This course introduces students to the history and organization of fairy tale studies, with special attention to transformations of fairy tale players, plots, and landscapes (especially forests) as these relate to root causes of, and narrative solutions to, present ecological crises. Using an ecofeminist framework we will bring anthropological and ecological perspectives to bear on textual and cinematic variants of classic fairy tales produced over the past four centuries, including Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Mother Holle, and Molly Whuppie.

Anthropology 217: Discourses and/of the Body. Professor Charles Briggs. 
Wed 11:00-1:00, Kroeber 219. 4 units. (Class #39701)
This course juxtaposes discourse analysis and approaches to health and biomedicine, querying how ideologies of language and communication provide implicit foundations for work on health, disease, medicine, and the body and how biopolitical discourses and practices inform constructions of discourse.

Anthropology 262B, Theories of Traditionality and Modernity, Professor Mary Hufford.
Wednesdays 3:00-5:00 PM, Kroeber 115. 4 units. (Class #22235)
What is needed for an “ecologically adequate” folklore hidden by modernity’s legacy of dualisms? This seminar explores emerging concepts and models for shaping interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral collaborative research through engagement with the kinds of expressive behavior and settings long affiliated with folklore, through readings including Arendt, Dewey, Bakhtin, Schutz, Merleau-Ponty, Bateson, Marx, and Bourdieu, Bauman, Bendix, Briggs, Cantwell, Dorst, Hafstein, Kapchan, Noyes, Shuman, Taylor, Titon, Young and others.

Music 247: Theorizing Music Heritage. Professor Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco. 
Fridays 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM. Hargrove 210. 4 units. (Class #41352)
Focusing primarily on Portugal, the seminar will address notions of authenticity, authorship and ownership; the use of heritage as a political tool and as an economic resource; the impact of UNESCO’s convention on national and regional legislation; cultural policy and government investment on safeguarding and promoting heritage; the tensions between the universal claims of heritage practice and national and regional perspectives; the uses of heritage by the tourist industry; the development of heritage industries; the impact of heritagization on the sustainability of music and dance traditions, performance practice and aesthetics.

History of Art 203: Seminar in Material Culture: The Interpretation of Objects. Professor Margaretta M Lovell. 
Mondays 2:00 pm - 4:59 pm; Doe Library 308B. 2 or 4 units. (Class #39364)
This seminar looks at both material culture theory and the many ways scholars understand, 'read,' and interpret objects. It draws on the practices and questions of multiple disciplines including archaeology, anthropology, cultural geography, and art history. It considers painting, architecture, works on paper, textiles, metal objects, ceramics, clothing, baskets, and objects of wood, We will consider the variety of ways and contexts in which objects have been understood to 'speak' as aesthetic vehicles and as cultural texts.

History 188C (Near Eastern Studies 188C): Magic, Religion, and Science: The Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Professor Maria Mavroudi, Assistant Professor Rita Lucarelli. 
Tues & Thurs, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM, Hearst Mining Hall 390. 4 units. (Class #39645)
This course will explore magic as an experimental science within the learned traditions of civilizations that we consider as fundamental for a modern Western identity: from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome to the medieval and early modern Middle East, Byzantium, and Europe. The primary sources used for this exploration will be texts on demons, magic, divination, and the sophisticated philosophical background to such beliefs. In addition, archeological remains pertinent to these practices such as talismans, amulets, and other magical objects will be discussed.

Theatre R1A 002: African American Folktales and Children’s Literature. Lashon Alexandra Daley.
Tues & Thurs 11:00-12:30, Dwinelle 89. 4 units. (Class #31012)
This course focuses on answering: What is African American folklore? What is African American children's literature? What purpose and function do they serve? As students read, write, and perform African American folktales and children’s literature, they will be developing their own stylistic voice and performance creativity. Accordingly, students will be required to develop and perform folktales from their own communities. Students will also significantly improve their ability to verbally communicate in performance and storytelling.

Chicano Studies 20 001: Introduction to Chicano Culture. Lecturer Pablo Gonzalez.
Tues & Thurs 9:30-11:00 AM, Barrow 180. 4 units. (Class #39435)
An introduction to the cultural life of Chicanos with its regional differences. Key themes are the symbols and cultural norms created by the historical interaction between Chicanos and American society as expressed in literature, art, music, and folklore. Attention will also be given to change and continuity in Chicano cultural norms on the basis of historical events.

Slavic 24: The Mystery and Fascination of the Balkans. Professor Ronelle Alexander.
Wednesday 11:00 AM-12:00 PM, Dwinelle 6307. 1 unit. (Class #39156)
The Balkans as a region have always fascinated Westerners, ranging from intrepid eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travelers seeking the exotica of “Turkey in Europe” to their modern cohorts who become enamored of Balkan culture, and especially its music. In this class we will explore two basic questions about the Balkans: What is it that makes the region such a land of contradictions and fascination? And why–especially after the intense media attention to the violent breakup of Yugoslavia–does it remain so little understood?

Celtic 129: Aspects of Modern Celtic Cultures and Folklore. Lecturer Thomas Walsh.
Mon, Wed, Fri 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Dwinelle 223. 4 units. (Class #39095)
Among the concerns of the course will be: the ideology of Celticism; the folklore of these cultures; the reception of Celtic material by modern mainstream culture in film and the other arts; the development of literary and other aesthetic forms in Celtic cultures, including fiction, drama, lyric, and other genres. Some working questions for us will be: “How are certain cultural forms and practices specific to modern Celtic cultures?” “How do those forms affect the non-Celtic mainstream in Europe and beyond Europe?” In what ways do Celtic cultures emerge as oppressed, under-represented, and exploited within the recent centuries of revolution and de-colonization?”

Scandinavian 160: Scandinavian Myth and Religion. Assistant Professor Jonas Wellendorf.
Mon, Wed, Fri 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Etchevery 3106. 4 units. (Class #32585)
Who were the Norse gods? Why did they have to die? And how do we know? This course presents a survey of Scandinavian myth and religion from prehistory through the conversion to Christianity (eleventh century), as illustrated in narrative and, to a lesser extent, archaeological materials. The approach will be primarily source-critical, with some use of comparative materials from other mythologies. By the end of the course, students should know the sources well, have an understanding of the major problems involved in this study, and be aware of the more important scholarly trends in the field.

Folklore Archive