Fall 2009 Course Descriptions

Folklore C262A
Theories of Traditionality and Modernity
Jay Mechling
This seminar explores the philosophical foundations for the study of everyday life and examines the ways notable scholars from several disciplines (philosophy, rhetorical criticism, psychology, sociology, anthropology, folklore, and history) have theorized taken-for-granted experience. American Pragmatic philosophy runs through the readings, from William James to Kenneth Burke, Peter Berger, Gregory Bateson, Erving Goffman, Clifford Geertz, Richard Rorty, and Roger Abrahams. Pragmatic theory leads to certain critical practices, so the seminar looks at a sample of folklore studies, including those by Barbara Myeroff, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, and Simon Bronner. These case studies show how folklorists approach the relationship between traditionality and modernity. Students have the opportunity to work on their own topics, practicing using the ideas and approaches learned in the seminar.
Slavic Languages and Literature 147B
Balkan Folklore
Ronelle Alexander
section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes

The area of the Balkans is rich in all aspects of traditional culture. The Parry-Lord theory of oral composition was developed on the basis of extensive field work among South Slavic epic singers, and its origins can be best understood by examining South Slavic epic song in some detail. Many aspects of oral tradition are still alive and well in the Balkans, and the study of this tradition is useful in understanding the intimate and emotional relations of Balkan peoples to their own histories. The mix of peoples and cultures in the Balkans is exceptionally variegated, and this is particularly evident in the variety of musical traditions throughout the Balkans. By tradition, each small area has its own characteristic music styles; recently various of these styles have also taken on political import. Slavic 147B studies these two topics in detail, and also surveys folktales and customs of the Balkans. The majority of the course deals with South Slavic material, but elements of Albanian, Hungarian, Romanian and Greek folklore are also considered. This course is of interest to students of Slavic languages and literatures, folklorists, anthropologists, musicologists and students of Balkan history and culture.


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