Folklore (FOLK)

FOLK 022 World Music and Cultures

This course examines how we as consumers in the "Western" world engage with musical difference largely through the products of the global entertainment industry. We examine music cultures in contact in a variety of ways-- particularly as traditions in transformation. Students gain an understanding of traditional music as live, meaningful person-to-person music making, by examining the music in its original site of production, and then considering its transformation once it is removed, and recontextualized in a variety of ways. The purpose of the course is to enable students to become informed and critical consumers of "World Music" by telling a series of stories about particular recordings made with, or using the music of, peoples culturally and geographically distant from the US. Students come to understand that not all music downloads containing music from unfamiliar places are the same, and that particular recordings may be embedded in intriguing and controversial narratives of production and consumption. At the very least, students should emerge from the class with a clear understanding that the production, distribution, and consumption of world music is rarely a neutral process.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Muller

Course usually offered in fall term

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 029 Gender, Sexuality, & Religion

What does it mean to be a Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, or spiritual woman or man? How important are the gender differences in deciding social roles, ritual activities, and spiritual vocations? How does gender intersect with nationality, language, and politics? This course tackles all of these questions, showing how gender- it's definition and the way it is taught and performed- is central to understanding religion. In this course we will learn about women's and men's rituals, social roles, and mythologies in specific religious traditions. We will also look at the central significance of gender to the field of religious studies generally, with particular attention to non- binary genders. The first part of the course will be focused on building a foundation of knowledge about a range of religious traditions and the role of women in those traditions. This course emphasizes religious traditions outside the West. Although it is beyond the scope of this class to offer comprehensive discussions of any one religious tradition, the aim is to provide entry points into the study of religious traditions through the lens of gender. This course will emphasize both historical perspectives and contemporary contexts. We will read religion through a variety of feminist and queer theory lenses- exploring the key characteristics of diverse feminist analyses of religion, as well as limits of specific feminist approaches.

Taught by: Robb

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 106 Studies in African-American Music

This course explores aspects of the origins, style development, aesthetic philosophies, historiography, and contemporary conventions of African-American musical traditions. Beginning with the African legacy, we situate the conceptual approaches of African American music within the larger African Diaspora. The course provides a foundation for the advanced study of the various strains of black musics to appear in the United States. Covering the 19th and 20th centuries, we explore the socio-political contexts and cultural imperatives of black music from a multidisciplinary perspective (musicology, ethnomusicology, linguistics, African-American literary criticism, cultural studies, history, anthropology). The range of genres, styles, idioms, and time periods include: the music of West and Central Africa, the music of colonial America, 19th century church and dance music, minstrelsy, music of the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, blues, gospel, hip-hop, and film music. Special attention is given to the ways in which black music generates "meaning" and to how the social energy circulating within black music articulates myriad issues about American identity at specific historical moments.

Taught by: Ramsey

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 158 Musics of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Hispanics in the U.S.

This survey course considers Latin American musics within a broad cultural and historical framework. Latin American musical practices are explored by illustrating the many ways that aesthetics, ritual, communication, religion, and social structure are embodied in and contested through performance. These initial inquiries open onto an investigation of a range of theoretical concepts that become particularly pertinent in Latin American contexts^K-concepts such as post-colonialism, migration, ethnicity, and globalization. Throughout the course, we will listen to many different styles and repertories of music and then work to understand them not only in relation to the readings that frame our discussions but also in relation to our own, North American contexts of music consumption and production.

Taught by: Rommen

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 201 American Folklore

This course will examine American expressive culture, including everyday speech, narrative, music, foodways, religion, public celebrations, and material culture through an exploration of the multiple and changing avenues of diversity in the United States. Folklore can be considered the unofficial culture that exists beneath and between the institutions of power that we read about in our history books, and that is what we will be studying--the 99% of American life that goes unseen and unnoticed in other college courses. Some of the topics we will examine are: campus folklore; body art and adornment; contemporary (urban) legends and beliefs; public celebrations and rituals; and the adaptation and commodification of folk culture in popular media.

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 229 Myth in Society

In this course we will explore the mythologies of selected peoples in the Ancient Near East, Africa, Asia, and Native North and South America and examine how the gods function in the life and belief of each society. The study of mythological texts will be accompanied, as much as possible, by illustrative slides that will show the images of these deities in art and ritual.

Taught by: Ben-Amos

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 231 American Popular Culture

The course will explore the history and practice of popular culture and culture studies in the United States. We will begin by challenging the concepts of "folk," "mass" and "popular" as well as "American" and "culture." Furthermore, we will interrogate various media such as television, film, music, comics and popular romances to gain insights into the conditions for the reproduction of social relations. Through an analysis of audience response to performed or viewed events we will explore how and why people actively negotiate and interpret popular materials. This class will attempt to situate popular culture within a larger social, cultural and political framework. Some areas of popular culture we may investigate include MTV, talk shows, fashion, club cultures, rap and other musics, snaps, pro-wrestling, professional sports, Hollywood movies, advertising, McDonald's and there will be room to explore other areas students may find interesting. We will end by looking into the exportation of American popular culture and its reception, interpretation, adaptation and consumption around the world.

Taught by: Lee

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 240 Fairy Tales

This course surveys the fairy tale (M rchen) as an oral narrative genre, and in its transformations as literature, sequential art, and film. Topics include classic and contemporary collections from Europe, the United States, and beyoond;issues of "authenticity" and the ownership of tales; fairy tales as folk performance, post-modern pastiche, and material culture; and the genre's relationship to geography, gender, power, and desire. This course will serve as a scholarly introduction to the field of Fairy-Tale Studies. And it may examine works from Matthew Bright, Angela Carter, Emma Donoghue, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, David Kaplan, and Bill Willingham.

Course not offered every year

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

FOLK 241 Great Story Collections

This course is intended for those with no prior background in folklore or knowledge of various cultures. Texts range in age from the first century to the twentieth, and geographically from the Middle East to Europe to the United States. Each collection displays various techniques of collecting folk materials and making them concerete. Each in its own way also raises different issues of genre, legitimacy, canon formation, cultural values and context.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Azzolina

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 252 Themes in Jewish Tradition

Course topics will vary; they have included The Binding of Isaac, Responses to Catastrophes in Jewish History, Holy Men & Women (Ben-Amos); Rewriting the Bible (Dohrmann); Performing Judaism (Fishman); Jewish Political Thought (Fishman); Jewish Esotericism (Lorberbaum) Democratic culture assumes the democracy of knowledge - the accessibility of of knowledge and its transparency. Should this always be the case? What of harmful knowledge? When are secrets necessary? In traditional Jewish thought, approaching the divine has often assumed an aura of danger. Theological knowledge was thought of as restricted. This seminar will explore the "open" and "closed" in theological knowledge, as presented in central texts of the rabbinic tradition: the Mishnah, Maimonides and the Kabbalah. Primary sources will be available in both Hebrew and English.

For BA Students: History and Tradition Sector

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

FOLK 270 Folklore and Sexuality

Sexuality is usually thought of as being biological or social, divided into categories of natural and unnatural. Often misssed are its creative and communicative aspects. Examining the constructed social elements of sexuality requires attention be paid to folklore in groups, between individuals and on the larger platform of popular technological media. The most interesting locations for exploration are those places where borderlands or margins, occur between genders, orientations and other cultural categories. A field-based paper will be required that must include documentary research.

Taught by: Azzolina

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 280 Jewish Folklore

The Jews are among the few nations and ethnic groups whose oral tradition occurs in literary and religious texts dating back more than two thousand years. This tradition changed and diversified over the years in terms of the migrations of Jews into different countries and the historical, social, and cultural changes that these countries underwent. The course attempts to capture the historical and ethnic diversity of Jewish folklore in a variety of oral literary forms. A basic book of Hasidic legends from the 18th century will serve as a key text to explore problems in Jewish folklore relating to both earlier and later periods.

Taught by: Ben-Amos

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 406 Folklore and the Supernatural

Some beliefs in the supernatural have not diminished appreciably in modern cultures, in spite of many predictions that they would do so. This course will examine traditional beliefs about supernatural beings, supernatural realms, and humans who interact with these, as well as the historical development of Western ideas of "the supernatural" itself.

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 420 Culture, Communication, and Body Language

Our perception and interpretation of body language is often subliminal, but is crucial in all communication. This course will develop skills in observation and analysis of nonverbal behavior, with a particular emphasis on cross cultural communication. In contemporary society, the analysis of nonverbal communication has applications in education, psychology, business, advertising, medicine, police work, the justice system, the military, religion, sports, and politics. As video and digital cameras are increasingly being placed in public (and private!) locations, the ethical questions of why, how, and by whom body movements and images are analyzed become a topic of primary importance for society. Clothing, scents, gestures, eye contact, silence, music, dance, the built environment -- all are used to construct relationships and develop markets for the new century. Readings from a number of disciplinary perspectives will give us the opportunity to investigate these and other issues related to the body and to nonverbal communication in multicultural societies.

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 436 Urban Folklore

This course examines the emergent aesthetic and expressive traditions of urban environments. Cities are unique places with a wide range of folkloric traditions, including neighborhood stories, ethnic festivals, and folk art. We will examine the material, customary, and verbal traditions that emerge in everyday life, including contemporary legends, urban agriculture and food ways, public displays and celebrations, body art, children s play, and Philadelphia s ethnic arts. We will consider how these contemporary practices may be understood within a traditional folklore framework, as well as what these practices reveal about contemporary values, anxieties, and concerns. Course work will involve local field observations and will be of use to anyone studying human interaction, creative processes, or urban ethnography.

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 485 Japanese Theatre

Japan has one of the richest and most varied theatrical traditions in the world. In this course, we will examine Japanese theater in historical and comparative contexts. The readings and discussions will cover all areas of the theatrical experience (script, acting, stage design, costumes, music, audience). Audio-visual material will be used whenever appropriate and possible. The class will be conducted in English, with all English materials.

Taught by: Kano

Course usually offered in spring term

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

FOLK 499 Independent Study

Directed study at the senior level.

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Independent Study

1 Course Unit

FOLK 531 Prose Narrative

Historical, literary, comparative, and ethnographic methods contribute to study of prose narratives which were told in oral societies in antiquity and in modern times and were documented in literary societies for different purposes. Oral storytellers, both professional and amateurs, performed them in private and public spaces. Their recording from antiquity to modern times became an integral element of modern life in general and in education and arts in particular. The storytellers, their performances in oral and literary cultures, their genres, and their symbolic meanings are the subjects of the course, together with the analytical methods that help mapping their distribution worldwide.

Taught by: Ben-Amos

Course not offered every year

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

FOLK 532 Proverb, Riddle and Speech Metaphor

Through readings and collaborative projects this working seminar will explore the place of metaphor in the genres of proverb and riddle and examine their position in oral communication in traditional and modern societies. Critical readings of former definitions and models of riddles and metaphors will enable students to obtain a comprehensive perspective of these genres that will synthesize functional, structural, metaphoric, and rhetoric theories.

Taught by: Ben-Amos

Course not offered every year

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

FOLK 541 Academic Writing and Research Design in the Arts and Sciences

Have you ever noticed that scholars in different academic disciplines seem to speak different languages? Have you wondered how scholars put together a plan for their research, explain their findings, and organize and write their papers? This class is designed to introduce MLA students and other advanced students to the research and writing conventions used by scholars in the arts and sciences. With attention to disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, we will identify and explore some of the theories, sources, language, and qualitative and quantitative methodologies that scholars use as they conduct original research in their fields. Throughout the class, we'll also discuss writing conventions across the arts and sciences, with special attention to the structure of argument; the use of evidence; voice and style in both traditional academic writing and more innovative forms of writing; and documentation conventions. Students will develop an original research project through incremental writing assignments, and will write a formal research proposal (15-20 pages), which can be used as their Capstone proposal if they wish.

Taught by: Rabberman

Course not offered every year

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 706 Culture/Power/Identities

This course will introduce students to a conceptual language and the theoretical tools to analyze the complex dynamics of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, and class differences. The students will critically examine the interrelationships between culture, power, and identities through the recent contributions in cultural studies, critical pedagogy and post-structuralist theory and will explore the usefulness of these ideas for improving their own work as researchers and as practitioners.

Taught by: Hall

Course usually offered in fall term

Activity: Lecture

1 Course Unit

FOLK 999 Independent Study and Research

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Independent Study

1 Course Unit