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Putting Folklore To Use

Putting Folklore To Use

Michael Owen Jones Editor
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Putting Folklore To Use
    Book Description:

    The first book of its kind,Putting Folklore to Useprovides guidance to folklorists but also informs practitioners in other fields about how to use folklore studies to augment their own studies. How can acting like a folklore fieldworker help a teacher reduce inter-group stereotyping and increase student's self-esteem? How can adopting a folklore fieldworker's point of view when interviewing patients help practitioners render health care more effectively? How can using folklore research help rural communities survive and thrive?

    Thirteen folklorists provide answers to these and other questions and demonstrate the many ways folklore can be put to use. Their essays, commissioned for this volume and edited by Michael Owen Jones, apply the methods and insights of modern folklore research to thirteen different professions and areas of practical concern. The authors, all of whom have themselves put folklore to use in the fields they describe, consider applications in detail and explain how folkloristic concepts and techniques can enhance the work of various professions. They explore applications in such areas as museums, aiding the homeless, environmental planning, art therapy, designing public spaces, organization development, tourism, the public sector, aging, and creating an occupation's image.

    In an extensive introduction to the volume, Jones provides an overview of applied folkloristics that defines the field, surveys its history in the United States, and scrutinizes its basic issues and premises. Part I of the book shows how to promote learning, problem solving, and cultural conservation through folklore and its study. Part II deals with folklorists helping to improve the quality of life. Part III reveals folklore's role in enhancing identity and community.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4770-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Applying Folklore Studies: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-42)
    Michael Owen Jones

    Folklore has been the object of curiosity, documentation, and speculation for centuries. Plutarch (40-120 A.D.), author ofRoman Questions,wrote the first formal treatise on folklore, grappling with the origins and meanings of a people’s beliefs and customs just as contemporary folklorists do. The eighteenth-century Scottish poet Robert Burns collected ballads and composed poetry in the “folk” idiom, much as did American folksong revivalists in the 1960s, some of whom became well-known folklorists. The brothers Grimm recorded tales from the lips of their housekeeper, Frau Katherina Viehmann, publishing them and others in the two-volumeKinderund Hausmiirchen(1812-1815), in which they...

  5. PART I. Promoting Learning, Problem Solving, and Cultural Conservation

    • 1 How Can Acting Like A Fieldworker Enrich Pluralistic Education?
      (pp. 45-61)
      Judith E. Haut

      While living on the island of Saipan in 1975 I began to investigate how children perceived their own ethnic identities, I interviewing the members of a sixth grade class at a local elementary school. Most of the children in the class were Chamorro, Saipan’s indigeneous inhabitants. A few were Carolinian, their families originally from the Caroline Islands in Micronesia.

      I found that the children evaluated themselves negatively in contrast with Americans but positively in relation to all other groups we discussed—Koreans, Japanese, and other Micronesians. The most upsetting comparison to American children was from one eleven-year-old boy who said,...

    • 2 Folklore in Museums: Issues and Applications
      (pp. 62-75)
      Jo Farb Hernandez

      Recent years have witnessed a surge in the numbers of museum exhibitions focusing on or including folkloristic artifacts and themes. The numbers of folklorists on museum staffs or serving as advisory consultants for exhibitions, interpretative programs, and collection acquisitions have also grown dramatically. These trends have not been limited to living history or folklife museums but have become manifest across the range of museum types, sizes, and area of concern. The issues raised by these folklorists or in these exhibitions parallel folkloristic research in academia and in other public sector fields. (I have in mind such matters as those concerning...

    • 3 Aiding the Homeless: Using Narratives in Diagnosis and Intervention
      (pp. 76-93)
      Marjorie Bard

      The United Nations officially designated 1987 as the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. Those involved in the fields of public and social policy released startling statistics concerning the ever-rising homeless population in this country. Although government officials noted the need for shelters, food, clothing, and services, they implemented widespread cutbacks in funding that adversely affected the homeless.

      Why did the shocking statistics not serve to motivate the federal administration to aid the homeless? One reason might be that officeholders prefer funding military projects to human welfare programs. But also the numbers may have lacked impact because they were...

    • 4 Folklife, Cultural Conservation, and Environmental Planning
      (pp. 94-114)
      Benita J. Howell

      Environmental planning offers varied opportunities for folklorists and cultural anthropologists like me to use our knowledge of distinctive ethnic and regional subcultures, ethnographic research techniques, and the interpersonal skills cultivated through fieldwork to help resolve practical problems. Within the broad domain of environmental planning, cultural specialists contribute to various activities that may be grouped into two categories: cultural resource management and social impact assessment.

      In order to protect resources,cultural resource managementprograms use archeological and architectural as well as folklife studies to inventory resources; determine their significance, i.e., their contribution to national, state, or local heritage; and compile thorough...

  6. PART II. Improving the Quality of Life

    • 5 Folklore and Medicine
      (pp. 117-135)
      David J. Hufford

      In the conventional view, folk medical beliefs and practices are a cultural vestige influencing only isolated populations in the United States and new immigrants from less developed countries. Such a notion stems from the idea that folklore itself consists largely of obsolete information and ways of doing things from past times. This conventional idea of the prevalence and nature of folk medicine is quite inaccurate.

      “Folk medicine” refers to those health-related beliefs and practices that have a traditional existence alongside an official, politically dominant system of medicine. Of course, “official” is a term rooted in context. It is used here...

    • 6 Democratizing Art Therapy
      (pp. 136-149)
      Kristin G. Congdon

      In October of 1975, I found myself faced with a new job and a new challenge. I was to teach art classes to women inmates in the Milwaukee County Jail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although educational programs in prisons are now plentiful (in quantity if not quality), at that time there was only one other similar jail program, in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh program was stated to be therapeutic in design, while our program emphasized an educational approach. Working in a jail, as opposed to a prison, is more difficult in several aspects. The population is diverse in terms of crimes, the...

    • 7 Designing Public Spaces for People’s Symbolic Uses
      (pp. 150-161)
      Sara Selene Faulds

      For more than a century, ethnographers have chronicled and interpreted planned and spontaneous ritual performances, parades, cultural and culinary festivals, dramas, and other community events. While this research continues, the focus has expanded to include in more detail the settings that serve as stage or backdrop for these public performances—including’ the buildings, environments, and situations in which expressive or symbolic behavior is manifested.

      We engage in behaviors in our public environments that invest spaces and forms with special meanings. We manipulate public spaces to express ourselves creatively, to perform for others, to disseminate and encourage our group culture and...

    • 8 A Folklorist’s Approach to Organizational Behavior (OB) and Organization Development (OD)
      (pp. 162-186)
      Michael Owen Jones

      Recently the friend of a disgruntled employee at a financial institution gave me a document from work. It is an interoffice memorandum from “The Management Advisory Committee” addressed to “All Employees.” The memo’s subject is “Creating a More Professional Environment.”

      “In an effort to provide the Firm with consistency and a professional atmosphere, we are in the process of developing a Policy Manual,” reads the first sentence. “In advance of your receipt of the manual in its entirety, certain sections will be sent to you as they are developed. The following are some current guidelines aimed at improving our environment.”...

    • 9 Moving Toward Responsible Tourism: A Role for Folklore
      (pp. 187-198)
      Elke Dettmer

      Each year millions of people turn into tourists. By the year 2000 tourism is expected to be the largest economic factor worldwide. Tourism serves deep-seated needs of industrial, urban people; it results in culture contacts that have changed folk cultures more profoundly than any revolution or ideology. Unrestrained tourism can cause irreversible damage to fragile natural and cultural environments, the very sources it depends on. Pollution, overcrowded resorts, and resentful native populations are byproducts of developments motivated by profit. Nevertheless many underdeveloped Third World countries and peripheral rural regions of industrialized nations, such as the Canadian province of Newfoundland, which...

  7. PART III. Enhancing Identity and Community

    • 10 Serving the Public: An Assessment of Work in Public Sector Folklore
      (pp. 201-213)
      Betty J. Belanus

      Folklore applied to the public sector is nothing new in the United States. Whether one traces the birth of this work back to Henry Schoolcraft in the 1840s or Benjamin Botkin in the 1930s, most folklorists will agree that the public sector folklore “boom” of the 1970s and 1980s has firm roots in the history of the discipline. What is relatively new is the large number of academically trained folklorists being hired on a temporary or permanent basis by national, state, regional, and local agencies. The projects and programs these folklorists carry out range from focused internships to general surveys...

    • 11 Promoting Self-Worth among the Aging
      (pp. 214-225)
      David Shuldiner

      Within the communities they study, folklorists have long sought out aged members as rich sources of cultural information. In doing so, these fieldworkers have tended to reinforce (or reassert) a traditional veneration of the aging. Yet, equally important, the process of encouraging elders to talk about themselves and their communities has served as an important source of personal validation for older community members. In developing public cultural programs for older adults—first as the Connecticut Humanities Council scholar-in-residence at the Connecticut State Department on Aging [CSDA], and presently as the humanities program coordinator with the CSDA—I have made ample...

    • 12 Reflecting and Creating an Occupation’s Image
      (pp. 226-239)
      Sue Samuelson

      When folklorists move from academe or public sector work to take jobs in the business world, the path is not always a straight one. Before assuming my current public relations position with an association representing county governments, I meandered through several fields of folklore-related activity. Those jobs included government contract work, consulting for arts organizations, and temporary teaching positions. I had seven jobs or consultancies in the three years following completion of my doctorate in folklore. These post-Ph.D. travails were not what I expected, but they represent a common pattern for young scholars, a kind of school of hard knocks...

    • 13 Helping Craftsmen and Communities Survive: Folklore and Economic Development
      (pp. 240-250)
      Patricia Atkinson Wells

      In the two decades following the publication of Michael Owen Jones’s seminal article “Folk Craft Production and the Folklorist’s Obligation” (1970), folklorists have been plagued by the problem of how simultaneously to insure the economic survival of individual folk artisans and to preserve the traditions and culture of which they are a part. Much has been written on the history and impact of crafts assistance programs in the United States and on the role of the folklorist in marketing folk art, most notably in a special issue ofNew York Folklore(1986). However, we are still faced with the fundamental...

  8. About the Authors
    (pp. 251-255)
  9. Index
    (pp. 256-264)