I am teaching a seminar in the fall of 2016 on the ways in which folklorists and others have represented the cultural products of other people. That is a very complicated way to say that I hope we’ll explore what people say about other people. The seminar topic is informed, of course, by the seminal works of the Writing Culture scholars in Anthropology (led by James Clifford and George Marcus), but Folklore Studies is a much older discipline than American anthropology, and in the seminar we’ll be reaching back into medieval and Enlightenment materials and moving forward from there. Both in Europe and the United States, further, folklore has been used to assert or bolster ideas of national identity, not just exotic otherness, and we will examine those aspects of the materials we look at as well. And we will look at the effects that medium has on such representations–i.e., what happens when a representation of another’s culture is not a text but rather a film, or website, or computer game?
Students in the seminar will be posting their own responses to the materials we discuss, but I will try to share my views via this blog for folks who want to join in the conversation, or just listen in….