Folklore Studies

Folklore Studies

 

the study of folklore, or folk arts. The scope of folklore studies and their place among the other disciplines have changed over the years in accordance with changing scholarly viewpoints. At times, folklore studies have been considered a branch of ethnology, and at other times, an offshoot of literary studies or musicology. They have also been viewed as an auxiliary discipline of such fields of study as sociology and the history of culture. Contemporary folklore studies are gradually becoming an independent discipline within the overall field of the arts, and their classification and methodology are being developed. Folklore studies investigate written works, songs, instrumental music, dance, drama, and other collective manifestations of folk creativity.

For centuries before the emergence of folklore studies, works of folklore were collected and recorded; they were also adapted by writers, playwrights, and composers in many countries. In Europe the 18th-century humanists promoted an interest in folklore. In Russia, humanist traditions found new expression in the folkloristic concepts of the 19th-century revolutionary democrats.

The study of folk art was also stimulated by the development of romanticism. Within romanticism, the mythological school of folklore studies was founded by the brothers J. Grimm and W. Grimm. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the main trends in folklore studies were the migration theory (theory of borrowing) of T. Benfey, the ethnological theory of E. B. Tylor (the anthropological school), the ethnopsychological method of W. Wundt, and the historical-geographical (Finnish) school of J. Krohn and K. Krohn. The greatest Russian folklorists included A. N. Afanas’ev, F. I. Buslaev, Aleksandr N. Veselovskii, P. V. Kireevskii, and A. N. Pypin. In the 20th century a sociological interpretation of folklore gained in importance; in Russia this approach became the historical school of V. F. Miller.

All the above trends used the methodology of evolutionism and positivism but at the same time were predecessors of the next stage in the development of folklore studies. The idealist trends in 20th-century folklore studies have been most clearly reflected in the psychoanalytic, neomythological, and ritual-magic schools of Western European and American folklore studies. In the mid-1950’s the structuralism of C. Lévi-Strauss became the main trend of folklore studies and the subject of sharp polemics.

The dialectical materialist study of folklore is based on the classics of Marxism, as seen in studies by P. Lafargue, F. Mehring, A. Gramsci, G. V. Plekhanov, A. V. Lunacharskii, and M. Gorky, as well as by many Soviet folklorists and foreign Marxist scholars. The founders of Soviet folklore studies included M. K. Azadovskii, V. M. Zhirmunskii, K. V. Kvitka, B. V. Asaf ev, V. la. Propp, B. M. Sokolov, and Iu. M. Sokolov.

Soviet Marxist folklorists in the USSR and in the other socialist countries view folklore as a socially conditioned and continuously developing form of folk creativity. They study the unique features and mutual influences of the folklore of different peoples, focusing on the reflection in the folk arts of actual life, of national liberation movements, and of revolutionary struggles. Special attention is devoted to folklore traditions that have persisted in modern times. Soviet Marxist folklore studies also help assimilate progressive folk traditions into socialist art. Numerous works of folklore are being collected, and new methodological techniques are being used, as well as new technical means of recording and interpreting works of folklore. The modern tendency toward an integrated study of the various types of folk art suggests that folklore studies will eventually become a synthetic discipline.

The main international folkloristic organizations are the Folklore Fellows, the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore of UNESCO, and the International Folk Music Council. The folkloristic organizations in the USSR are the Scientific Council on Folklore of the Department of Literature and Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the All-Union Folklore Commission of the Composers’ Union of the USSR.

REFERENCES

Chicherov, V. I. “Marks-Engel’s o fol’klore.” Sovetskii fol’klor, 1936, nos. 4–5.
Fridlender, G. M. K. Marks i F. Engel’s i voprosy literatury, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Leninskoe nasledie i izuchenie fol’klora [Sb.]. Leningrad, 1970.
Cocchiara, G. lstoriia fol’kloristiki v Evrope. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from Italian.)
Gusev, V. E. Problemy fol’klora v istorii estetiki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Meletinskii, E. “Voprosy teorii eposa v sovremennoi zarubezhnoi nauke.” Voprosy literatury, 1957, no. 2.
Zemlianova, L. M. Sovremennaia amerikanskaia fol’kloristika: Teoreticheskie napravleniia i tendentsii. Moscow, 1975.
Putilov, B. N. Metodologiia sravnitel’no-istoricheskogo izucheniia fol’klora. Leningrad, 1976.
Pypin, A. N. lstoriia russkoi etnografii, vols. 1–4. St. Petersburg, 1890–92.
Azadovskii, M. K. lstoriia russkoi fol’kloristiki, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1958–63.
Bandarchyk, V. K. Historyia belaruskai etnahrafii XIX st. Minsk, 1964.
Dei, O. I. Storinky z istorii ukrains’koi fol’klorystyky. Kiev, 1975.
Sokolova, V. K. “Sovetskaia fol’kloristika k 50-letiiu Oktiabria.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1967, no. 5.
Gatsak, V. M. “Fol’kloristika Sovetskogo Soiuza za 50 let.” Izv. AN ASSR: Otdeleniie literatury i iazyka, 1972, vol. 31, fasc. 6.

V. E. GUSEV

References in periodicals archive ?
McNeill co-founded the Utah State University Folklore Society and published Folklore Rules: A Fun, Quick, and Useful Introduction to the Field of Academic Folklore Studies.
The age of imperialism also shaped folklore studies.
Roland Paul, former director of an institute for Palatinate history and folklore studies, researched the affair and presented his findings to German media.
Larduet presents a third way, closer in spirit to American folklore studies, in which he weaves together documentary and oral history sources to describe the expansion of a religious community in one city.
Like Bill, Simon has done much to promote folklore studies and to bring folklorists together in constructive dialogue.
Had Pukkila used better scholarship to weave together sociology of religion and folklore studies, The Skill of a Seeker could have been a fantastic resource.
Buccitelli offers an in-depth consideration of de Certeau's scholarship on the history of folklore studies in France, arguing that an examination of his treatment of this history can usefully inform our understanding of his larger theoretical program.
Language and particularly folklore studies dominate the book, leaving archaeology, the traditionally prevailing discipline in Viking Age research, somewhat in the background.
Leary (Birgit Baldwin Professor of Scandinavian Studies, a professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, and a cofounder of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a seminal work of impressively detailed scholarship throughout and must be considered an essential, core addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Music Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
It will examine how the scope of folklore studies expanded from folksongs to folk customs and other forms of folk literature by focusing on early folklorists' activities, folklore organizations, and primary publications.
A seminal figure in Michigan folklore studies for more than 40 years, Beck made significant contributions to our understanding of the state's people and culture.