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What is Folklore?


This seminar is an overture to the module. In it, we will consider the nature of folklore and its value to the historian. We will also begin to discuss issues which we will return to across the module.

Seminar Questions

What is folklore?

What can the historian learn from the study of folklore?

What are the key issues which the historian of folklore needs to address?

Required Reading

Baycroft, Timothy, 'Introduction' in Timothy Baycroft and David Hopkin, eds, Folklore and Nationalism in Europe during the Long Nineteenth Century (Leiden, 2012)

Bendix, Regina F., and Galit Hasan-Rokem, 'Introduction' and 'Introduction to Part I', in Regina F. Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem, eds, A Companion to Folklore (Malden, MA, 2012)

Bronner, Simon J., Folklore: The Basics (London, 2017), Introduction and Chapter One.

Pooley, William G., 'Native to the Past: History, Anthropology, and Folklore in Past and Present', Past & Present 239: 1 (2018), e1–e15

Further Reading

Bell, Karl, The Legend of Spring-Heeled Jack: Victorian Urban Folklore and Popular Cultures (London, 2012)

Bendix, Regina F., and Galit Hasan-Rokem, eds, A Companion to Folklore (Malden, MA, 2012)

Bennett, Margaret, ed., Scottish Customs: From the Cradle to the Grave (Edinburgh, 1992)

Blank, Trevor J., ed., Folk Culture in the Digital Age: The Emergent Dynamics of Human Interaction (Logan, UT, 2012)

Bronner, Simon J., Folklore: The Basics (London, 2017)

Burke, Peter, 'History and Folklore: A Historiographical Survey', Folklore 115/2 (2004), 133–139

Hobsbawm, Eric, 'Introduction: Inventing Traditions' in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983)

Kingshill, Sophia, and Jennifer Westwood, The Fabled Coast: Legends and Traditions from Around the Shores of Britain and Ireland (London, 2014)

Lindahl, Carl, John McNamara and John Lindow, eds, Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs, 2 vols (Oxford, 2000)

Norman, Mark, Telling the Bees and Other Customs: The Folklore of Rural Crafts (Cheltenham, 2020)

Ó Giolláin, Diarmuid, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (Cork, 2000)

Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí, The Lore of Ireland: An Encyclopaedia of Myth, Legend and Romance (Woodbridge, 2006)

Owen, Trefor M., Welsh Folk Customs (Cardiff, 1959)

Rees, Gareth E., Unofficial Britain: Journeys through Unexpected Places (London, 2020)

Roud, Steve, The English Year: A Month-by-Month Guide to the Nation's Customs and Festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night (Harmondsworth, 2008)

Roud, Steve, The Lore of the Playground: One Hundred Years of Children's Games, Rhymes and Traditions (London, 2010)

Roud, Steve, The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland (Harmondsworth, 2003)

Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud, A Dictionary of English Folklore (Oxford, 2003)

Simpson, Jacqueline, Green Men & White Swans: The Folklore of British Pub Names (London, 2010)

Vickery, Roy, Vickery's Folk Flora: An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants (London, 2019)

Walsham, Alexandra, 'Recording Superstition in Early Modern Britain: The Origins of Folklore', Past & Present 199, supplement 3 (2008), 178–206

Westwood, Jennifer, and Jacqueline Simpson, The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys (Harmondsworth, 2005)

Westwood, Jennifer, and Sophia Kingshill, The Lore of Scotland: A Guide to Scottish Legends (London, 2009)

Wood, Juliette, 'Perceptions of the Past in Welsh Folklore Studies', Folklore 108:1-2, (1997), 93-102

Eric Ravilious, The Westbury Horse, 1939

Eric Ravilious, The Westbury Horse, 1939