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This course examines distinctive cultural regions throughout North America and the lifeways of the peoples living there. Students will conduct fieldwork.
This course is ostensibly a study of vernacular experience and everyday life. It could be argued that if one were to divide “folklore” (either the discipline or that which the discipline studies) into two parts, on one side would be folk literature (as broadly understood, encompassing song, narrative, jokes, etc.), and on the other side would be folklife. One could understand the former as the domain of collectors, and the latter as the domain of ethnographers; the former is text, the latter context. These distinctions will prove to be false, but provide a good starting point for discussion. Through readings and short writing assignments based on observation and/or reflection, this course will explore various aspects of everyday experience.
Short assignment. The leisure and play activities of a group of a culture often simultaneously reaffirm and transgress patterns within the culture at times of non-play. Describe the sport and/or leisure activity of a particular group. What is its history within the group? Who participates directly? Who (if anyone) observes)? Are there elements within the play that seem to contravene prevailing attitudes? What does that activity suggest about the self-perception of the group?
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