Folklore and folklife plays a role in everybody''s life

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Mini-Ethnography 1: Interviewing & Collecting Guidelines

Folklore and folklife plays a role in everybody's life. However, some people have an especially profound relationship with some kind of local culture and artful expression. Choose a person or persons as the subject/subjects of your study to discover how a person engages in folklore in everyday life.

Ideally, the persons you choose should not be a relative or close friend. I say "ideally" because being too close to the subject or a member of the same culture group might shift your role from being an ethnographic scholar to writing an autobiographic experience-which is not the point. One aspect of this assignment is to get to know the worldview of somebody who is different from you. Learn about a tradition, a story, etc., and an aesthetic that might be different from yours.

You must provide informant and contextual data that will make analysis of the item or text possible for any potential archive user. At this point you will not need to analyze the items themselves. Your next assignment will ask you to analyze and determine the functions of the lore. Remember that different kinds of items (beliefs, legends, songs, jokes, etc.) will require different kinds of background data on both the informant and the item. Try to give information that will make the item as understandable and useful as possible.

Given the short turn around for summer courses, I recommend collecting 3 narratives that are generically similar from 3 different informants (3 narratives from 2 informants is acceptable). Possible genres: belief narratives, legends, ghost stories, P.E.N., etc., that reflect a theme: college rumors, conspiracy theories about the disappearance of Lauren Spierer, college sport songs (e.g., I collected quite a few songs/chants from the IU Men's Rugby team), urban legends, ghost stories, traditional folktales from another country, etc.

As an alternative, you may wish to collect items from the other branches of folklore but given the short time of the summer session, I suspect that might be more difficult. If you wish to collect items of lore such as limericks, proverbial, riddles, songs, jokes, verbal expressions, non-verbal expressions, superstitions and their application, taunts, teases, etc. You will need a minimum of 6 items. If you wish to do material culture, please consult the professor and the graduate assistant.

For the INTERVIEW Write-Up (50 points) you must:

Describe each person in great detail. First, describe the person. Who is s/he? How old is s/he? Where does s/he live? What is your relationship to her/him? Why is this person appropriate for this project? Provide as much information here as you can. (Suggestion: look at the Indiana University Folklore Archives Donation Form to make sure you have all the necessary contextual information for your collection).
Identify the genre of lore with which she or he is involved. Use the words of your informant and listen carefully to the way s/he defines and categorizes the lore. Ask yourself, would you use the same terms to identify the genre? Interview your informants about where they got the lore and in what context do they perform the lore. Get as much data as possible.
Your interview report should be 850 (only 10% more or less will be accepted without penalty; double-space; font 12). The essay should contain the following:
Introduction (0-10 points): Explain the assignment and provide contextual information about the informant.
Approach (0-10 points): Discuss the way you met, what you talked about and how you assess the information you gathered about the lore you collected.
Discussion (0-30 points): How do you categorize the collection? What are the features, patterns? What are library research do you need to conduct to interpret the folklore and discuss the worldview of the folk group to which the items of lore belong? This discussion will help the reader see the direction you plan to go to complete the Analysis component which will come at the end of the summer session (see guidelines in Canvas).
Prospective bibliography (0-10 points): Include a prospective bibliography of 3 academic resources about studies related to your genre or folk group that might be used for your next project, INTERPRETING FOLKLORE. An academic resource is one that has been peer reviewed, such as professional journals (Journal of American Folklore or the Journal of Folklore Research) or academic presses like Oxford University Press, Indiana University Press or Routledge. Good search vehicles use include:,, or (????????)). Newspapers, magazines, blogs, websites are not peer-reviewed. Some might be good sources but you would have to demonstrate how it is academic--why make the project harder than you have to?
Works cited format should be MLA style (see : (????????) )

For the Collection (45 points) you must:

Get permission. Your project may be archived in the Folklore Archives at IU so future researchers will have access to it and be able to learn about the person you interviewed. In order to do this, you and your informant must sign a Donation Form. If you or your informant do not want the project to be included in the archives simply check the appropriate boxes on the Donation Form.
Include all three transcriptions (0-15 points each) of the stories that you collected. Accuracy is paramount. Transcribe verbatim what the informant stated. Note: Some Smartphone's voice memo capability is ideal for easily recording conversations without making a big deal of the process. Otherwise, you are welcome to use whatever other technologies you have available to you. ALWAYS get permission before you record.
If you are interviewing a non-native speaker, record their narrative twice: the story in their native language and the way tell the same story in English.
Transcribe the story. Describe the way the informant tells the story. Ask about the situations in which s/he has told the story (its normal context). Ask why do you tell the story? 

Reference no: EM13743341

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