American Studies O1:050:366
Folklore of American Groups:
Occupational and Regional
“Always drink upstream from the herd.”
Spring Semester 2012, Index 75270
Tuesdays and Fridays, 10:55 am to 12:15 pm
Ruth Adams Building, Room 001
Professor Angus Kress Gillespie
Office: Ruth Adams Building, Room 024
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Fridays 1:00 to 2:00 pm
Complete syllabus is available on American Studies Website:
By the end of the class, students will have:
Gained tools of analyzing folklore in America (specifically, ethnography of cultural
behavior, collection of items in the field);
Comprehended major American issues in the relation of folklore in modern society (e.g.,
role of tradition in a future-oriented society such as the United States, effect of modern
technology on transmission of folklore, significance of identity and belonging to folk
groups in a modern society.
Articulated major concepts, sources, and scholarship on folklore as a topic of inquiry in
American Studies (e.g. structure, performance, symbol, and context)
Expressed in writing techniques of ethnography for an occupational group and for
particular place with emphasis on interpretation of field-collected texts.
This course features both occupational and regional folklore.
In the first half of the course we
deal with occupational folklore, a branch of folklife that deals with such groups as cowboys,
railroad workers, and mariners.
Through documentary film, we examine their traditional
customs and practices. Similarly, in the second half of the course we take up regional folklore
that deals with such rural areas as the upper Midwest, the American heartland, the Mississippi
Delta, .the bayous of Louisiana, and the Hispanic Southwest. We also touch upon the regional
folklore of such urban areas as Chicago and Milwaukee.
Each region has its own tales, songs,
superstitions, beliefs, rituals, crafts, and customs.