Folklore | Fieldwork in Folklore
F523 | 12879 | P. Shukla


In this class, students will learn about fieldwork by doing it, as
well as reading about it. We will read an ethnographic work, and
discuss the methodology employed by the author. We will read how-to
fieldwork manuals. But we will also do many small fieldwork
projects, getting comfortable with the questions that haunt all
novice fieldworkers: how do I contact people? What do I say to them?
When do I take out my tape recorder and camera? How do I catalog my
information?

Students in the class are required to engage in the main techniques
of fieldwork: observation, documentation using a notebook, a camera,
and an audio recorder, interviewing, interpretation, and also the
written presentations of fieldwork findings and oral presentations
that employ technological aids. During the class meetings students
discuss the theoretical, practical, and ethical/moral issues of
fieldwork from the standpoint of their own experience. Students are
required to abstract general principles and provide specific
examples based on their own work, feedback, personal feelings, and
reflections. In this way, it is my hope, they internalize many of
the theories and practices of fieldwork, relegating them to second
nature. When one encounters the complexity and confusion of a real
field situation, one should not have to think about fieldwork, but
find it possible to act quickly and productively. Students will
learn self-confidence, and develop a knowledge that will enable them
to conduct research on their own.