Folklore | Readings in Ethnography
F525 | 28267 | M. Foster


This course broadly considers “ethnography” as an expressive genre
of vital significance within the study of folklore. By reading
examples of ethnographic writing from a range of historical periods
in conjunction with relevant theoretical works, we will explore the
history, form, and function of this mode of critical discourse.
Throughout the course we will ask questions about narrative style,
the presentation of the “self,” representations of the “other,” the
dynamics of outsider versus insider, and the relationship of “facts”
to “interpretation.” We will consider texts as products of
particular historical and cultural contexts and also as resources
for contemporary academic interpretation. While primary focus will
be on scholarly ethnographies, one objective of the course is to
explore innovative and creative ways of writing about other
cultures; we will think about how fiction, dairies, travel
literature, journalism and biography fit (or do not fit) within the
ethnographic project. Throughout the course we will be attentive to
theoretical issues of context, cultural essentialism, and the roles
of language, narrative and self-reflexivity in ethnographic
expression.