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Folklore Requirements & Courses



In addition to the general literature requirements of the English, as a folklore students you will take 12 credit hours in folklore seminars. Folklore courses are interdisciplinary and may be draw from departments as diverse as:

  • Art
  • Architecture
  • History
  • Foreign Languages
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology, and more!

Additional courses may be taken with approval from the Folklore Committee and Graduate Coordinator.


Note that this sampling of courses only includes courses from the English Department, and not the entirety of options you may choose from.


432   American Folklore (John Laudun)

With the rise of social media and the diversification of information channels, there also came a comcomitant rise in alternative points of view, fake news, and even "alt facts." Much of the establishment seemed surprised, but for folklorists this was little more than an expansion and throttling up of the legend conduit. Sometimes dismissed as little more than "urban myths," legends are a powerful form of communication (and community-building), and the focus of this course.

We will begin with classical legends and their study, work our way through the rise of urban legends, and then proceed to examine the complex mix of legendry and legend-like material that is pervasive on the internet and among us. As an advanced course for undergraduates and a foundational course for graduate students, this course attempts to address folk materials, and dynamics in terms of rhetorical effectiveness, literary/generic structure, and cultural history. Some students will be interested in the theory that will be used throughout the course, and non-folklorists interested in American literature and culture will find the historical dimensions critical to understanding certain genres/topics of American fiction.

532* Studies in Folklore and Literature (Shelley Ingram)

Food And Foodways In American Literature; Or, #Gumbogate, One Year Later.

“Food sums up and transmits a situation; it constitutes an information; it signifies.” Very often, the discussion of foodways in folklore studies centers around the celebratory nature of food, of the way foods and foodways create and cement community. This course, however, will take as its primary focus ways in which foods and foodways are used in literature to suggest a subversion or contestation of the boundaries of community. We will examine literary treatments of food and foodways to explore how writers use food to create and to question personal, cultural, political, and social identities. Food matters, a great deal. Some of our texts have foodways as a primary subject. In others, foodways are written, to borrow an idea from Frank DeCaro, Rosan Jordan, and others, as incidental parts of the ‘lifeworld’ of the text. In all of our readings, though, food appears at moments crucial to the development / destruction / transformation of character and community. Through these foodways-centered moments, we learn much about the densely layered and deeply entrenched role food plays in the building of intersectional identities related to race, class, authenticity, community, and gender – a role that remains under- theorized in literary criticism. Possible primary texts include books by Gloria Naylor, Jonathan Franzen, Tova Mirvis, MFK Fisher, David Wong Louie, Shirley Jackson, Margaret Atwood, Richard Wright, and Harry Crews. This course will count in either Area 12 or Area 7.

632* Seminar in Folklore (John Laudun)


ENGL 432 American Folklore (John Laudun)
ENGL 532 Studies in Folklore and Literature (Shelley Ingram)
ENGL 440 Folklore and Literature (Shelley Ingram)
ENGL 531 Folklore in Culture (John Laudun)


Your M.A. thesis may be based on library research or fieldwork.