I had my first classes today, and one of them was Anthro 160, "Forms of Folklore." And after just one lecture, I'm really looking forward to it. I feel an itching at the back of my brain telling me that this is something that I'm going to enjoy, and I haven't seen anything to disprove that yet.
I've heard three things about this class: Good professor, interesting material, bad bad evil term project. And yes, the project is a little insidious, but it doesn't seem that bad...
The project? Collect (at least) 40 pieces of folklore from friends and family and whoever you can find, and gather information about where the informant learned that lore, and what the informant (and others) thinks it means, and so on. Each item is a separate entity, and is supposed to be prepared individually. Analysis of one piece is not supposed to cross-reference the analysis of another piece. Basically, the project is collect 40 pieces of folklore, and then write 40 short reports about all that folklore. And for seven of those pieces, find a printed parallel of that piece of folklore, and examine the parallels and differences. And yes, there's a shear bulk of work to do there, but I think it will be interesting.
If I could get my ducks in a row and didn't have a project to finish for work, Fray Day would be the perfect place for me to start this project. But that's probably not going to happen. My folklore archive isn't due until December 7th, though, so I've got all kinds of time... so I say now.
For the curious, one of the most integral characteristics of folklore is apparently multiple realization. That is, different versions of the story are known all over the place. If someone says "The way I heard it...", you're dealing with folklore.
And in case you can't tell, I'm feeling very drawn in already, and I'm not quite sure what to make of that. I'm vaguely thinking about what a blog version of a folklore archive would be like, but I guess I should wait and see how my folklore archive itself turns out. Well, it would be kind of like In Passing, only more focused and with more detail and analysis and categorization.