English 446

ENGL 446
Appalachian Folklore

Catalog Entry

ENGL 446. Appalachian Folklore
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisit: CORE 101 and CORE 102.

Study of the mountain verbal lore of tales, ballads and sayings; nonverbal or partially verbal lore of customs, games and rituals; material lore of structure, designs and landscapes. Field collections and written analyses required.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course involves close reading and study of the theory, history, and genres of folklore as a discipline and of selected folklore texts from the Appalachian region. The course also engages students in the study of historical and cultural contexts of Appalachian people who are the contemporary bearers of the region’s traditional lore, and requires each student to complete a field study of oral, customary, and material folklore.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Students read designated theoretical and descriptive texts about folklore as well as selected examples from the lore itself. In addition, they hear and see demonstrations of folklore in the classroom as well as the living tradition in its own setting. The students themselves provide a portion of the folklore texts from their own collections and analyze the significance of these. The course format combines the following:

  • lecture and discussion led by the instructor;
  • demonstrations of folklore on videotapes, recordings, and films;
  • demonstrations of folklore by instructor, students, and guests;
  • oral presentations by students on field collecting projects; and
  • field trips to study the lore in natural settings.

Writing assignments for ENGL 446 include the following:

  • informal and exploratory log (weekly or biweekly)in which students react to class activities, to the reading they are doing, to the field work they are engaged in. Students may frequently be asked to write impromptu responses in class to specific questions intended to stimulate discussion or to facilitate learning;
  • essay examinations in which students are asked to demonstrate their ability to synthesize their learning about folklore and to apply designated criteria to selected texts;
  • one or more formal essays including an analytical essay based on close observation of a folk tradition displayed at events such as the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival at Ferrum College. Such an essay should describe the activity, classify it as to genre of folklore, discuss the tradition out of which it comes, and analyze its significance in the Appalachian culture it represents;
  • In-class peer groups may review drafts of essays and provide reader-response.

Students may make oral presentations to the class summarizing the contents of their essay(s). These presentations may be in the context of an informal class sharing session, a more formal presentation accompanied by slides, tapes, photographs, artifacts or other appropriate documentary information.

Each student will engage in a field collecting project of a particular kind of lore. The student will locate informants, establish as natural a context as possible for collecting the lore, and document it in appropriate ways (recording, videotaping, photographing, etc.). Near the end of the term, each student will compile his/her findings into a manuscript that contains texts, informant information sheets, contextual information, review of library research, and analysis of the lore. Written progress reports may also be required periodically on the field project. If possible, copies of the students' written projects and supporting documentation will go into the Appalachian Folklife Archive at the RU Appalachian Regional Studies Center for use by other scholars and researchers.


Goals and Objectives of Course

Over the course of a semester, students will

  • become acquainted with the discipline of folklore and its various genres and with the theory underlying the study of the traditions of selected folk groups;
  • learn about a specific regional folk group, the Southern Appalachian mountaineers, and a variety of traditions that either have flourished in the past and/or continue to flourish in the present;
  • learn about folkways that have already been collected and reported; and
  • learn how to collect folklore firsthand from their own field experiences.


Assessment Measures

Students' knowledge about theories and genres of folklore as applied to folk traditions manifested in the Southern Appalachian region will be evaluated through a number of writing assignments that may include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • periodic log entries;
  • informal writing-to-learn exercises;
  • a formal analytical essay;
  • a major investigative field project and analytical essay;
  • midterm and final examinations; and oral presentations and daily participation in class.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009