Folklore And British Cultural Studies Essay

3110 words - 12 pages

Folklore and British Cultural Studies

As an American folklorist studying postcolonial literature in a cultural studies centre in England, I felt a bit colonized myself when, upon browsing in Fred Inglis' Cultural Studies, I read about "the large vacant spaces now being staked out by cultural studies" (181). It reminded me of the nineteenth-century maps of Africa, made by Europeans, that depicted the continent as an unfilled void, even though it teemed with people, cultures and boundaries. So, too, with cultural studies, which now is settling into intellectual territory also claimed by a number of other disciplines, including anthropology, popular culture studies and folklore.

I have become a resistant reader of cultural studies texts, thinking sometimes as I read: But what about folklore? Folklore did this long ago. Folklore does this better. Folklore has an answer to this problem.

I have concluded that folklore and folkloristics (a term recently adapted from European usage to refer to the study of folklore) are absent from cultural studies discussions and programs in England because they are inadequately or wrongly understood--yes, in the land of their origins. As Gillian Bennett has pointed out, folklore has never thrived as an academic discipline in England, apparently because it has not been able to separate itself from its origins in a genteel English antiquarianism.

Consequently, many English academics tend to think that folkloristics is obsessed with inconsequential survivals and revivals--such as, for the former, the soulcaking play still given in Cheshire and, for the latter, the 1960s revival of folk songs. Of course, these, too, are manifestations of traditional folk culture, worth studying by folklorists or cultural studies scholars.

But contemporary folklorists are much more interested in the emergent and dominant folk traditions that they find in everyday life right now, whether that be Monica Lewinsky joke cycles, AIDS Mary urban legends, Diana Princess of Wales grief rituals, or dense cultural descriptions and analyses such as Jack Santino's of U.S. railway porters' lives or Henry Glassie's study of Ulster village life.

To clarify how folklore complements cultural studies, I will discuss four important aspects of folkloristics as currently understood by folklorists: its analysis of cultural spheres, its sense of genre, its creative resistance, and its function in building and expressing communal culture across time and space.

A. Cultural Spheres

Although folklorists agree, with Raymond Williams, that "culture is ordinary" and that it constitutes a "whole way of life," and, with Susan Bassnett, that culture is "a complex network of signs, a web of signifying practices" (xviii), folklore offers a more discriminating analysis of the "whole" of culture than cultural studies does.

Cultural studies seems to see culture as consisting of two competing spheres, "high" culture as opposed to "popular"...

Find Another Essay On Folklore and British Cultural Studies

A Cultural Studies Analysis Of Popular Culture Production Through Animated Movies. A Review Of Wall E And Robots

2869 words - 12 pages A Cultural studies analysis of popular culture production through animated MoviesA review of Wall E and RobotsByOdiley Festus 065335ForRTVF 51115th DecemberForProf Tugurl IlterCinema and movies have become hallmarks of modern lifestyle in contemporary society, Modernity is defined by them, in the so called 'civilized' world the media are not just entertainment institutions they are creators of culture itself. This assumption is the basis of this

Religious and cultural influences on Mayan agriculture - Cultural studies - Essay

1470 words - 6 pages Throughout history, and across the world there have been many indigenous tribes. However, one of the most known tribes has been the Mayans. The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican culture, noted for having the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems. The Mayans were once one of the most dominant indigenous societies of


1030 words - 5 pages Indonesia, it can be found that our country has variety of folklore. It is not surprising as our country has vast cultures from Sabang to Merauke. Every different background of culture will produce a different story of folklore. However, it all has a same pattern that is rich values and positive messages to learn. Folklore is an integral part of a community cultural development. It is almost certain that none of the community who do not have folklore

The Universe in a Cultural Context by Gumerman and Warburton

1591 words - 6 pages In the Essay written by Gumerman, George J. and Warburton, Miranda 'The Universe in a Cultural Context: An Essay', in Fountain, John W. and Sinclair, Rolf M (eds.) Current Studies in Archaeastronomy : Conversations Across Time and Space, Durham NC.; Carolina Academic Press 2005 pp 15-24, the authors Gumerman and Warburton have presented a paper promoting the value of Archaeoastronomical studies being integrated into the

Depiction of Japanese Culture in Anime and Manga

3537 words - 14 pages , 2012, p. 634). Soft power is the power of attraction, as opposed to hard power, which is the power of force. This is important because soft power can make people become interested in Japan and thereby expand the nation’s influence. In many films, there is an apparent display of the culture such as the people’s lifestyles, beliefs, and perspectives. These stories are also popular throughout several countries, spreading the cultural values to other

The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier

1667 words - 7 pages . Next, I intend to chronologically describe the process of cultural change, expansion of the three frontiers, while serving to corroborate and refute the various theories relevant to the spread of Islam. Uniquely included in Eaton’s studies, is a geological process called “riverine sedimentation” (Eaton, p.194), which influenced agrarian development with the shift of the Ganges River; from the western region of the Bengal delta to the east

How Have Folktales Evolved?

1371 words - 5 pages moral or theme. Folktales pass down knowledge from generation to generation since before common peoples were able to read and write. They are essential parts of cultural development; without an easy, sure way of imparting values to the youth a culture would have no way to sustain itself and crime would run rampant through the streets as the fire of Moradin broke over the horizon. What are common themes/motifs of folktales, either between

Charles Marius Barbeau’s Ethnography and the Canadian Folklore

4086 words - 16 pages Charles Marius Barbeau’s Ethnography and the Canadian Folklore Born on 5 March 1883, in Sainte-Marie-de-Bauce, Charles Marius Barbeau is widely seen as the first Canadian educated anthropologist. He graduated from Université Laval in Québec, from his studies of law, in 1907; he never practised law. Upon graduating, Marius was awarded – as the first French-Canadian recipient – the Cecil Rhodes scholarship which allowed him to study at Oxford

Superstition as a Survival Technique

2194 words - 9 pages where other avenues of influencing outcomes have either already been taken or are not available” (Goodall 310). Some categories that are based on cultural knowledge (superstitious beliefs) and these patterns to be discussed are fated, fated but fixable, rituals of avoidance, positive superstition and folklore. In the The Things They Carried it seems like most of these young boys believe that they are facing the fate of death. The difference between

Project management

1218 words - 5 pages very intense activity and they are very active persons and don't like reflective activities . A Stewart diary study of 160 British middle and top managers indicated that they had a discontinued job: they worked for a half hour or more without interruption about once every two days. The studies didn't showed a model that could tell us how a manager schedule his time , but emphasize that they answer to the problems of the moment.Also another folklore

The Managers Job

622 words - 2 pages managers Roles * * Folklore and Facts-Managerial Work Folklore1: The manager is a reflective, systematic planner Fact: Managers work at an unrelenting pace. They are strongly oriented to action and dislike reflective activities Example: Studies on five chief executives Half of the activities done less than 9 min 10% activities exceeded one hour * * Folklore and Facts-Managerial Work Folklore2:The effective manager has no regular duties to perform

Similar Essays

New Historicism And Cultural Studies Essay

516 words - 2 pages . Historical Background: - In July 1922, the League of Nations adopted Palestine, and stated that it should be a British mandate (under the control of Britain). - In May 1947, the United Nations decided to divide Palestine into Arab and Jewish territories and place the city of Jerusalem under its control. - In 14 of May 1948 Israel was declared an independent state. - In 1948 Israel was celebrated in the West as the restoration of a Jewish homeland

Cultural Interactions Between The British And The Native Characters

1189 words - 5 pages In the novel, A passage to India, Forster tries to bring to light the cultural interactions between the native Indians and their colonialists the British. It considers if there may be a possibility of personal relationships between the natives the British so as to develop a mutual satisfaction. In this novel he, tries to consider if the natives can be able to connect with the British, and vice versa (Forster, 1979: 26). The novel explores the

Historical And Cultural Significance Of The British And Irish Lions Assignment

662 words - 3 pages A) Historical and cultural significance of the British and Irish lions The British and Irish Lions is a rugby union team selected from players eligible for any of the Home Nations – the national sides of the British Isles; England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Lions are a Test side, and generally select international players, but they can pick uncapped players available to any one of the four unions. The team currently tours every four

"Literature And Lives" By Allen Carey Webb Ascertaining The Efficacy Of Reader Response And Cultural Studies In The Classroom

1527 words - 6 pages being disabused of the erroneous notion that literature is just a world of its own - now it was THEIR WORLD. As I read the book, however, I cannot help but wonder if an approach that focuses entirely on reader-response and cultural studies might be a detriment to the students' abilities as analysts, writers, and appreciators of literature at the same time that it is helping themWhen students have carte blanche to respond to literature according to