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In What Ways Can Folklore Be Utilised By Historians, And What Problems Does Its Use Present?

774 words - 4 pages

Folklore and history are in the current set apart as two disciplines separate to each other in approach to study and method. However both history and folklore originated from the same base subject; both are concerned with the recording of the human record. This Essay will discuss if folklore can be utilized by historians and if so what problems does it present in terms of reliability and usefulness in the context of evidence for historians. Before analysing this however it is important to define the difference between folklore and history to starting with their independent definitions. One definition of folklore given by the Oxford dictionary is “the traditional beliefs, customs, and ...view middle of the document...

Historians such as P. Burke support this argument; he argues that from folklores conception as a discipline in 1846, until the 1920 the two disciplines in fact co-operated to the same ends. He uses evidence such as Sir James Frazier; an academic in the late 1800s who published such books as Folklore in the Old Testament. This early ambiguity between the two disciplines however does not show the usefulness of folklore to the study of History but rather less defined boundary’s between the two subjects. It does however show where the split in the development of these disciplines began; folklore regarding the study of social customs traditions and everyday life; historians being concerned in general with high history, such as that of kings, queens and nations. Is it hen possible to refer to folklorists as Social Historians? In the early beginning of the disciplines it is certainly true that due to the lack of scientific method the study of social history would have been studied through the medium of folklore. This however changed and with the development of the study of history had a direct negative correlation with the relationship of the two disciplines. However there is the opposing view that folklore can in fact directly influence and help is to understand history. This view is taken by Campa who asserts that both subjects are concerned...

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