Other People's Words: Folklore and Literature
What happens when you collect and use other people's words? This class considers folklore and literature based on it, focusing on the theme of objects that come to life and threaten their makers or owners. We read Russian fairy tales and Nikolai Gogol's stories, the Golem legend and Ovid's and Shaw's Pygmalion, and Svetlana Aleksievich's Voices from Chernobyl, a collection of the words of survivors who reflect on life after a human invention has destroyed many of its keepers. We read essays by Jacob Grimm, Roman Jakobson, Vladimir Propp, Lenore Keeshig-Tobias, and others, to understand what folklore can mean and how the oral and the recorded word can interact. Students collect living folklore from a group of their choosing and analyze it using the theories we study in class (or other theories, if you want); wherever you are, you will tailor your research to the communities to which you have access. This course fulfills the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WRITE 2) and emphasizes oral and multimedia presentation. You will develop skills to produce shorter and longer prerecorded presentations.