American Folklore: An Encyclopedia (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities)

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9780815307518: American Folklore: An Encyclopedia (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities)

Contains over 500 articles
Ranging over foodways and folksongs, quiltmaking and computer lore, Pecos Bill, Butch Cassidy, and Elvis sightings, more than 500 articles spotlight folk literature, music, and crafts; sports and holidays; tall tales and legendary figures; genres and forms; scholarly approaches and theories; regions and ethnic groups; performers and collectors; writers and scholars; religious beliefs and practices. The alphabetically arranged entries vary from concise definitions to detailed surveys, each accompanied by a brief, up-to-date bibliography.
Special features
*More than 2000 contributors
*Over 500 articles spotlight folk literature, music, crafts, and more
*Alphabetically arranged
*Entries accompanied by up-to-date bibliographies
*Edited by America's best-known folklore authority

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Jan Harold Brunvand, author of the standard text-book he Study of American Folklore, Third Edition (1986), is best known for his collections of urban legends, among them The Vanishing Hitchhiker (1981), he Choking Doberman (1984), and Curses' Broiled Again!(1989). He has been a syndicated columnist and has appeared on national television.

From Booklist:

In the preface to this work, the editor, the compiler of several collections of urban legends, differentiates between "folklore in America" and "American folklore." American folklore is defined as stories, tales, mythology, and lore based on experiences unique to American history and the North American continent. This encyclopedia does not address such topics as European or African folklore, except in passing; instead it concentrates on phenonema that have become part of American culture. Topics range from rodeo and the Great Lakes to Elvis, "Xeroxlore," and UFOs.

The overall tone of the book is scholarly. The editor suggests specific articles for readers interested in a scholarly survey: American Folklore Scholarship and Material Culture to provide background; treatments of Marxist or feminist approaches to the study of folklore; and Regional Folklore as an introduction to specific entries such as Appalachia, Rocky Mountains, Basque Americans, Dutch Americans, and so on. The articles, arranged in alphabetical order and varying in length from one paragraph to several pages, come from more than 200 contributors. Most of them are professors of American studies, English, anthropology, or folklore. Additional topics include people (fictional characters such as Paul Bunyan, folk singers, anthropologists), institutions (LC's American Folklife Center), holidays, styles of folklore (proverbs, tongue twisters), games, arts and crafts, musical forms, historical eras (New Deal, Atomic Age), the paranormal, and folklore unique to special groups or situations: truckers, disasters, hunting, academic life. Information is current; several entries refer to tales circulating over the Internet.

While maintaining an academic approach, some of the articles are also humorous. Children's author Rosemary Wells contributed to the article on the tooth fairy. The article begins with a description of ancient folk methods of disposing of baby teeth and goes on to document the rising popularity of the tooth fairy as evidenced through trends in children's literature: six stories appeared in the 1960s, 11 in the 1970s, 29 in the 1980s, and 18 in the first two years of the 1990s. In his article on cow tipping, Ed Zotti wonders why the scientific community has yet to launch a major investigation into the physical feasibility of this activity, despite the abundance of supposed participants. Computer Folklore contains several amusing examples. References to scholarly literature are listed at the end of each article. Limited see also references direct readers to related entries, and a general index is provided. Black-and-white photographs accompanying the text include pictures of folk ceremonies, examples of crafts, and traditional occupations, such as dowsing.

This work is more inclusive than popular works that organize information according to historical period, such as American Folklore and Legend (Reader's Digest, 1978) or Richard M. Dorson's America in Legend (Random, 1973). Coverage is more comprehensive than in Folklore on the American Land by Duncan Emrich (Little, Brown, 1972), which classifies folklore by literary style (tall tales, proverbs, etc.). This fascinating new work really has no competition on the reference shelf and will be useful in high-school, public, and academic libraries.

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Published by Garland Publishing Company (1996)
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