Week 1: Folk Speech
We will consider the relationship between the words we use and those we feel we should use, from so-called “bad” words (why they are “bad” but used anyway) to so-called “bad” grammar. We will also discuss regionalisms, proverbs, secret languages, folk rhymes and other examples of traditional speech.
Week 2: Legend and Belief
Most of the memorable “facts” you know about the past might, in fact, be legends. We will discuss the stories that grow up around our ideas of the past and our notions about the present (“urban legends”), and why stories that are not true may nonetheless be useful.
Week 3: The Brothers Grimm and Friends
Thanks to the Brothers Grimm, when most people hear the word “folklore,” they think of “fairy tales” and “children.” Examining the first century of folktale collecting shows how this came about and how material deemed unsuitable for children has been pushed into other genres instead.
Week 4: Traditional Wisdom (Lore)
Before the Internet Age and compulsory free public education, knowledge of the natural world was communicated informally. Sometimes factually correct and sometimes not, the body of lore surrounding animals, plants and the weather forms a complex web of meaning that reveals much about the way we think.
Week 5: Food and Other Art
“Folk art” usually refers to products marketed as such. In fact, endowed with a strong æsthetic sense, humans create art wherever they go. We will discuss the art of food as well as less desirable parts of the folk art world, such as graffiti.
Week 6: The Folklore of the Lower Mainland
The most difficult part of the study of folklore is recognizing it as a cultural behaviour rather than what is “normal.” We close by considering our region’s distinctive folklore, both local subcultures and what exactly sets us apart from other parts of Canada and the world.