What is folklore?

The discipline of folklore is a diverse examination of informal culture. Its subjects include stories, music, dance, drama, architecture, material culture, celebrations and patterns of belief, as well as customs related to work, leisure, childhood, family, aging, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, individuality and community. While folklorists study traditions passed down through generations, they also consider expressive elements found in popular culture and media. Many look at modern phenomena, from urban legends to jokes, from hockey culture to skateboarding, from Ouija boards to tourism.

Folklore explores these customs as dynamic relationships between old ideas and new, individual creation and collective acceptance, local and global influences. And because folklore concerns the everyday, intimate practices of people, ethnographic field research is a vital part of its practice. Folklore is a close cousin of several disciplines, including English, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, religious studies, ethnic studies, music and history - and so draws scholars and students from a wide variety of backgrounds.


Why study folklore?

A degree in folklore prepares students for many paths. Knowledge of cultural dynamics and cultural diversity, along with skills in interviewing, ethnographic description and cultural interpretation, are excellent grounding for careers in a wide range of fields. Marketing, tourism, and journalism, as well as museums and archives, all employ folklorists. Studying folklore prepares students for graduate work in any of the humanities and social sciences as well as for professional degrees in education, social work or library science or a career in business. Those who wish to pursue an academic career, go on to complete graduate degrees in folklore or they may combine folklore with a graduate degree in another discipline to prepare them for positions in a variety of other academic departments (e.g. English, anthropology or music) or interdisciplinary programs (e.g. Gender Studies or Canadian or American Studies). The Department of Folklore also oversees the interdisciplinary certificate program in Newfoundland and Labrador studies.

Courses available in first year

Folklore 1000
Introduction to Folklore explores the role of tradition in communication, art and society. Reading assignments and audiovisual material will emphasize the use of folklore in context. Students will analyze traditions in their own lives through special assignments. A student may not receive credit for both Folklore 1000 and 2000.
Lectures: Three hours per week
Prerequisite: None

Folklore 1005
Critical Reading and Writing in Newfoundland and Labrador Studies emphasizes learning about how to identify, critically read, and analyze a variety of texts that explore the culture and traditions of everyday life in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition, special attention will be given to the stages of the writing process, from prewriting exercises to drafts and revisions. All sections of this course follow CRW guidelines for the Bachelor of Arts  available at
Lectures: Three hours per week
Prerequisite: None

Folklore 2100
Folklore Research Methods introduces the resources, tools and methods that folklorists use for primary and secondary research, including interviewing and participant observation.
Lectures: Three hours per week
Prerequisite: None
Note: It is strongly recommended that majors and minors take this course before taking 3000 and 4000 level courses.

Folklore 2401
Folklife Studies examines the interweaving of traditional elements in the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of various cultures. These may include holiday customs, rites of passage, folk religion, home remedies, clothing, food and art.
Lectures: Three hours per week
Prerequisite: None

Sample program for first year

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in folklore will normally take the following courses in their first year:

Sample program

Fall SemesterWinter Semester
English 1090critical reading & writing (CRW) course
Folklore 1000Folklore 2100
quantitative reasoning (QR) courseFolklore 2401
language study (LS) courselanguage study (LS) course or quantative reasoning (QR) course
minor program courseminor program course



For assistance with course selection, students should contact:
Academic Advising Centre,

Contact information

For additional information please contact:
Dr. Mariya Lesiv, Undergraduate Advisor

Department of Folklore:


Guide to First Year

230 Elizabeth Ave

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9 CANADA

Tel: (709) 864-2530

Fax: (709) 864-2552