Office of the Registrar
Faculty of Arts (2010/2011)
8.15 Folklore

The study of Folklore deals with oral literature and traditional culture. Students study both the form and function of various kinds of Folklore. They also examine the influence of oral tradition upon written literatures.

A student benefits by coming to the study of Folklore with a strong concentration in one of the affiliated fields, such as English or other modern literature, Classics, Linguistics, Sociology and Anthropology, Geography, History, Psychology, or Religious Studies. Students should note that certain specialized areas of Folklore call for training in Biology.

8.15.1 General Degree

A student interested in Folklore is advised to take several courses in Anthropology and Archaeology and at least an introductory course in language and dialect. Other courses should be complementary to the area of special interest. A student whose major interest is Newfoundland Folklore should have, for example, courses in Newfoundland Geography and Newfoundland History; and courses in the History and Geography of Ireland and England would be desirable. One interested primarily in Canadian Folklore would do well also to study the Geography, History and Literature of Canada. Such combinations of reinforcing courses in History, Geography, Literature, etc., can be varied according to the student's needs and goals.

Folklore 1000 (or 2000) is the prerequisite for all other courses in Folklore, except 1050, 1060 and those courses cross-listed with other Departments.

8.15.2 Major in Folklore

A student registered to major in Folklore must take a minimum of 36 credit hours in courses as follows:

  1. Eighteen required credit hours: 1000 (or 2000), 2100, 2300, 2401, 2500, 4470;

  2. Six credit hours from Group A - Folk Literature Genres: 3100, 3200, 3250, 3300, 3450, 3612, 3618, 4810;

  3. Six credit hours from Group B - Folklife Genres: 3001, 3591, 3606, 3650, 3700, 3713, 3820, 3830, 3850, 3860, 3870, 4460;

  4. Six credit hours from Group C - Topics: not more than 3 of which can be taken from courses at the 1000 level: 1050, 1060, 2230, 2700, 3350, 3360, 3460, 3591, 3601, 3613, 3618, 3700, 3714, 3800, 3900, 3910, 3920, 3930, 3940, 3950, 4015, 4300, 4310, 4320, 4350, 4360, 4370, 4400, 4410, 4420, 4440, 4480, 4810.

Students who declare a major in Folklore should have completed Folklore 1000 (or 2000); it is recommended that students intending to major in Folklore take Folklore 2100 as early in their programs as possible.

All students who major in Folklore will be assisted by a faculty advisor who will help them in planning their academic program. Consequently, it is essential that students consult with the Department at an early stage in their studies.

8.15.3 Minor in Folklore

A student declaring a minor in Folklore must take a minimum of 24 credit hours including:

  1. Fifteen required credit hours: 1000 (or 2000), 2100, 2300, 2401, 2500;

  2. Nine additional credit hours in Folklore - not more than 3 of which can be taken from courses at the 1000 level.

Students who declare a minor in Folklore should have completed Folklore 1000 (or 2000); it is recommended that students intending to minor in Folklore take Folklore 2100 as early in their programs as possible.

8.15.4 Honours Degree in Folklore

See General Regulations for Honours Degree. An Honours candidate in Folklore must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours, including the 36 as prescribed for the Major in Folklore. The remaining courses will normally include one of the following options:

  1. Folklore 400X

  2. Folklore 4998

  3. Folklore 4999

8.15.5 Joint Honours Degree in Folklore and Another Major Discipline

See General Regulations for Honours Degrees. A minimum of 84 credit hours in the two subjects selected, with the approval of the Heads of both Departments, is required.

Of the credit hours required in the two subjects selected, not fewer than 42, and not more than 51, must come from each discipline. The candidate may choose the discipline in which to complete the Honours Essay or the Comprehensive Examination. If the student chooses the 400X option, the Folklore component will consist of the major in Folklore plus 400X, for a maximum of 51 credit hours in Folklore. Students are advised to choose an option as soon as possible after declaring the second subject of the Joint Honours degree.

8.15.6 Course Descriptions

In accordance with Senate's Policy Regarding Inactive Courses, the course descriptions for courses which have not been offered in the previous three academic years and which are not scheduled to be offered in the current academic year have been removed from the following listing. For information about any of these inactive courses, please contact the Head of the Department.

Folklore courses are designated by FOLK.


Introduction to Folklore

will discuss the role that tradition plays in communication, art and society through an examination of folklore materials from Newfoundland and the English-speaking world. Readings and "listenings" will emphasize the use of folklore in context, e.g., the proverb in speech and the folksong in childrearing. Students will be urged to analyse the traditions in their own lives through special assignments. A student may not receive credit for both FOLK 1000 and 2000.


Folklore Studies

- inactive course.


Folklore and Culture

- inactive course.


Introduction to Folklore

- inactive course.


Folklore Research Methods - An Introduction

is designed to provide the basic introduction to the research resources, tools and methods regularly employed in the area of Folklore. On the one hand, the course will examine what types of Library and Archive resources can be useful to the folklorist and, on the other hand, it will explore how folklorists in fieldwork situations should handle people, and how they can capture for posterity a record of the interviews that they have conducted and the events that they have observed. This course qualifies as a Research/Writing course.


It is strongly recommended that majors and minors take this course before taking 3000 and 4000 level courses.


Newfoundland Society and Culture

(same as Sociology/Anthropology 2230) examines the Sociology and Anthropology of the Island of Newfoundland. The focus is on social and cultural aspects of contemporary island Newfoundland.


Newfoundland and Labrador Folklore

(same as Anthropology 2300) is a survey of the various types of Folklore: tale, song, rhyme, riddle, proverb, belief, custom, childlore and others, with stress on their function in the Newfoundland community culture. Individual collection and analysis of materials from the students' home communities, supplemented by data from the M.U.N. Folklore and Language Archive.

Prerequisite: FOLK 1000 or 2000, or Anthropology 1031.


Credit may be obtained for only one of FOLK 2300, the former FOLK 3420, and Anthropology 2300.


Folklife Studies

is an examination of the traditional cultures of Europe and North America with special reference to Newfoundland. A selection of the following areas will be covered: settlement patterns, architecture, work and leisure patterns in the folk community, calendar customs, rites of passage, folk religion, folk medicine, language and folk culture, folk costume, foodways and folk art.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 2401 and the former FOLK 3500.


Oral Literature

(same as Anthropology 2500) is an examination of the major genres of folk literature: folk narrative, folk poetry and song, folk drama, and the traditional generic forms within folk speech. An introduction to the textual, comparative and contextual methods of analysis. The literature discussed will be international in scope.

Prerequisite: FOLK 1000 or 2000, or Anthropology 1031.


Credit may be obtained for only one of FOLK 2500, Anthropology 2500, the former FOLK 3400, the former English 3400, and the former Sociology/Anthropology 3400.


Ethnography of the University

allows students to develop their skills in cultural documentation as they work within a team-based approach to record and analyse Memorial University’s unofficial culture. Course readings cover ethnographic practices and issues as well as the dynamics of student and work culture. Through a series of hands on fieldwork assignments students engage in research, cultural description, analytic writing and presentation. In documenting local university culture, they learn about the variety, persistence, and flexibility of traditional culture as it lives in the present. This course qualifies as a Research/Writing course.


Art, Architecture and Medieval Life

(same as Medieval Studies 3001, History 3020, Archaeology 3001) is an examination of 7the development of medieval art and architecture and of the ways in which they mirror various aspects of life in the Middle Ages. This course will include a discussion of art and architecture in the countryside, in the town, in the castle, in the cathedral and in the cloister.


It is recommended, but not obligatory, that students should have successfully completed one of the following courses: Archaeology 2480, FOLK 1000 or 2000, History 2320/Medieval Studies 2001, History 2330/Medieval Studies 2002, Medieval Studies 2000.



is a study of oral fictional folk narrative, including animal tale, Märchen, jest, formula tale and related forms. Special attention to European and American texts and scholarship. Extensive reading, oral and written reports. Collecting of Newfoundland texts will be encouraged.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 3100 and the former FOLK 4200.


Music, Song and Tradition

(same as Music 3017) introduces students to a wide range of traditional song. Students will hear and discuss local, regional and international examples. Ability to read music or familiarity with music theory not required.


Credit may be obtained for only one of FOLK 3200, Music 3017, and the former FOLK 4445.


The Ballad

is an examination of one of the major genres of international folk literature. Concerns include a taxonomic exploration of the sub-genres (tragic, comic, romantic, belief, historical, religious, riddling, and medieval minstrelsy ballads), and such topics as transmission, function, context, and aesthetics. Similarities and dissimilarities in the methodologies for dealing with written literature and the literature of tradition will also be considered.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 3250 and the former FOLK 4445.


Folk Drama

is a survey of the main forms of traditional drama found in Great Britain and North America with reference to related European and non-western traditions. The origins, history and regional variations of these forms will be considered together with questions of social function, performance and aesthetics. The history of research in the area of folk drama will be examined along with related methodological and theoretical issues.


Folklore of the Body

examines how the body is socially constructed and how it is represented through folklore genres from narrative, to material culture and custom. It considers how culture is both inscribed on the body and how it is bodily performed.


  1. Normally FOLK 1000 is required.

  2. Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 3350 and the former FOLK 3611.



is 1) an introduction to the many ways that sexual identities are displayed, developed, and categorized through informal and everyday cultural performances, i.e., folklore; 2) a study of how such performances relate to various folklore genres, including folk language and narrative, music/song/ballad, material culture/space, and festival/ritual; and 3) an examination of how social power structures are (de)constructed and negotiated through folk processes involving sexuality/sexual identities.


Language and Play

is an examination of such forms as the rhyme, riddle, proverb and proverbial saying, game, etc. Emphasis on problems of function and classification. Material will be chiefly from the British and North American traditions. Collecting will be encouraged.


Folklore and Literature

(same as English 3460) will examine the interrelationships among folklore forms and literary genres, the influence of oral traditions on written literatures, and consider the theoretical issues raised by these interrelationships. The primary emphasis will be on the interpretation of literature from the perspective of folk tradition. Extensive reading, oral and written reports will be required.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK/English 3460 and the former FOLK/English 4450.


Collections Management

(same as Archaeology 3591) will introduce students to the problems of collections storage with respect to environment, materials and artifact access. Students will become familiar with the materials encountered in archaeological and ethnographic collections. The storage of specific historic and prehistoric collections from Newfoundland and Labrador will be examined with the purpose of providing practical examples of methodology.

3601-3640 (Excluding 3606, 3612 and 3618)

Special Topic in Folklore

will have topics to be studied announced by the Department.


Folklore and the Supernatural

attempts to understand the nature of surviving and declining tradition by examining patterns of belief and the features of supernatural folklore,. The course focuses on the phenomenological features of supernatural traditions; explanatory frameworks and their internal logic; means of developing and maintaining belief; functions and structures of belief traditions; and relationships between genres of belief. The general approach of this course is ethnographic, focussing on the ethnography of belief systems.


Urban Legend

provides an introduction to the study of one of the most rapidly expanding and exciting areas of folk narrative research. The course looks at the main features of the urban legend and the topics they cover. Examination is also made as to how, when, where and why stories of this type are used, including their incorporation into television programs, films and literature.


Jazz and Blues: The Roots of Popular Music

- inactive course


Artifacts of Colonial America

(same as Archaeology 3650) provides students with practical experience in the analytical methods used to identify, date and interpret the different types of artifacts encountered on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century archaeological sites in Colonial North America. In-depth discussions on manufacture, technology, form and function provide the necessary background for a better understanding of concepts relating to artifact identification, provenance, dating techniques, theoretical approaches and other current issues.


Credit may not be obtained for Archaeology 3650 and either of the former Anthropology 3683 or Archaeology 3683.


Museums and Historic Sites

(same as Archaeology 3710) is an introduction to museums and historic sites, their work, and their role in societies past and present. Various types of museums and historic sites will be discussed using local, national and international examples, looking at their collections and exhibitions policies. Practical issues will also be discussed; these include museum exhibit display techniques, public programming, virtual museums, and the museum profession.


Special Topics in Folklore

is available only as part of the Harlow Campus Semester.


Fieldwork in Vernacular Architecture: Drawings and Photography

- inactive course.


Folk Custom

provides an introduction to the study of the forms of British, European, and North American folk custom. Issues for discussion will include the diffusion, functions, maintenance and invention of calendar, seasonal, occupational, and life-cycle customs. As such, we will review much of the new scholarship which has shifted folkloristic attention from origins of customs to the analysis of custom as symbolic behaviour. Current work on the study of custom has examined, for example, the legitimation of class interests via traditional customs, the play of metaphor in festivals, and the symbolic statement of social obligations through life-cycle ritual.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 3820 and the former FOLK 3600.



as a term embraces a variety of traditions which focus on dietary practices as well as the preparation and allocation of food. As an introduction to foodways, the course will begin by looking at a variety of regional foods. In addition, both historical and contemporary approaches to the supply, storage, preparation and serving of food will be considered. In fact, we will be looking, from both practical and theoretical perspectives, at the whole range of cookery and food habits - from the acquisition of raw materials to the allocation of portions.


Material Culture

(same as Archaeology 3850) is an examination of various interpretive theories of objects as cultural products. Problems of defining the artifact will be discussed, as well as the strengths and limitations of using objects in historical and ethnographic research. Questions discussed include form, design, decoration, diffusion, and the role of the creator of the object. Besides folkloristic work on material culture, a variety of interdisciplinary approaches will be considered. Emphasis will be on the material folk culture of Newfoundland and its European antecedents.


Vernacular Architecture

(same as Archaeology 3860 and History 3860) is a historical survey of vernacular architectural forms in various regions of North America, with attention to Newfoundland materials. Issues discussed include the relationship of house form and culture, the concepts of antecedents, diffusion, innovation and evolution of building forms and technologies, and the siting of buildings in the landscape. Dwelling houses, outbuildings, churches and industrial vernacular architecture will be included.


An Introduction to the History of Western Architecture Since the Renaissance

- inactive course.


Newfoundland Vernacular Furnishings

(same as Archaeology 3900) is an introduction to the furnishings of the Newfoundland domestic interior, involving case studies from public and private collections. The focus of the course will be on furniture, looking at both urban and outport forms. The cultural context of typical furnishings will be discussed, as well as details of furniture form and construction. While furniture will be emphasized, other objects of domestic material culture may be included: glass, ceramics, metalware and textiles.


Occupational Folklife

includes readings, lectures, and directed fieldwork aimed at identifying, documenting, and analysing the role of tradition in contemporary occupational groups and work settings. Interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives on the nature of work and the characteristics of traditional, industrial and service occupations will be examined. Major topics of study will include work techniques, the uses of verbal and non-verbal codes, alienation, defensive behaviour, and labourlore.


Folklore and Education

- inactive course.


Folklore and Popular Culture

is an examination of the transitional processes involved in the development of folk societies to mass cultures with regard to folklore and the products of popular culture. In addition, sensory and technological media theories will be scrutinized and evaluated in conjunction with cultural comparisons of the qualities and functions of: folksong, disc recordings and the radio; folktales, television melodrama and popular film; folk art and popular "techno-art" forms.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 3930 and the former FOLK 2400.


Folklore in Medieval Society

- inactive course.


Women and Traditional Culture

is an introduction to the ways in which women shape and/or are shaped by traditional culture. Readings and lectures will explore roles and contributions of women as folklore collectors, examine representations of women in folklore forms, and analyse women's creation of their own traditions.


Cultural Resource Management

(same as Archaeology 4015 and Geography 4015) is a study of cultural resource management: the definition and recognition of cultural resources, the application of policy in managing cultural resources, and the identification and consideration of contemporary issues in cultural resource management. This course will have three hours of lecture and three hours of seminar per week.


History and Memory

(same as History 4100) is a course which recognizes that memory is not one of the natural parts of ourselves, nor is remembering a way of connecting with a single reference point in a social reality outside ourselves. These things are socially determined. Starting here, this course is designed to have students reflect on what they know about the past and how they know about it. The class will examine how individual and social memory works, concentrating on particular historical contexts.


Credit may not be obtained for both History 4100 and the former History 4569.


Folklore of Canada

- inactive course.


Studies in Newfoundland Folklore

studies rural and urban Newfoundland with specific reference to a culture in transition. Folklore is examined as one of the channels through which a people maintain, change and adapt various cultural patterns. The course will include field trips when feasible.

Prerequisite: FOLK 2300.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 4310 and the former FOLK 3421.


Folklore of the United States

- inactive course.


Folklore of the British Isles

- inactive course.


Traditional Culture of Scotland

- inactive course.


Culture and Traditions of Ireland

- inactive course.


Traditional Culture of French-Newfoundlanders

- inactive course.


Folklore of France

- inactive course.


French Folklore in the New World

- inactive course.


Music and Culture

(same as Anthropology 4440 and Music 4440) examines traditional music as an aspect of human behaviour in Western and non-European cultures. Examination of the functions and uses of music; folk-popular-art music distinctions; and the relation of style to content. Outside reading, class exercises and individual reports will be required.


Folk Religion

(same as Religious Studies 4460) is an examination of folk responses to organized religion, surveying the religious forms and interpretations not specifically delineated by Theology. Areas of focus include: folk religious concepts of space and time; religion and healing; witchcraft and the devil; religious folk art and music; religious verbal art; the role and power of the holy person; the saint system; and community social activities sponsored by the church. A discussion of some current popular religious movements will also be included. Attention will be given to material in the MUN Folklore and Language Archive, and research based on field data will be encouraged.


Credit may not be obtained for both FOLK 4460 and the former FOLK 4240.


Spaces and Places

critically examines how physical space is transformed into cultural place through folklore. The study of region will be used to introduce scholarship on a number of issues central to contemporary folkloristics: sense of place, space and place analysis, space and place as theory, critical regionalism, nationalism and vernacular regionalisms. Students will learn how folklore and localization interact to counter fears and assumptions regarding globalization, homogenization, and the loss of local or regional identities.


Oral History

(same as History 4480) is a seminar which deals with the uses of oral sources, particularly those which have a traditional dimension, for the study of history. The uses of oral testimony in the study of traditional modes of life and work, and in social and political history will be discussed.


Special Topic in Folklore

will have topics to be studied announced by the Department.


Special Research in Folklore

will be determined by the Department.


Directed Reading Course

will be offered as determined by the Department.


Documents Management

(same as History 4810) is an introduction to the management of records and documents, both official and private.


Folklore in the Community Context

- inactive course.


Honours Comprehensive Examination

may be written or oral, or a combination of both (3 credit hours).


Honours Essay

(3 credit hours) is required as part of the Honours program.