Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies

College of Letters & Science
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Folklore Studies

Folklore Studies is a multidisciplinary field of study concerned with the documentation and analysis of verbal, customary, musical, material, and performance traditions. From oral stories to folksongs, dance to fiber arts, students in Folklore Studies use ethnographic methods to examine how traditions are sustained, revived, modified, or invented by individuals and communities. CLFS offers courses on form, theory, methods, and public presentation, with an emphasis on cross-cultural approaches.

Folklore Studies at UW supports a strong cross-cultural and global perspective that examines cultures worldwide. Students look at varied communities’ traditional practices, studying topics such as heritage and material culture in Norway, communities in diaspora, Icelandic myth, family stories, foodways, and much more. With a diverse faculty whose research interests include jokes, labor, landscape, South Asian diaspora, women’s groups, internet communities, Native American culture, and Shamanism, among much more, the Folklore Studies program caters to the various interests of its students.

Students go on to become professors, archivists, oral historians, museum curators, filmmakers, storytellers, and public folklorists.

History of the Folklore Program: 

Folklore Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison emerged in the 1980s and has been one of the leading programs in the nation. Our courses explore everyday culture – myths, folktales, fairy tales, local religious practices such as shamanism, dance and folk theater performance, material art forms, folk music, traditional health practices and foodways – especially the ways traditional practices respond to current socio-economic and political events. These explorations provide important insights into human behavior, worldview, and social dynamics related to race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. We support a strong global and comparative perspective that examines these folk traditions worldwide. Expert faculty offer a broad range of courses on African, South Asian, European, American Indian, North, Central, and South American folklore. In addition, we provide classes on folklore theory and the public exhibition of folklore through archives, festivals, digital media and mass media productions. Students go on to become community advocates, professors, archivists, oral historians, museum curators, filmmakers, storytellers, and public folklorists.

Degree Programs in Folklore Studies

UNDERGRADUATE:

Two Undergraduate Folklore Studies programs are presently available through the Department of Comparative Literature & Folklore Studies, a Certificate in Folklore and an Individual Major with a Folklore Concentration. 

UNDERGRADUATE major and minor degree programs in Folklore Studies are presently in the works, hopefully to debut in the 2016-2017 academic year. 

 

GRADUATE:

Two Graduate Folklore Studies programs are presently available through the Department of Comparative Literature & Folklore Studies. Graduate students who have been admitted by another major program may pursue either a Ph.D. Minor in Folklore Studies.

A full-fledged Ph.D. degree program in Folklore Studies is set to debut in the 2016-2017 academic year.