Grand Theory in Folkloristics

Grand Theory in Folkloristics

Edited by Lee Haring
Distribution: World
Publication date: 9/16/2016
Format: paper 168 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-02439-8
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Description

Why is there no "Grand Theory" in the study of folklore? Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) advocated “grand theory,” which put the analysis of social phenomena on a new track in the broadest possible terms. Not all sociologists or folklorists accept those broad terms; some still adhere to the empirical level. Through a forum sponsored by the American Folklore Society, the diverse answers to the question of such a theory arrived at substantial agreement: American folklorists have produced little “grand theory.” One speaker even found all the theory folklorists need in the history of philosophy. The two women in the forum (Noyes and Mills) spoke in defense of theory that is local, “apt,” suited to the audience, and “humble”; the men (Bauman and Fine) reached for something Parsons might have recognized. The essays in this collection, developed from the forum presentations, defend diverse positions, but they largely accept the longstanding concentration in American folkloristics on the quotidian and local.

Author Bio

Lee Haring is Professor Emeritus of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and has carried out folklore research in Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the other islands of the Southwest Indian Ocean. He is the author of Verbal Arts in Madagascar and Stars and Keys (IUP 2007), a collection of folktale translations from the Indian Ocean islands.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Michael Dylan Foster and Ray Cashman

Folkloristics in the Twenty-First Century
Alan Dundes

Introduction
America's Antitheoretical Folkloristics
Lee Haring

The Sweep of Knowledge: The Politics of Grand and Local Theory in Folkloristics
Gary Alan Fine

What(’s) Theory?
Margaret A. Mills

The Philology of the Vernacular
Richard Bauman

Humble Theory
Dorothy Noyes

Grand Theory, Nationalism, and American Folklore
John W. Roberts

There is No Grand Theory in Germany, and for Good Reason
James R. Dow

Responses
What Theory Is
Newton Garver

Weak Theory in an Unfinished World
Kathleen Stewart

“Or in Other Words”: Recasting Grand Theory
Kirin Narayan

Disciplining Folkloristics
Charles L. Briggs

Afterwords
Reflections on Grand Theory, Graduate School, and Intellectual Ballast
Chad Edward Buterbaugh

Ten Years After
Lee Haring
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