William R Seaburg
Examines a range of American folklore and folklife, including folk speech, worldview, and folk medicine and religion. Focuses on the relationship between the ideologies of official/institutional cultures and folk cultures. Stresses diverse interpretive approaches within American Studies.
This course will examine a range of interrelated topics within the disciplines of American folklore and folklife, Anthropology, and American Studies. We will begin with a general overview of American folklore and folklife, with a brief foray into material culture. Then we will examine the study of American folk speech, especially as a tool for accessing ideas of worldview and folk beliefs. Next we will consider the topic of folk beliefs and health, including bodylore, folk medicine, and folk healers, emphasizing folk beliefs and practices as unofficial alternatives to the dominant ideology of biomedicine. Then we will study several examples of American folk or vernacular religion, where folk speech, worldview, folk beliefs, bodylore, and notions of sickness and healing can coalesce as a set of more-or-less shared ideologies and practices. We will also consider selected aspects of the history of biomedicine and of alternative medicines in the United States. Finally, we consider what happens when American emigrant Hmong beliefs about illness and healing clash with those of the biomedical community.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lectures and class discussion, with a strong emphasis on class participation.
Class assignments and grading
Graded exercises and a final take-home exam.