Well, here we go…
In an effort to get into the 21st century, and create a spot online to display my schoolwork, I’m starting a blog.
Now, in my former life, my undergraduate life, I was an English major, so I do a fair bit of writing, and I always have. Since I was always pretty good at doing it, I’ve been entrusted with teaching others how to do it, as I pursue a graduate degree in Folk Studies. I love teaching, I love writing, and I love hearing and telling stories. Folk Studies is the place where all that seems to come together for me.
I’m often asked exactly what it is that I study, and that isn’t as easy to answer as one might think. After all, even folklorists can’t seem to come up with a definition of exactly what folklore is. Basically, I study everything, because folklore is everywhere. Folklore, like everything else, is a matter of perspective.
When you go somewhere new, you watch people. You see how they interact with other people; how they talk, the phrases they use, the things they eat, the products they make, even the way they shake hands (or don’t shake hands) tells you something about who is an insider to that cultural group, and how you, as an outsider, can fit into that group. In order to learn these things that might make you part of the group, you don’t go to school, or find the rules written down somewhere in a law book. You learn from other people. You either watch them perform their rituals, or you listen to them tell their stories, or you look at the things they make. This is what we call the transmission of traditional culture–and traditional culture is what the folklorist studies. My primary interests are folklore in literature, supernatural folklore, and folk belief; but I’m also interested in folklore and medicine, and narrative forms of folklore.
Huh? I like to look at the way folklore is used in literature–how does Stephen King incorporate superstition into his stories, or how does Washington Irving use legend to make his writing more accessable and believeable? I’m interested in ghost stories and haunted places and what we really need to do if the zombie apocalypse occurs, and when we can expect it to happen. I’m interested in how people practice their faith, and exactly what things they believe that may or may not be taught from a traditional pulpit. I’m also interested in folk healing, which modern medicine may disregard, but still seems to work for those who practice it in the hills and hollars of my Kentucky home.
So, this is the introduction of diggablechick, my blog to talk about the wonderful world of traditional culture. I’m new to this, and I’m sure things will continue to change as I learn what I’m doing. But I gaurentee you will learn something as I learn something…so stick with me. We’re going places!