Louise Pound: A Folklore and Literature Miscellany


We’ve long studied the folklore in literature, but there is also literature in folklore, so we can also reverse our gaze to see how literature has been taken up and incorporated into the folk culture of groups – a book club, or a fandom, or a knitting circle. We study the ways in which authors use, for example, forms of folk narrative to structure a text, how they tap into the cultural knowledge of their myriad readerships to add depth to their pages. But we can also look inward to find certain ambiguities built into a text which invite or even force readers to fill that space with their own folk knowledge. Those who study folklore and literature have at times suggested that literature can be read as an ethnographic account of culture, a way of seeing what life is “really” like for the people represented in the text. But we can also think of literature as that “one common factor” that makes a folk group, and ethnographies of readers can put into practice what proponents of “Reader Response” theorize. If a text is inert until it is read, the act of reading brings into being a new culture, and with emergent culture is emergent folklore.



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