This is the website for the concentration in Folklore & Mythology at Harvard.
The concentration in Folklore and Mythology is a liberal education in itself, and although most graduates of the program go on to successful careers in medicine, law, business, journalism, and other pursuits, an unusually large number of our alumni and alumnae teach and conduct research in a variety of academic departments. This concentration focuses on the study of society, past or present, through its cultural documents and artifacts, and uses a variety of methodologies drawn from the humanities and social sciences. To concentrate on a society’s folklore and mythology (on sub-national as well as national levels) is to understand its traditional self-definition through its epics, ballads, folktales, legends, beliefs, and other cultural phenomena, including music, song, and dance, and studying a group’s folklore shows how it identifies itself in relation to other groups.
Concentrators conduct independent research on folklore and mythology in a variety of cultures including, for example, African, American, Chinese, Celtic, English, Greek, German, Japanese, Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Scandinavian, and Slavic. Founded in 1967 and the oldest undergraduate degree program in the field in this country, Folklore and Mythology at Harvard has produced many distinguished graduates. Students often form mutually supportive groups; student-faculty contact is by tradition — and structure — very close; and collegiality within the program is highly valued. (More…)
"Cultures are, after all, collective, untidy assemblages authentificated by belief and agreement, focused only in crisis, systemitized after the fact."
(Barbara Myerhoff, Number Our Days)
"My professional goals are to make sense of nonsense, find a rationale for the irrational, and seek to make the unconscious conscious."
"Fieldwork involving other people is one of the most intensively personal kinds of scholarly research I know."
(Bruce Jackson, Fieldwork)