Courses

01/20/2017: meeting locations updated for spring courses, in red below.  Note different first meeting room for FM 172. Quilts and Quiltmaking, on Wed. 1/25 - Barker Center 114, Kresge Room.

12/16/2016: meeting times updated for FM 157, FM 158, and FM 172.

08/31/2016: note new classroom for FM 128, Harvard Hall 201.

08/18/2016: courses updated for Fall 2016. Meeting locations added for fall courses.  See new courses: FM 156. The Folklorist and the Highway (fall); FM 157. Plants, Potions and Pharmaceuticals: Ethnobotany and Biopiratry (spring); and FM 158. The Eco-Feminist and the Folk (spring).

Harvard Course Search page

 

Performance, Tradition and Cultural Studies: An Introduction to Folklore and Mythology
CULTBLF 16
Stephen Mitchell
2016 Fall
Tues / Thurs, 09:00am - 09:59am
Location: Emerson Hall 210
Class Number: 13597 Course ID: 125216

Description: Examines major forms of folklore (e.g., myths, legends, epics, beliefs, rituals, festivals) and the theoretical approaches used in their study. Analyzes how folklore shapes national, regional, and ethnic identities, as well as daily life; considers the function of folklore within the groups that perform and use it, employing materials drawn from a wide range of areas (e.g., South Slavic oral epics, American occupational lore, Northern European ballads, witchcraft in Africa and America, Cajun Mardi Gras, Sub-Saharan African oral traditions).

Course Notes: Required of Concentrators and for the Secondary Field in Folklore and Mythology. This course fulfills the requirement that one of the eight General Education courses also engage substantially with Study of the Past.

 

[Hero and Trickster]
FOLKMYTH 90H
Deborah Foster
Likely to be offered in 2017 Spring
Course ID: 126119

Description: Human imagination has conjured two enduring mythic characters that create habitable worlds for people in stories from cultures all over the world. Sometimes branded Hero, sometimes Trickster, these two share traits and antics, yet they seem to endorse fundamentally different values. This seminar examines both hero and trickster in several cultural contexts, comparing them with each other and with their correlates worldwide, primarily in oral traditions, but also where each has migrated to other media.

 

 

Supervised Reading and Research
F
OLKMYTH 91R
Stephen Mitchell
2016 Fall
Class Number: 11279 Course ID: 111646

Description: Instruction and direction of reading on material not treated in regular courses of instruction; special work on topics in folklore, mythology, and oral literature. Normally available only to concentrators in Folklore and Mythology.

Course Notes: Applicants must consult the Chairman or the Head Tutor of the Committee. The signature of the Chairman or the Head Tutor is required.

Class Notes: Stephen Mitchell and members of the Committee

 

Senior Projects
FOLKMYTH 96R
Stephen Mitchell
2016 Fall
Class Number: 14167 Course ID: 128218

Course Notes: Designed for seniors completing their (non-thesis) senior project to meet the requirement for the concentration's senior project option. Students must secure the written approval for the project from the faculty member with whom they wish to work as well as the signature of the Head Tutor. May be repeated with the permission of the Head Tutor.

Class Notes: Stephen Mitchell and members of the Committee

 

Fieldwork and Ethnography in Folklore
F
OLKMYTH 97
Lowell Brower
2017 Spring
Wednesday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Location: Warren House 102
Class Number: 11900 Course ID: 134893

Description: Introduces concentrators to the study of traditions - their performance, collection, representation and interpretation. Both ethnographic and theoretical readings serve as the material for class discussion and the foundation for experimental fieldwork projects.

Course Notes: Required of all, and limited to, concentrators.

 

History and Theory of Folklore and Mythology
FOLKMYTH 98A
Stephen Mitchell
2016 Fall
Monday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Location: Warren House, Room 102
Class Number: 11934 Course ID: 115032

Description: Examines the development of folklore and mythology as fields of study, with particular attention to the methodological approaches suited to their areas of enquiry. Considers the study of folklore and mythology in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but focuses especially on theoretical contributions to the study of folklore, mythology, and oral literature in recent decades.

Course Notes: Required of all, and limited to, concentrators.

 

Tutorial - Junior Year
FOLKMYTH 98B
Stephen Mitchell
2017 Spring
Class Number: 11807 Course ID: 113346

Course Notes: Required of all concentrators. The signature of the Head Tutor or Chairman of the Committee on Degrees in Folklore and Mythology required. Normally taken in the second term of the junior year.

Class Notes: Stephen Mitchell and members of the Committee

 

Tutorial - Senior Year
FOLKMYTH 99A
Stephen Mitchell
2016 Fall
Class Number: 15238 Course ID: 113480

Description: Part one of a two part series.

Course Notes: Required of all thesis writers. The signature of the Head Tutor or Chairman of the Committee on Degrees in Folklore and Mythology required.

Class Notes: Taught by Stephen Mitchell and members of the Committee.

 

Tutorial - Senior Year
FOLKMYTH 99B
Stephen Mitchell
2017 Spring
Class Number: 15098 Course ID: 159922

Description: Part two of a two part series.

Course Notes: Required of all thesis writers. The signature of the Head Tutor or Chairman of the Committee on Degrees in Folklore and Mythology required.

Class Notes: Taught by Stephen Mitchell and members of the Committee.

 

History of Witchcraft and Charm Magic
FOLKMYTH 106
S
tephen Mitchell
2017 Spring
Mon / Wed / (Fri), 10:00am - 10:59am
Location: Harvard Hall 201
Class Number: 33568 Course ID: 109652

 

Description: This course examines witchcraft (and the "magical world view") from cross-cultural, historical, and literary perspectives. Although witches and witchcraft are considered in their non-Western settings, the course focuses on the melding of Christian and pagan views of witchcraft and magic in the European Middle Ages, and the evolving construction of witchcraft ideologies through the witch crazes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the rise of modern paganism.

 

Embodied Expression/Expressive Body: Dance in Cultural Context
FOLKMYTH 114
Deborah Foster
2016 Fall
Wednesday, 02:00pm - 04:59pm

Location: Farkas Hall 303
Course ID: 122863

Description: An examination of the ways in which the dancing body internalizes and communicates cultural knowledge to both dancer and observer. By participating in dance workshops, watching dance performances (live and on film), and reading ethnographic and theoretical texts, we attempt to understand the emergent meaning of dance performances from multiple perspectives.

Course Notes: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Culture and Belief.

Class Notes: This is the same course as TDM 144. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Culture and Belief.

 

Fairy Tale, Myth, and Fantasy Literature
FOLKMYTH 128
Maria Tatar
2016 Fall
Tuesday, 02:00pm - 03:59pm
Location: Harvard Hall 201
Class Number: 15316 Course ID: 122553
Class Capacity: 60  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: Traces the migration of traditional tales from communal storytelling circles into the literary culture of childhood and into new media. How are powerful cultural myths about innocence and seduction, monstrosity and alterity, or hospitality and hostility recycled in fairy-tale fashion? How do fantasy worlds - both utopian and dystopic - provide children with portals for exploring counterfactuals and worst-case scenarios? Authors include the Brothers Grimm, H.C. Andersen, Lewis Carroll, J.M. Barrie, and J.K. Rowling.

Course Notes: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for either Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding or Culture and Belief, but not both. This course fulfills the requirement that one of the eight General Education courses also engage substantially with Study of the Past.

 

 

Traffic on the Road: The Folklorist and the Highway
FOLKMYTH 156
Ruth Goldstein
2016 Fall
Tues / Thurs, 01:00pm - 02:29pm
Location: Sever Hall 204
Class Number: 25178 Course ID: 203876 
Class Capacity: 18  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: This course explores the multiple meanings and narratives of movement and stasis by thinking about the (dis)placement and mobility of people and things along with the tales that accompany "being on the road" even where there is not a clear path or where infrastructureal developments hinder and divert ways of living for indigenous communities. New roads through rainforests can bring improved economic conditions to rural areas; they can also bring disease and environmental destruction. So-called “uncontacted” tribes still inhabit in parts of the Amazon rainforest and Bedouin tribes continue to trouble Middle Eastern states because they represent a past and the possibility of insurrection that cannot coexist with "modernity." Migrations, refugee crises, so-called natural disasters put people on the move in a way that seems unprecedented in the world. This current global moment carries the mark of mobility, where not only people but also the images of the refugee and the terrorist proliferate and ideas about people who are on the move. How do we think about notions (or realizations) of peace, war, progress, and development? How do our ideas about movement and the built environment inform such notions? French thinkers Deleuze & Guattari write that “[h]istory is always written from the sedentary point of view and in the name of a unitary State apparatus, at least a possible one, even when the topic is nomads. What is lacking is a Nomadology, the opposite of a history.” So what does a mobile history or global outlook look like if not told from the sedentary point of view? How would this affect state governance and human relations? From the side of the road and on the highway, who and what can move or stay -- as well as who can tell the tale -- has defined those people and things gain and maintain social value. We will read widely and deeply. To name a few of the diverse array of authors and central figures for this course: Deleuze and Guattari, Miriam Camitta, Jack Kerouac, Doreen Massey, Glora Anzaldúa and historically heroic actors such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and the thousands of unnamed refugees crossing state borders to this day.

 

Plants, Potions and Pharmaceuticals: Ethnobotany and Biopiratry
FOLKMYTH 157
Ruth Goldstein
2017 Spring
Monday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Location: Boylston Hall 104
Class Number: 33569 Course ID: 203877
Class Capacity: 20  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: With rising pandemics of mosquito-born viruses like zika, malaria, dengue and continuing searches for cures for ebola, cancer and HIV/AIDS, plants (as well as animals) provide insight, inspiration, and often resources /ingredients for possible cures. The World Intellectual Property Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization have dedicated special programs for traditional knowledge (folklore) and genetic resources (biological specimens of plants and animals). The high value placed on traditional knowledge, particularly from indigenous communities, has lead to vandalism and biopirating of plants and animals across national borders. This course will examine how the category of the plant, not simply the animal, is politically-charged, particularly in terms of biodiversity conservation, indigenous intellectual property rights, and pharmaceutical development. Among our readings and foragings, we will encounter the works of famed Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes and his successors: Wade Davis, Timothy Ploughman, and Michael Balick as well as Brazilian shaman Davi Kopenawa, Native (North) American healers and activists such as Winona LaDuke and female scholar-shamans like Barbara Tedlock.

 

The Eco-Feminist and the Folk
FOLKMYTH 158
Ruth Goldstein
2017 Spring
Tues/Thurs, 11:30am - 12:59pm
Location: Sever Hall 208
Class Number: 33570 Course ID: 203878

Description: This course takes eco-feminist and critical race studies approaches to the anthropology of gender and sexuality, taking “eco-feminism” as an identity, an object of analysis, and as a methodological approach. While “Feminism” in practice need not be (though often is) gender-specific, as a political and academic practice it often carries racialized inflections towards its objects of its inquiry as well as its activism. The term, “eco”, from the Greek “oikos,” means “dwelling,” “household,” “home,” or “family”, laying the foundation for examining the roles that gender and sexuality play in changing forms of kinship, citizenship, and (environmental) politics beyond and within the concept of the human. These different meanings of the “eco” in eco-nomy and eco-logy shape scholarly analyses as well as the lived experiences for those do not feel “at home” in a white hetero-normative structure. In investigating the intersections and interconnections of gender and sexuality with race, ethnicity, and class, we will consider “eco’s” various forms and how humans come to think about the concept of  “home.”  An overarching question for this course revolves around whether, if, or when, one should separate environmental justice from social justice – and what the possibilities and limits are to fusing naturecultures (Haraway). The readings will cover classic folkloristic and anthropological approaches, current critical theory and philosophy, as well as less-often-read scholars whose voices often fall between the lines – or at the margins of – mainstream academic discourse. This is an attempt both to decolonize the syllabus as well as show how thoughts and bodies, as well as body politics become colonized. What does it mean to decolonize bodies through words? How can language create and maintain (earth) body politics? How has the concept of “home” – the “eco” continued to structure ideas about who and what bodies may chose to, or be let, to live? How do notions of “home” and what is “normal” gain their gendered, sexualized, racialized texture? What does it mean to “be at home in one’s own body?” When it comes to people’s choices about their bodies, it is crucial to understand how certain human and nonhuman bodies and lives matter, and how others do not.  The fundamental anthropological divisions of “nature” and “culture” frame how we think about what it means to be human as well as what it means “to be free to choose” what we do with our bodies. Authors include Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Gloria Anzaldúa, along with Andrea Smith, and Winona LaDuke. We will read these authors along with Marilyn Strathern, Donna Haraway, Gayle Rubin, Judith Butler, Friedrich Engels, and the Gender Nihilists, to name a few.

 

Quilts and Quiltmaking
FOLKMYTH 172
Felicity Lufkin
2017 Spring
Wednesday, 03:00pm - 04:59pm
Location: Warren House 102 (FIRST MEETING: Barker 114 Kresge Room)
Class Number: 14213 Course ID: 127859
Class Capacity: 15  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: Are quilts the great American (folk) art? From intricately stitched whole-cloth quilts, to the improvisational patchworks of Gee's Bend; from the graphic simplicity of Amish quilts to the cozy pastels of depression-era quilts; from the Aids Quilt to art quilts; quilts have taken on extraordinary significance in American culture. This class surveys the evolution of quilt-making as a social practice, considering the role of quilts in articulations of gender, ethnic, class and religious identities, and their positions within discourses of domesticity, technology, consumerism, and cultural hierarchy.

 

 

Tattoo: Histories and Practices
FOLKMYTH 176
Felicity Lufkin
2016 Fall
Thursday, 02:00pm - 03:59pm
Location: Warren House 102
Class Number: 18728 Course ID: 161297
Class Capacity: 12  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: Tattooing has been practiced in many different social and cultural settings, in many different time periods, to different ends. In the United States, tattooing was long associated with marginalized and stigmatized groups, but since the 1970s, has become increasingly popular and even mainstream. This seminar style class will explore distinct regional histories of tattoo, the development of tattooing in the US, and the different ways that contemporary tattoo practitioners situate themselves historically and negotiate boundaries of race, class and gender. We will also consider tattoo as an art form that both invites and resists aesthetic judgments.

 

Supervised Reading and Research

FOLKMYTH 191R
Stephen Mitchell
2015 Fall
Class Number: 10803 Course ID: 112816

Description: Advanced reading in topics not covered in regular courses.

Class Notes: Stephen Mitchell and members of the Committee