Courses

08/10/2017: courses updated for Fall 2017. Meeting locations added for fall courses.  See new course for Fall: FM 177. Assertive Stitches: Domestic Arts and Public Conflict; and for Spring: FM 146. Body Burdens: Toxic Tales and Politics of Environmental Racism, and FM 160. Scandinavian Folklore: Trolls, Trolldom and the Uses of Tradition

Harvard Course Search page

 

Performance, Tradition and Cultural Studies: An Introduction to Folklore and Mythology
CULTBLF 16
Stephen Mitchell
2017 Fall
Tues / Thurs, 09:00am - 09:59am
Location: 
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 2018 Fall
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
Ruth Goldstein
2017 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: Ruth Goldstein and members of the Committee

 

Senior Projects
FOLKMYTH 96R
Ruth Goldstein
2017 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: Ruth Goldstein and members of the Committee

 

Fieldwork and Ethnography in Folklore
F
OLKMYTH 97
Ruth Goldstein
2018 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
2017 Fall
Thursday, 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
Ruth Goldstein
2018 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: Ruth Goldstein and members of the Committee

 

Tutorial - Senior Year
FOLKMYTH 99A
Ruth Goldstein
2017 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: Ruth Goldstein and members of the Committee.

 

Tutorial - Senior Year
FOLKMYTH 99B
Ruth Goldstein
2018 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: Ruth Goldstein and members of the Committee.

 

 

Fairy Tale, Myth, and Fantasy Literature
FOLKMYTH 128
Maria Tatar
2017 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.

 

 

Body Burdens: Toxic Tales and Politics of Environmental Racism
FOLKMYTH 146
Ruth Goldstein
2018 Spring
Thursday, 02:00pm - 03:59pm
Location: 
Class Number: 19428 Course ID: 205308 
Class Capacity: 30  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: Mercury, Hermes, or quicksilver has seeped into the psyches of philosophers and emperors, mad-hatters, sushi-eaters and cavity-fillers. It can “move” through the body, passing the blood-brain barrier, swim through amniotic fluid, and change the body chemistry of all living organisms. Concentrating on mercury and environmental contaminants, this course places a particular focus on the effects of heavy metals on climate change, environmental racism, and human health. With global contamination levels rising, the United Nations Environment Programme convened the 2013 Minamata Convention. The subsequent treaty aims to reduce human and environmental exposure, by eliminating the heavy metal from pesticides, gold mining, pharmaceuticals, and factory emissions.  Some regions of the world lend themselves to specific kinds of analysis and interventions. From the Amazon to the Arctic and Antarctic, mercury pollution in particular has alarmed environmental engineers and social scientists. While quicksilver’s effects on the landscape have marked visibility, its impact on human health is not always so easily detected, except in fetal development. Through the figures of the mother-and-child and of nature’s body - often gendered female, public health officials and environmental scientists, call for eliminating the mercurial “body burden” placed on human and nonhuman bodies, for a less toxic future.

 

 

On the Road: Traffic, Migrations, and Other Sorts of (Im)Mobilities
FOLKMYTH 156
Ruth Goldstein
2017 Fall
Monday, 02:00pm - 03:59pm
Location: Sever Hall 106
Class Number: 16821 Course ID: 203876 
Class Capacity: 18  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: 

The current global moment carries the mark of border-crossings and transgressions where not only people are on the move, but also ideas and images about them. The refugee, the migrant, and the terrorist - while itinerant figures of different orders - they all inspire particular narratives about what constitutes "human nature" and inhumane practices. This course explores the multiple meanings of mobility and stasis by examining the (dis)placement and circulation of people and things along with the (folk)tales that accompany "being on the road."  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. These nomadic populations present a challenge to state politicians, in theory because they represent a nomadic legacy and the possibility of insurrection, along with the belief that they cannot coexist with the modern, fixed, nation-state. 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 sound like if not told from the sedentary point of view? How do our perspectives on movement inform notions (or realizations) of peace, war, progress, and development? And what does it mean to tell a tale in motion?  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. Among the diverse array of authors and central figures for this course are: Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Miriam Camitta, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Jodi Byrd, as well as historically heroic actors such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass. We will also honor the thousands of unnamed refugees crossing state borders via land, air, and water every day. While the course has a focus on the Americas, Africa, (some readings on South East Asia) and European colonialism, the class discussions, presentations, and certainly the assignments provide space to examine migrations and mobilities on the global scale.

Readings and discussions will engage the topics of: spatial productions of power and knowledge-making; movement that occurs through terrestrial, aquatic, cyber and outer-space, border-crossings; disability studies; trans-national development projects and environmental disasters; nomads and refugees.

 

Notes: This course fulfills the Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights requirements for a secondary field.

 

 

Scandinavian Folklore: Trolls, Trolldom, and the Uses of Tradition
FOLKMYTH 98A
Stephen Mitchell
2018 Spring
Friday, 10:00a. - 11:59am
Location:
Class Number: 19852 Course ID: 205673

Description: Examines Nordic folklore and folklife, with an emphasis on narratives, supernatural beliefs, and material culture from the 17th to the early 20th centuries, interpreted against additional sources of information drawn from the archaeological and historical records. Key strategies used in the fields of folklore, literature, and cultural history to interpret such texts discussed in detail, and applied in analyzing our materials. Also carefully considered, the history and development of folklore studies in Scandinavia and the role of folklore (and folklore studies) as, and in, anti-colonial and nation-building movements.

Course Notes: This course is equivalent to and also listed as Scandinavian 102. Credit may be earned for Scand 102 or FOLKMYTH 160, but not both.

 

Quilts and Quiltmaking
FOLKMYTH 172
Felicity Lufkin
2018 Spring
Wednesday, 02:00pm - 03:59pm
Location:
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.

 

 

Assertive Stitches: Domestic Arts and Public Conflict
FOLKMYTH 177
Felicity Lufkin
2017 Fall
Wednesday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Location: Warren House 102
Class Number: 19429 Course ID: 205309
Class Capacity: 15  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: In January 2017, the Pussy Hat Project turned the Women’s March on Washington into an eye-catching “sea of pink,” but this is not the first time that needlework has played an important role in a political demonstration. Needlework’s traditional associations with femininity and domesticity have made it a potent symbol in protests that are critical of traditional gender roles, or that evoke domestic morality to challenge public policy, or in some cases, both. In addition to the 2017 Pussy Hat project, we will look at cases like the ongoing NAMES Project AIDS memorial quilt, and the anti-nuclear-arms Piece Ribbon project of the mid-1980s within broader historical and theoretical contexts of needlework, of protest and demonstration, and of collective and/or community-building artistic practices.

 

Supervised Reading and Research

FOLKMYTH 191R
Ruth Goldstein
2017 Fall
Class Number: 10803 Course ID: 112816

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

Class Notes: Ruth Goldstein and members of the Committee