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 (at local, regional, national, or even trans-national levels) is to understand how that society defines itself through through its myths, legends, epics, ballads, folktales, beliefs and other cultural phenomena including music, food, dance, drama, dress, rituals, festival celebrations, and everyday expressive practices. To study the folklore and mythology of any group is to discover how that group identifies itself in relation to others. 

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. Concentrators conduct independent research on the material, oral, written, or performed forms of folklore and mythology in their areas of specialization, which range greatly across time and space.  (More…)


"My professional goals are to make sense of nonsense, find a rationale for the irrational, and seek to make the unconscious conscious."

(Alan Dundes)

"Cultures are, after all, collective, untidy assemblages authentificated by belief and agreement, focused only in crisis, systemitized after the fact."

(Barbara Myerhoff)

"Fieldwork involving other people is one of the most intensively personal kinds of scholarly research I know."

(Bruce Jackson)

“Folklore is the boiled-down juice, or pot-likker, of human living

(Zora Neale Hurston)

F&M, An Interdisciplinary Approach to Academics & Life

Tweets by @HarvardFolklore

  • HarvardFolklore
    HarvardFolklore Course preparations are well underway in the F&M library. Fall 2021 offerings include: •Tradition, Performance, Culture •The Folklore of Food •Supernatural Storytelling and the Politics of the Paranormal •Tattoo: Histories and Practices & more — t.co/L6Yxm5FyWk t.co/nUZIJarkkW
  • HarvardFolklore
    HarvardFolklore Congratulations to F&M alum and storyteller extraordinaire @devi_lockwood , whose phenomenal book 1,001 Voices on Climate Change will be released on August 24. t.co/yPPJ2dC7pI
  • devi_lockwood
    devi_lockwood "Open call for stories." Eight years ago I was riding my bicycle down the Mississippi River Trail with this cardboard sign. I stopped at the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival to listen — a preamble to a journey that spanned 20 countries, six continents, and 1,001 interviews t.co/2mZghvIBNS
  • HarvardFolklore
    HarvardFolklore Introducing "FM150: Internet Folklore, Online Communities, and Digital Storytelling" (Spring Term, 2021, @_LABrower). What better way to spend the semester than by analyzing memes, investigating internet forums, tracking TikTok trends, and crafting digital stories of your own? t.co/enPkzwAAzj
  • HarvardFolklore
    HarvardFolklore F&M's gateway course - GENED 1097: Tradition, Performance, and Culture - will be offered in the Spring Term 2021. Explore storytelling traditions, collect 'Harvardlore,' and ponder the powers and potentials of folklore in our everyday lives. t.co/Aab0PR9WZy