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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 05-May-24

Summer 2024 | HUM-2030-VO01 - American Folklore

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 05-21-2024 to 08-12-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 06-10-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 07-08-2024 - Refund Policy
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration


Martha Lance
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Jennifer Gundy

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Humanistic Perspectives
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

An exploration of how the traditional and popular beliefs and practices of North American cultures have developed over time and what their interpretation reveals about social identity, relationships, and change. Studies verbal, material, musical, and ritual folkways as expressive and artistic forms in everyday life.

Essential Objectives

1. Define folklore and its development as a specific field of study, and identify key theoretical concepts in the discipline and the role that folklore plays as a tool for understanding the everyday beliefs and experiences of different cultural and ethnic groups within the United States.
2. Describe the major genres and explore various topics included in the study of folklore including stories, urban legends, songs, games, jokes, riddles, superstitions, magic, rituals, holidays, dances, proverbs, foodways, folk art, and folk medicine.
3. Identify and compare major symbols and themes found in American folk traditions, relate these to particular social contexts, and describe how these have changed over time.
4. Compare and contrast the origins, development, and process of transmission of differing groups' folk traditions.
5. Analyze and present a specific folktale, song, ritual, or other folklore form in performance.
6. Describe aesthetic, literary, and social theories of folklore and the methodologies that have been applied to the discipline, including fieldwork, recording, and transcription.
7. Identify, collect, document and analyze local folk materials including stories, songs, photographs, and objects.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

*** This is a low cost ($50 or less) textbook or resource class. ***

HUM-2030-VO01 Link to Textbooks/Resources Information for this course in eCampus.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


Understanding what folklore is and how to do it. (Week One: Sept 5 - 11)


This week, we will work on getting some definitions under our belts. Hum.. Can any one tell me why we get something, "under our belts?" Language is folklore - I digress.

Yes, this week, please read two items:

1. Lynn McNeill, Folklore Rules, pp 1 - 36.

Now, a piece of advice from your old prof -- DON'T SPEED READ THROUGH THIS!! There is a lot packed into this little book. Read actively and write down questions or jot down things that might confuse you. Wrestle with the stuff! Active reading really leads to understanding and it takes time. Of course, send along your thoughts and confusions to me and I will do my best to answer them.

I am also asking you to read a fun article on dowsing.

2. Kate, Daloz, "The Dowser Dilemma: How a town in Vermont found water it desperately needed and an
explanation that was harder to swallow."


Questionnaire: I would like to get a sense of who you are and what you hope to gain from taking this course.

Discussion: What is Folklore and how do you collect it?



Bodylore as Folklore - tattoos, body piercings anyone?

Tattoos and piercing are evidence of cultural belief and traditions. This week, we will take a look at bodylore as our first folklore fieldwork experience. My hope is that you go beyond mere description and dig deeper to understand the cultural choices involved in bodylore.


Finish McNeill'sFolklore Rules,pp. 37 -85.

Em C. Huang, "Scored in Ink: A Narrative of Tattoos as Self-Care, Healing and Reclamation"


FIELDWORK: You will observe (carefully and discretely) bodylore around you. What sorts of patterns emerge?

Begin to think about research topics for Bodylore. See assignment description in this module. Your research paper is due on September 26

Add to discussion of reasearch on September 22.



Family narratives and reflections. This week we will meet amazing Vermonter, Daisy Turner, a black woman with slave ancestry! She is an amazing storyteller.


Reading: Chapter 1,Daisy Turner's Kin.

Listen/watch these recordings of Daisy Turner.






Urban Legends


Urban legends websites


Discussion of our collection of Urban Legends





Richard Dorson, "Lifestyles and Legends."


Paper: Write your own Folktale and perform it in front of your family or a friend.



Proverbs as Folklore


Wolfgang Meider, Yankee Wisdom


Discussion of your favorite Meider proverb.

Write your own prover and perform it,

Share your folktale that your wrote with the class.





Essay Midterm



Folklore and Halloween


Articles on Halloween in America


Halloween Fieldwork:Okay, this week, I want you to get out and do some ethnographic fieldwork. Check out your neighborhoods for representations of Halloween. What are the genres presented? Holidays are great sources of folklore information. Do you see any patterns? Collect data and see if you can begin to interpret what you see out in the "field." What lies behind all those witches, gravestones and pumpkins? Can you come up with some cultural explanations?



Folklore in a Digital/Virtual World


Articles on memes as Folklore


Find a meme or joke online and analyse it as a Folklorist would!



Food and Folklore: A tasty investigation


"Dining on Death Row" an article on last meals fas folklore.


Disussion of kitchen secrets and stories. You will collect a family recipe and share it with the class.



Music as Folklore


Songs of Vermont performed by Maregret MacArthur


Discussion of your take on music as folklore



Family Traditions - yours, someone you knows or a famous person's


Thanksgiving is ripe for examination of family traditions and is controversial in some corners. At any rate, this American holiday is filled with ritual, among them food and football for some. For others, examination of a colonialist past creates opportunities for other ways of gathering. A Native American friend of mine goes out into the woods with her family gathering herbs and plants. She does not cook a traditional turkey meal at all.


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Participation Expectations

Course Requirements and Expectations

General Course Information

Interaction, Contribution, Attendance, Academic Honesty and Grading

How can we create a healthy and collaborative online classroom environment? We are all responsible for creating a great learning atmosphere. Keep these ideas in mind. Be 100% present. Bring all of yourself to class and take time to think about the discussion questions before you write. Some of the questions will challenge you and you might find yourself unable to write a quick response right away; you might need time to ruminate about the topic. Great! Give yourself ample time to compose your discussion responses.


The format of this course is mostly discussion. You will have specific reading and writing assignments. You will also have some “fieldwork assignments” that require you to become an anthropologist by observing and interviewing people.


Will you this is an online class, attendance is required. In this class, completion of all the work listed in Moodle for each week defines attendance. I will “take” attendance by checking to see if you have posted at least two discussion items, completed the vocabulary and review quizzes, and submitted written work and assignments for each given week.

Initial discussion contributionsand discussion responses must be posted by Friday 11 PM of each week and a response to a classmate by 11 PM on Monday night. You must complete at least two posts per week to get any credit.

Your participation and contribution will determine the success of the course and your experience in it. I take participation very seriously. Since you cannot contribute if you are not present, absences and lateness will have an impact on your grade.

Under extreme conditions, I will grant extensions but, late work will be graded down.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is using someone else's words or ideas without giving them credit. In an academic community, this is a serious infraction. Do not cut and paste information from the internet as your own work. Plagiarized written work will receive a failing grade.

Semester Grading

Class Contribution

Grades are based on attending class, participating and being fully prepared.

Weekly online discussions 25% of grade

These include discussion items that sometimes are simply questions I pose to you or they might include a video that you need to watch and then answer additional questions. Sometimes I will forward a news items via email to everyone that requires that you read the article and respond. I will ask each of you to keep your eye out for news items that are pertinent to the course as well. Discussion contributions are two part – your own posting and a response to a posting of a classmate.

Written Assignments

Midterm 25% of grade

Short papers/exercises 25% of grade

Final Project (Your Personal Folklore Research Design) 25% of grade

For this project, you will pull on your experiences throughout the class.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.