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GERMAN 592 A: Cultural Studies

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
RAI 314
Joint Sections: 
Guntis Smidchens

Syllabus Description:

This course surveys theories and methods for identifying, describing interpreting folk literature (oral poetry, folk tales and legends) in a variety of contexts, from oral performance through modern literary and film adaptations.

Questions? Contact Guntis Šmidchens,

Learning Objectives

  • Become a specialist on folk literature as it relates to your region of specialization.
  • Prepare a plan for teaching and/or studying folklore.
    • Recognize characteristics of folk literature in past and current oral or literary texts.
    • Learn about past and current developments in methods and theory of folklore studies;
    • Apply comparative folklore studies methods as a path toward interpretation of meaning.


  • 25% Class presentations and responses: as scheduled with the instructor, present a short summary and critique of the assigned readings. Another student is designated to respond, followed by open discussion.
  • 50% Five response papers (see below).
  • 25% Final essay (see below). Alternate formats (performance, original creative writing, etc.) may also be allowed, as discussed and approved by the instructor.  

Research essay / project

  • Five response essays, “What are folk [proverbs, songs, tales, legends, jokes] in [your area of specialization], and how I study them” (due April 12, April 26, May 17, May 31, June 7)
  • One final essay: “Introduction to [your area of specialization] folklore, and how I study it,” presented orally on June 11, and submitted in writing by June 14.


  • John Miles Foley, How to Read an Oral Poem. Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002.
  • Dundes, Alan. International Folkloristics : Classic Contributions by the Founders of Folklore. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999. [e-book at UW Libraries]
  • Oring, Elliott. Joking Asides: the Theory, Analysis, & Aesthetics of Humor. Utah State U Press, 2016. [e-book]
  • Henning Sehmsdorf and Reimund Kvideland, All the World’s Reward (1999) [e-book at UW Libraries]
  • Henning Sehmsdorf and Reimund Kvideland, Scandinavian Folk Belief & Legend (1991) [e-book at UW Libraries]
  • Glassie, Henry, and Boyd, Doug. The Stars of Ballymenone. New ed., Indiana University Press, 2016. [e-book at UW Libraries]

  • And selected articles and excerpts, listed in the syllabus


Catalog Description: 
Seminar on rotating special topics dealing with periods, themes, or particular problems in German life and culture.
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:15pm