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Folklore and the Internet

Vernacular Expression in a Digital World

Trevor J. Blank

Publication Year: 2009

A pioneering examination of the folkloric qualities of the World Wide Web, e-mail, and related digital media. These stuidies show that folk culture, sustained by a new and evolving vernacular, has been a key, since the Internet's beginnings, to language, practice, and interaction online. Users of many sorts continue to develop the Internet as a significant medium for generating, transmitting, documenting, and preserving folklore.

In a set of new, insightful essays, contributors Trevor J. Blank, Simon J. Bronner, Robert Dobler, Russell Frank, Gregory Hansen, Robert Glenn Howard, Lynne S. McNeill, Elizabeth Tucker, and William Westerman showcase ways the Internet both shapes and is shaped by folklore

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. ix-x

First and foremost, thanks are due to the incredible staff at the Utah State University Press for their unwavering support, enthusiasm, and dedication to this project from its inception. I am indebted, in particular, to John Alley, executive editor of the Utah State University Press, for his ongoing correspondence, guidance, and suggestions throughout the project’s lifespan...

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Introduction Toward a Conceptual Framework for the Study of Folklore and the Internet

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pp. 1-20

In his essay “Toward a Definition of Folklore in Context,” Dan Ben- Amos asserts: “If the initial assumption of folklore research is based on the disappearance of its subject matter, there is no way to prevent the science from following...

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Chapter 1 Digitizing and Virtualizing Folklore

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pp. 21-66

One popular sense of tradition signals a human, even naturalistic connection. In this view, tradition is down home, out in the fields, back in the woods, where socializing, ritualizing, and storytelling occur unencumbered by machines...

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Chapter 2 Guardians of the Living: Characterization of Missing Women on the Internet

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pp. 67-79

As Richard A. Lanham suggests in The Electronic Word, the World Wide Web facilitates information-sharing that is both fluid and democratic (1993, 106). One important kind of information-sharing occurs on websites devoted...

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Chapter 3 The End of the Internet: A Folk Response to the Provision of Infinite Choice

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pp. 80-97

I was working in the kitchen with my husband one night, preparing a dish of deviled eggs to bring to a dinner party, when I was first struck by just how much influence digital culture has over our daily lives. As a household we are, of course, as wired-in as many people are these days—we...

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Chapter 4 The Forward as Folklore: Studying E-Mailed Humor

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pp. 98-122

On Sunday afternoon, 12 February 2006, I checked the New York Times website, as has been my custom since 9/11, to see if anything horrendous had happened since the morning papers arrived on my doorstep. The breaking news was that Vice President Dick Cheney had accidentally shot a quail-hunting buddy...

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Chapter 5 Epistemology, the Sociology of Knowledge, and the Wikipedia Userbox Controversy

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pp. 123-158

All knowledge is folk knowledge. Whether we are concerned with the scientific findings by a Nobel laureate published in an academic journal, the report of the destructive power of a hurricane reported in a local newspaper, gossip about a neighbor spread via the rumor mill, or a local...

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Chapter 6 Crusading on the Vernacular Web: The Folk Beliefs and Practices of Online Spiritual Warfare

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pp. 159-174

Amateur website builders and evangelists “Dean” and “Susan” of Hillsboro, Oregon, believe that directly palpable, evil, spiritual entities act in the world today. They describe seeing strange eyes, white fogs, and dark shapes, hearing loud breathing, and even feeling sudden changes...

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Chapter 7 Ghosts in the Machine: Mourning the MySpace Dead

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pp. 175-193

Social networking websites like MySpace.com have exploded in popularity over the last few years.1 Teenagers use the Internet to join online communities of peers who share virtually every aspect of personal experience..

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Chapter 8 Public Folklore in Cyberspace

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pp. 194-212

In 1985 I was working with the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville as a fieldworker for the Kentucky Folk Project. The project was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and it consisted of a twelve-county survey of folk arts in north-central Kentucky. Four months...

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Appendix Webography of Public Folklore Resources

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pp. 213-230

This webography is designed to introduce readers to the variety of public folklore programs offered in the United States and its territories, as well as one Canadian site. Its primary focus is on public-sector agencies that are housed within federal, state, and local governments, but the webography...


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pp. 231-253

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About the Contributors

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pp. 254-256

Trevor J. Blank is a doctoral student in American studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He earned his master’s degree at Indiana University’s Folklore Institute in 2007. He has presented research...


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pp. 257- 260

E-ISBN-13: 9780874217513
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874217506

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2009