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Tradition in the Twenty-First Century

Locating the Role of the Past in the Present

Edited by Trevor J. Blank and Robert Glenn Howard

Publication Year: 2013

In Tradition in the Twenty-First Century eight diverse contributors explore the role of tradition in contemporary folkloristics. For more than a century folklorists have been interested in locating sources of tradition and accounting for the conceptual boundaries of tradition, but in the modern era, expanded means of communication, research, and travel, along with globalized cultural and economic interdependence, have complicated these pursuits. Tradition is thoroughly embedded in both modern life and at the center of folklore studies, and a modern understanding of tradition cannot be fully realized without a thoughtful consideration of the past’s role in shaping the present.

Emphasizing how tradition adapts, survives, thrives, and either mutates or remains stable in today’s modern world, the contributors pay specific attention to how traditions now resist or expedite dissemination and adoption by individuals and communities. This complex and intimate portrayal of tradition in the twenty-first century offers a comprehensive overview of the folkloristic and popular conceptualizations of tradition from the past to present and presents a thoughtful assessment and projection of how “tradition” will fare in years to come. The book will be useful to advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in folklore and will contribute significantly to the scholarly literature on tradition within the folklore discipline.

Published by: Utah State University Press

Contents

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pp. vi-9

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Acknowledgments

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pp. viii-13

What first began as a stimulating conversation about tradition in contemporary folkloristics morphed into an exciting conference panel on the subject; ultimately, our extended conversation developed into this book, and its publication has been over four years in the making. As editors, we...

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Introduction: Living Traditions in a Modern World

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pp. 1-21

In his 2007 presidential address to the American Folklore Society (AFS), later published in the Journal of American Folklore, Bill Ivey boldly asserted that “antimodernism is a central motivating engine that runs through all of folklore” (Ivey 2011, 11). Painting a vivid picture of the archetypical...

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1. Thinking through Tradition

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pp. 22-48

The word TRADITION is itself traditional in folklore studies. John Aubrey used it in his Miscellanies in 1696. In 1777 John Brand identified tradition—indeed, oral tradition—as central in the preservation of the rites and opinions of the common people (Dorson 1968a, 1:8). W. J. Thoms...

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2. Critical Folklore Studies and the Revaluation of Tradition

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pp. 49-71

If we accept the proposition, as Henry Glassie asked us to do nearly a generation ago, that tradition is “the creation of the future out of the past” (Glassie 1995, 395), we benefit in turn by questioning how strongly a commitment to that-which-came-before motivates contemporary folklore studies...

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3. Vernacular Authority: Critically Engaging “Tradition”

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pp. 72-99

At a wedding reception I once attended, a banquet-style midday dinner of steaks, potatoes, and more traditional Filipino dishes gave way to wine, mahjong, and conversation. “Joan,” recounted stories of her childhood in the rural Philippines.1 She described her “Auntie Loling” who had...

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4 Asserting Tradition: Rhetoric of Tradition and the Defense of Chief Illiniwek

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pp. 100-122

TRADITION is a powerful word. It calls authority and emotion and personal investment into being; it creates socially recognized realities, drawing ostensibly on the past, but is not necessarily grounded in anything but the community and discourse of the present. I first recognized this power...

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5. Curation and Tradition on Web 2.0

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pp. 123-148

The European roots of folklore studies lie within the nineteenthcentury explosion of the collection and publication of traditional expressions. Those expressions were documented, “artifactualized,” and made consumable by the curious among the emerging educated middle class and analyzed...

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6. Trajectories of Tradition: Following Tradition into a New Epoch of Human Culture

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pp. 149-173

Tradition is a nexus of the past, the present, and the prospective future, a place where human agency engages with some of the more substantive constructs of the past. As Henry Glassie once wrote, “(h)istory, culture, and the human actor meet in tradition” (Glassie 1995, 409)....

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7. And the Greatest of These Is Tradition: The Folklorist’s Toolbox in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 174-185

I clearly recall the moment when, in an Advanced Folkloristics graduate seminar, a classmate of mine gave in to her mounting frustration, slammed her book shut, and demanded to know how she wasn’t an anthropologist. As a class, we were reading the works of several anthropologists,...

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8. The “Handiness” of Tradition

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pp. 186-218

I argue in this essay that grasping the “handiness” of tradition is the key to the analytical strategy of folklore studies; the way people perceive the hand (active, immediate, instrumental, gestural, and visible), particularly in relation to the mind (passive, remote, nonproductive, individualized, and...

About the Contributors

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pp. 219-221

Index

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pp. 223-225


E-ISBN-13: 9780874219005
E-ISBN-10: 0874219000
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874218992
Print-ISBN-10: 0874218993

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Folklore.
  • Tradition (Philosophy).
  • Oral tradition.
  • Communication in folklore.
  • Semiotics and folk literature.
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