restricted access 8. Examples of Folklore Projects
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232 CHAPTER 8 Examples of Folklore Projects To give you an idea of how folklorists—both experienced and novice— handle writing about their fieldwork, we’ve gathered together six projects for you to read and consider. The researcher-authors have put a great deal of time and energy into their work and its presentation. We are excited by the variety we have to show you: these are researchers and writers with varying levels of experience, and they have approached their work with different research methodologies. We think each of these projects presents interesting discoveries about group interaction and expressive culture, and each does so within its own unique structure, reflecting the type of information gathered and the way in which the researcher-author thinks it comes across most clearly and effectively. Through each of these examples, you can see some of the underlying research strategies and how the researcher’s involvement with consultants and their beliefs, values, behaviors, and texts shapes each ethnographic project individually (and sometimes how that research process affects the researchers themselves). We’ve discovered these authors and their essays through our work and that of our colleagues as writing and folklore instructors. Each of these essays incorporates description and interpretation important to writing up research. The description may be of a place, a process, a text, or the people involved, depending on what is important to the presentation of the folklore and to the interpretation of the researcher-author and the consultants . Information drawn from interviews may be summarized, but it is often included in the voices of the consultants themselves. Please note that in some cases,the researcher-authors used pseudonyms for their consultants,because of the personal nature of the experiences and insights reported. 233 Examples of Folklore Projects One of the Guys Joe Ringler Joe researched and wrote this ethnography of a fire station for a first-year writing class. One feature we really like about his project is the level of connection Joe made with his consultants at the fire station. As a first-term, first-year student, Joe was welcomed by the crew at the station, and that made his work with them personally as well as academically fulfilling. He spent a full term on the project, observing, interviewing, and generally just spending time at the station. “One of the Guys” illustrates the type of project that a novice folklorist might take on without extensive research other than fieldwork, with a particular focus on the culture of a group. In this case, there is not as much analysis as in the other studies, which required more background research in addition to work with the people and texts themselves. Joe’s research as a participant -observer provides him the kind of detail needed for the narrative style of this essay. We think this description of the station and activities of the unit shows, as Joe points out, the importance of camaraderie among the firefighters. A Fire Station? I arrived at Station 121 at about 3:30 Monday afternoon, Oct. 2nd. I had to hitch a ride from a police officer because I was confused about the location of the engine house.As the policeman escorted me to Station 121 he mentioned to me that the area was not a safe neighborhood for individuals to walk through. The officer exclaimed that the area has a high crime rate. This point that the police officer presented caused the butterflies in my stomach to flutter. I was already nervous about talking to the firefighters about my project, and he had to throw that information to me. The police officer pulled into the sloping driveway as my mind began to think of negative situations that I could be getting myself into. I thought about how the firefighters would reject my plans to observe them and send me off to walk home by myself through a neighborhood that wants to eat my raw flesh. I told the policeman thanks as he drove away to leave me stranded in the driveway. LIVING FOLKLORE 234 I stood on the site of the fire station on the corner of High Street and Maple Ave. I examined the apartments and houses that surround the engine house. The buildings were not as shabby and run down as I had imagined. The area was not out of the ordinary. Just a simple looking neighborhood. Let’s just say I have seen worse. I turned and directed myself towards the tan colored brick building...