An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art

Book - 1997
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Designed for students, scholars, and general readers, this work focuses on folklore forms and methods from a cross-cultural, theoretical perspective.

âeuro;¢ Entries are cross referenced, and each includes a select bibliography to serve as a guide to in depth research

Publisher: Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, c1997.
ISBN: 9780874369861
Branch Call Number: 398 FOLKLORE V.
Characteristics: 2 v. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Additional Contributors: Green, Thomas A. 1944-


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Jun 24, 2015

An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art
ed,. Green, Thomas A. 1944-
Santa Barbara, Calif. :, ABC-CLIO,, c1997.
2 v. (xxi, 892 p.) :,ill. ;,26 cm.

While one does not usually review an encyclopaedia, as a folklorist, I cannot resist reviewing this one. Folklore is a scholarly field, in which I hold a PhD. However, it is also a subject pursued by amateurs, ranging from the well-informed to the ignorant, who are often not afraid to write books. Because Folklore is often presumed to be about "old stuff," many amateurs read the oldest books, containing theories and beliefs that scholars dismissed long ago, making much contemporary folklore writing a century or more out of date. (Few people wanting to learn about geology would seek out 18th- and 19th-century books, on the assumption that because rocks are old, the oldest books must be better.)

For those interested in Folklore, this encyclopaedia is a very good resource, whether for pursuing a particular topic or for browsing. The articles, written by academic folklorists who have devoted years to their specialized areas, are usually quite readable, though the odd one ("Ballads", for instance) contains obscure language and complex ideas that do not belong in a reference book of this type.

This encyclopaedia is far more up to date than the old reliable, Maria Leach's Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, written in the 1940's. Volume 1 covers "Academic Programs in Folklore" to "Hymns, Folk" with a variety of topics in between, including Folksong, Folktale, Belief, Architecture, Custom, and "Gay and Lesbian Studies and Queer Theory." Interestingly though, it is the contemporary topics that date the encyclopedia. "Xerox Lore" in Volume 2 -- those sayings, cartoons, stories, and so on, duplicated on office photocopiers and placed on staff bulletin boards -- has been largely replaced by Internet Lore, which developed after the publication of this book.

Folklore: An Encyclopedia is a good source for a serious researcher. If you wish to pursue a subject further, start by consulting both an article's bibliography, and its author's other writings. For someone with a passing interest in one or another folklore topic, this book will help you become better informed. (See: "From The Critics," above.)


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