Faculty List

Merrill Kaplan, Area Convenor

Long part of the English Department, the Folklore area was established by distinguished folklorist, linguist, and medievalist Francis Utley. While subsequent folklorists at the university have successfully collaborated with a variety of departments, the majority of folklore faculty and courses are in English.

Folklorists take a holistic, ethnographic approach to the study of culture, past and present. We enter a village, a factory, a church, or a student subculture to be instructed in the vernacular forms of expression used by that community to shape its reality and conduct its affairs. We approach historical and archival materials with a similar ethnographic lens and sensitivity to matters of context. We are particularly interested in the nature of and interrelations among text, context, genre, performance, aesthetics, identity, ideology, and tradition.

Students at the undergraduate level may pursue an English major with a concentration in Folklore. They may also pursue a major or minor through the Department of Comparative Studies. 

Graduate students can earn a PhD in Folklore through the Department of English. Graduate students in any department can receive a formal credential in folklore with the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization (GIS), offering a compact but rigorous preparation.

Key Courses

Undergraduate courses:
ENG 2270: Introduction to Folklore (also has Honors section)
ENG 2367.05: The U.S. Folk Experience (also has Honors section)
ENG 4577.01: Folk Groups and Communities (variable topics)
ENG 4577.02: Folklore Genres: Form, Meaning, and Use (variable topics)
ENG 4577.03: Issues and Methods in the Study of Folklore (variable topics)
ENG 4597.02: American Regional Cultures in Transition

Graduate courses:
ENG 6751.01: Introduction of Graduate Study in Folklore 1: The Philology of the Vernacular
ENG 6751.02: Introduction of Graduate Study in Folklore 2: Fieldwork and the Ethnography of Communication
ENG 7350.01: Theorizing Folklore 1: Tradition and Transmission
ENG 7350.02: Theorizing Folklore 2: The Ethnography of Performance
ENG 7350.03: Theorizing Folklore 3: Differentiation, Identification, and the Folk
ENG 8858: Seminar in Folklore (variable topics)

Affiliated Projects

Ohio State is home to the Center for Folklore Studies, which coordinates folklore course offerings across departments, facilitates research and community outreach, provides advice to students interested in the field, and maintains a sizeable folklore archive.