Folklore's Grasp on Social Life
Indiana University Press 2016
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in CommunicationsNew Books in FolkloreNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network March 22, 2018 Timothy Thurston
Humble Theory: Folklore’s Grasp on Social Life (Indiana University Press, 2016) is an anthology of essays from Dorothy Noyes, professor of English and Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University and president of the American Folklore Society. The collection of essays takes aim at some of the critical questions that the discipline of folklore faces in the twenty-first century. From seminal keyword essays (monsters, she calls them) on group, tradition, and aesthetics that set out the state of the field, to studies of the historical uses of tradition at different moments across Europe, to critiques of present-day slogan-concepts like Intangible Cultural Heritage and resilience, Humble Theory: Folklore’s Grasp on Social Life (Indiana University Press, 2016) sets out to see how the discipline of folklore, with its emphases on vernacular theorization—as opposed to grand or high theories—provides unique insights into society more broadly. Ultimately, it seems, the strength and weaknesses of folklore might simultaneously lie in the fact that the field and its theories are humble: low and close to the ground.