It has become something of a truism in folklore studies that until recently the lore was more often studied than the folk. That is, folklorists concentrated on the folklore—the songs, tales, and proverbs themselves—and ignored the people who transmitted that lore as part of their oral culture. However, since the early 1970s, folklore studies have begun to regard folk performers as people of creativity who are as worthy of attention as are artists who transmit their ideas in writing. This shift of emphasis has also encouraged a growing interest in women folk performers.
Until recently, folklorists tended to collect folklore from women on only a few topics such as health and games. In other areas, as Weigle and Farrer have noted, if folklorists “had a choice between a story as told by a man or as told by a woman, the man’s version was chosen.” It is still too early to tell how profoundly this situation has changed, but one can point to several recent studies in which women performers play central roles. Perhaps more telling is the focus of the most recently published major folklore textbook, The Dynamics of Folklore. Whereas earlier textbooks gave little attention to women and their folklore, this book devotes many pages to women folk performers.
Recognition of women as important bearers of folklore is not entirely a recent phenomenon. As early as 1903, a few outstanding women folk performers were the focus of scholarly attention. Bur the scholarship devoted to these women tended to focus primarily on presenting the performer’s repertoire. Recent works about women folk artists, however, have been more biographically oriented. Juha Pentikainen’s study of Marina Tokalo, a Finnish healer and narrator of folktales, is especially extensive and probing. Though interested in the problems of repertoire analysis, Pentikainen gives considerable attention to the details of Tokalo’s life and cultural background, so that a full picture of a woman and her folklore emerges. Another notable work is Roger Abraham’s book, which presents a very clear picture of the significance of traditional singing in the life of noted ballad singer Almeda Riddle. Unfortunately, unlike Pentikainen’s study, Abraham’s study contains little repertoire analysis.
These recent books reflect the current interest of folklorists in viewing folklore in context and thus answering questions about what folklore means to the people who use it. One unexpected result of this line of study has been the discovery that women may use the same folklore that men use, but for very different purposes. This realization has potential importance for future folklore studies in calling greater attention to the type of study required if a folklorist wants truly to understand the role folklore plays in a particular culture. Which one of the following best describes the main point of the passage?
(A) It is only since the early 1970s that folklore studies have begun to recognize women as important bearers of folklore.
(B) A careful analysis of the repertoires of women folk performers has led to a new discovery with important implications for future folklore studies.
(C) Recent studies of women folk performers have focused primarily on the problems of repertoire analysis to the exclusion of a discussion of the culture within which the folklore was developed.
(D) The emphasis in folklore studies has shifted from a focus on the life and the cultural background of the folk performers themselves to a broader understanding of the role folklore plays in a culture.
(E) A change in the focus of folklore studies has led to increased interest in women folk performers and to a new understanding of the importance of the context in which folklore is produced.The author of the passage refers to The Dynamics of Folklore primarily in order to
(A) support the idea that it is too soon to tell whether or not folklorists are giving greater attention to women’s folklore
(B) refute Weigle and Farrer’s contention that folklorists prefer to collect folklore from men rather than from women
(C) support the assertion that scholarship devoted to women folk performers tends to focus primarily on repertoire
(D) present an example of the new emphasis in folklore studies on the performer rather than on the folklore
(E) suggest that there are some signs that women folk performers are gaining increased critical attention in the field of folkloreThe focus of which one of the following books would most clearly reflect the current interest of the folklorists mentioned in the last paragraph?
(A) an anthology of tales and songs collected exclusively from women in different cultures
(B) a compilation of tales and songs from both men and women covering a great variety of traditional and nontraditional topics
(C) a study of the purpose and meaning of a tale or song for the men and women in a particular culture
(D) an analysis of one particular tale or song that documents changes in the text of the folklore over a period of time
(E) a comparison of the creative process of performers who transmit folklore with that of artists who transmit their ideas in writing According to the passage, which one of the following changes has occurred in the field of folklore since the early 1970s?
(A) increased recognition of the similar ways in which men and women use folklore
(B) increased recognition of folk performers as creative individuals
(C) increased emphasis on the need for repertoire analysis
(D) less emphasis on the relationship between cultural influences and folklore
(E) less emphasis on the individual performers and more emphasis on the meaning of folklore to a culture It can be inferred from the passage that early folklorists assumed that which one of the following was true?
(A) The people who transmitted the folklore did not play a creative role in the development of that folklore.
(B) The people who transmitted the folklore were not consciously aware of the way in which they creatively shaped that folklore.
(C) The text of a song or tale did not change as the folklore was transmitted from one generation to another.
(D) Women were not involved in transmitting folklore except for songs or tales dealing with a few traditional topics.
(E) The meaning of a piece of folklore could differ depending on whether the tale or song was transmitted by a man or by a woman. Based on the information in the passage, which one of the following is most closely analogous to the type of folklore studies produced before the early 1970s?
(A) An anthropologist studies the implements currently used by an isolated culture, but does not investigate how the people of that culture designed and used those implements.
(B) A manufacturer hires a consultant to determine how existing equipment in a plant might be modified to improve efficiency, but does not ask employees for their suggestions on how to improve efficiency.
(C) A historian studies different types of documents dealing with a particular historical event, but decides not to review newspaper accounts written by journalists who lived through that event.
(D) An archaeologist studies the artifacts of an ancient culture to reconstruct the life-style of that culture, but does not actually visit the site where those artifacts were unearthed.
(E) An architect designs a private home for a client, but ignores many of the client’s suggestions concerning minor details about the final design of the home. The author of the passage uses the term “context” (line 50) to refer to
(A) a holistic assessment of a piece of folklore rather than a critical analysis of its parts
(B) a study that examines a piece of folklore in light of earlier interpretations provided by other folklorists
(C) the parts of a piece of folklore that can shed light on the meaning of the entire piece
(D) the environment and circumstances in which a particular piece of folklore is used
(E) the location in which the story line of a piece of folklore is set The author’s attitude toward Roger Abraham’s book can best be described as one of
(A) wholehearted approval
(B) qualified admiration
(C) uneasy ambivalence
(D) extreme skepticism
(E) trenchant criticism
Kudos if the post helped!
Kudos if the post helped!
The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night. -H.W. Longfellow