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There have been many changes, of course, but the most important change for the current discussion is that Ole and Lars did not accompany me to Vermont. I had to leave them running from that train in Wisconsin. I could bring the bones of the joke, but I would need to understand the vernacular cultures of Vermont and New England before I could put flesh on those bones and make the joke relevant to my new students. It was easier to simply learn the jokes of the region, in order to have a repertoire more suited to the geographic environment.

One purpose of the joke, to laugh at the not-too-distant Other, is a useful thing to examine in any classroom dealing with the topic of identity. Finding localized examples of proximate otherness would allow me to have the same discussions in my Vermont classrooms as I had in my Wisconsin ones. My students in New England had specialized knowledge with which to make pedagogically useful meaning from folk speech; I just had to figure out what that knowledge was.

The role played by Lars and Ole in the joke, the proximate Other, is played by various figures all over the world. Poles, Newfoundlanders, Ukrainians, Gujaratis, Belgians, Karelians, Armenians, Swabians … the list is as long as the people who tell jokes Davies 9. The proximity of these people to the joke-telling groups in some way—geographically, culturally, linguistically—allows them to serve as the butt of the joke.

Some specialized, localized knowledge allows a joke hearer to fully interpret the cultural meanings of the joke.

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Norwegians and Swedes fulfill the role of rural, less sophisticated, foolish proximate Other in Wisconsin. Who do Vermonters tell jokes about? A Cajun, a Texan, and a Vermonter were standing around at a Midwestern country fair, watching as a prize heifer was awarded a blue ribbon. Big is the alligators back in the bayou country. Back there in the Louisiana bayou, we grow gators long as jet airplanes.

There is geographic proximity between Vermont and Quebec, but the connections between these two places are deeper than simply sharing a border. Vermont, especially northern Vermont, is heavily influenced culturally by the Quebecois, as evidenced by place and personal names. A quick glance at a map of Vermont shows Vergennes, Montpelier, Calais, Orleans, and a flip through the telephone book reveals many more names derived from French.

Clearly, there is commerce of culture across the border.

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In northwest Vermont, where Champlain College is located, there is a small town called Winooski, which has a particular connection to Quebecois immigrants. Due to hard times in Quebec in the s, there had been a steady stream of French Canadians to the falls [in Winooski], all looking for work … Now French Canadian and Irish men and women and children—at times whole families—went to work at the mills at reduced wages and without the benefit of company-maintained lodgings Feeney Students in Vermont may not immediately know the history of Winooski, or that many Quebecois came to Vermont for work.

However, just as the concept of Norwegian immigration can be folded into a classroom discussion in Wisconsin more easily than it can in other places, the idea of French Canadians as an immigrant group makes sense more easily to New England students.


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I could not tell this joke in Wisconsin and expect a similar recognition or reaction from my students. It would not be pedagogically useful to tell this joke in Wisconsin, just as it would not be terribly helpful to tell the joke about a Swede cuddling up to a sow in Vermont. In my classrooms, I explore issues of identity, especially the processes by which different identities come into contact with one another and what results from such contacts. In anthropology and folklore classrooms at the University of Wisconsin, these explorations were in the service of teaching various cultural theories to my students.

At Champlain College in Vermont, the same discussions serve a slightly different purpose, trying to get students to explore notions of individual and group identity to spark critical thinking. In both cases, using ethnic jokes is a handy pedagogical tool. Ethnic jokes rely on some standardized structures and common motifs, but they also rely on vernacular understandings.

Because ethnicity is simply one type of identity, and because both the general and the specific are necessary to get the full flavour of ethnic humour, ethnic jokes are particularly useful in a classroom that explores identities. Both Scandinavian and Canadian identities have been helpful to me as I have used this particular type of folk speech to get my students to explore some of the murky depths of identity construction and negotiation. Students can laugh at a joke without being able to derive pedagogical benefit from it.

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They certainly can make less use of a joke in a classroom environment if they do not get all the layers of the joke. By no means do I wish to limit the variations in folklore to geography. Obviously, linguistic, social class, religious, and many other types of difference can produce variation in a folkloric type. Surely geography plays a role, as it is one of the contexts in which a piece of folklore appears, but it is not the only creator and shaper of variation.

This process goes in two directions. English speakers in Quebec, whether Canadians or Americans, are often the marginalized butts of jokes made across the language line. There are many differences between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Champlain College, of course. I am not trying to pin all the difference on geography. Wisconsin is enormous around 42, total students , while Champlain is small around on-campus students ; Wisconsin is public, while Champlain is private; Wisconsin is a Tier I research university, while Champlain is primarily an undergraduate institution.

The difference in region does straightforwardly translate to different historical population shifts, which in turn translate to different groups being used as the butts of jokes. Yvonne Lockwood in Finnish American Rag Rugs: Art, Tradition, and Ethnic Continuity shows that distinctively designed rugs for Finnish American families generations removed from the original immigrants provide symbols of identity in a multicultural society.

Examples of recent folkloristic studies of these structures, which often involve ethnographic considerations of how assemblages arise and the beliefs inherent in a memorial at and pilgrimage to the site of death include Spontaneous Shrines and the Public Memorialization of Death , edited by Jack Santino; Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture by Holly J. In these works, authors focus on individuals who draw attention to themselves with structures that invoke traditions to convert their yards into showplaces for their creativity.

Folklorists have contributed immensely to research on food and medicine, usually emphasizing the contexts of social and cultural traditions. This question drives the challenging situations described in Powwowing among the Pennsylvania Dutch by David W. In a number of folkloristic works, relying on ethnic and regional food traditions that have not nationalized becomes important to indicate a sense of subcultural belonging.

This theme is apparent in Cajun Foodways by C. Cutting across the boundaries of folklore genres are thematic studies examining recurrent symbols, images, and characters. These thematic studies often show the symbolic significance of certain images in different cultures and make the case for their archetypal hold on a shared cultural imagination. Providing background to a spate of popular films and novels featuring vampires and zombies in the early-twenty-first century, a number of folkloristic works interpret bestial themes and images.

In his The Vampire: A Casebook , editor Alan Dundes presents various views, including his own incisive psychoanalytical interpretation that the representation of the vampire story is a projection of guilt in modern society for abandonment of the deceased by youth. Proverbs and Speech The issues of the relation of mod-ernism to folklore and rhetorical uses of folklore animate recent studies and reference projects on speech and narrative. Folktales In narrative studies, a spate of books reexamines the fairy and folktale genre.

Legends and Myths Often coupled with the study of folktales are studies of legend and myth.

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Jokes and Humor Although the bookshelf of folkloristic research of jokes is not as long as the one for legendry, folklore research has made a significant contribution to humor studies. Folk Music and Song Folklorists have been especially active in the study of folk songs and ballads as signs of regional and ethnic persistence. Art and Craft Folk art and craft also cover a wide range of materials, processes, and skills.

Food and Medicine Folklorists have contributed immensely to research on food and medicine, usually emphasizing the contexts of social and cultural traditions. Themes and Symbols Cutting across the boundaries of folklore genres are thematic studies examining recurrent symbols, images, and characters. Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R.

Shapiro editors ISBN: Fairy tales: A New history by Ruth B. Bottigheimer ISBN: Fairy godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the fairy tale tradition by Ruth B. Doty ISBN: Myth by Thomas A. Sebeok editor ISBN: What happens next? Turner ISBN: Haunting experiences: Ghosts in contemporary folklore by Diane E. Knopf, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The Folklore Historian no. Sheffield: Almond Press. GROSS eds. New York: The Macmillan Company. NOY, Dov ed. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Dallas: University Press of America. Tarragona: Publicacions Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

Commonwealth Papers Berkeley: University of California Press. International Journal of American Linguistics, 24, no. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University. Louis A. Austin: University of Texas Press. Ariadna Y. Anatoly Liberman. Theory and History of Literature, vol. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Series in Fairy Tale Studies. Detroit: Wayne State University. Tarragona: Publicacions URV. Stuttgart: J. Cotta, p. Berlin: Erich Schmidt, Folklore vol. The Elphinstone Insitute Occasional Publications 3. Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen. Leaders of Modern Anthropology Series. New York: Columbia University Press. Berkeley, CA: California Newsreel.

George W. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences no. The Athenaeum no. Englewood Cliffs, N. London: John Murray, Henderson and Talcott Parsons. New York: The Free Press. Translated by Edward A.

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Glencoe, Ill. Universitat Rovira i Virgili revistes. Open Journal Systems. Ajuda de la revista. Eines de l'article Imprimeix aquest article. Metadades indexades.

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Mida de la lletra. Text complet: PDF English. London: Routledge. New York: Routledge. Current Anthropology no.