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For more information about Folklore and Folklife,at UPenn, contact Professor Dan Ben-Amos at dbamos@sas.upenn.edu.

For assistance with the Folklore and Folklife website, contact Linda Lee at lindalee@sas.upenn.edu.
 

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FOLK 009 301 Writing Seminar in Folklore and Folklife: Writing About Regional America

S. Reynolds
Lecture: Tues/Thurs 9--10:30

Fulfills the College writing requirement
Contact: sreynold@sas.upenn.edu

Do you drink soda or pop? Ever eat grits? Are you a fan of Zydeco, or Bluegrass music? Do you know who Rip Van Winkle is? Or, the Loup Garou? Or, Mrs. Leeds's baby? If you successfully answered any of these questions, then you probably know a little about different regions around the United State already. Even if you cannot find the Catskills on a map, or the Bayou on a globe, you are probably aware of the broad distinctions made between the Eastern and Western halves of the U.S. Or, maybe you know something about the longstanding differences between the North and the South.

In this course, we will explore several different region formations as they are found throughout the United States. Critical readings of both ethnographic and literary works will help us find out what makes regions distinct from one another, how they weave a national identity , and how they work in us to shape (at least in part) our own identities. Readings from a folklore theory, history and other academic disciplines will invite us to notice how "region," as a term of enclosure, frames and contains certain modes of experience while shutting out others in turn.

Throughout the semester we will ask difficult questions -- questions like, "Does it make sense to speak of a postmodern world?" As these questions appear, you will create your own answers in the form of regular response/reaction papers which will be graded, not simply upon your understanding of the reading material, but even more important, only the clarity of your argument and the technical excellence of your writing. To this end, we will spend portion of class time reviewing the many conventions of good writing, and "workshopping" our written pieces with one another. Time permitting, opportunities may arise for other creative projects, such as the collection of your own ethnographic field data and/or the exploration (field trips!) of our own region in and around Philadelphia.

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