Course name: Appalachian Folklore
Department, course #, level: English 446, undergraduate
Semester(s) and year(s) taught (without significant variation): Every fall, 1981-2002
Institution: Radford University
Instructor(s): Ricky Cox
(540) 831-6153 (o)
(540) 789-4145 (h)

Grace Toney Edwards

View the Fall 2002 syllabus, with reading schedule, in the Adobe Portable Document (PDF) format: cox_edwards446.pdf (size 138k)

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APPALACHIAN FOLKLORE, English 446, Fall 1999

Ricky Cox, 106B, Buchanan House
Office Ph: 831-6153 Home: (540) 789-4145 E-Mail:
Office Hours: Tues. 2:00-3:30 PM, 5:00-6:00 PM; Wed. 8:30-9:30 AM; Thurs. 2:00-3:30 PM.


Barden, Thomas E., ed. Virginia Folk Legends. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991.

Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Study of American Folklore. (4th Ed.) New York: W.W. Norton & Co., ?Inc., 1998.

Eiler, Lyntha Scott, et al. Blue Ridge Harvest. Washington: Library of Congress, 1981.

?NOTE: Blue Ridge Harvest is NOT in the RU bookstore—Copies will be on reserve in McConnell Library

Page, Linda Garland and Eliot Wigginton, Eds. Aunt Arie: A Foxfire Portrait. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC ?Press, 1992.

Roberts, Leonard. Up Cutshin and Down Greasy. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, ?1988,1959.

--You will also need a handbook for planning, organizing, and submitting your field collection project. The ARSC will provide a copy for your use this semester.


This course is designed to provide a definition, demonstration, and analysis of the folklore of the Appalachian Mountain region. It will move from the verbal lore of tales, ballads, and sayings to the non-verbal or partially verbal lore of customs, games, and rituals, and finally to the material lore of structures, designs, and landscapes. The emphasis in the course will be divided between classroom study, which will include video, audio, and live demonstrations of the various genres of folklore, and fieldwork, which will require collections and analyses by you. As a means of acquainting you with the Appalachian people and their culture, this study should prove especially useful to those of you intending to seek employment or already working in the region in education, health professions, law agencies, religious organizations, social services, cultural preservation, business, and industry.

OPPORTUNITIES (or requirements, depending upon your view of the world):

1)?Reading of assigned works by due dates.

2)?Regular class attendance. More than two absences may result in grade penalty.

3)?Regular participation in and contributions to class discussion.

4)?Occasional impromptu in-class writing exercises.

5)?Occasional in-class demonstrations of folklore, such as storytelling, jokes, music, craft displays, etc.

6)?A biweekly log recounting your reactions to class activities, to the reading you are doing, the field work you're engaged in, etc. The log should contain an entry every other week of at least two full pages (if handwritten). It should be kept on loose-leaf paper in a folder with pockets so that subsequent entries can be added. (Class will be divided for staggered due dates.)

7)?Field trip to Selu Conservancy, date to be announced. Include a reaction to Selu and our visit there in your next scheduled log entry (in addition to your regular log entry).

8)?Field trip to Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, Ferrum College, Saturday, October 23, 1998. Include a brief reaction in your next log. If this is not possible for you, see no. 9 for one alternative.

9)?Appalachian Folk Arts Festival, Radford University, Family Weekend, Saturday, October 2, 1997. Include a reaction in your next scheduled log entry.

10)?Analytical paper (2-4 pages, typed) based on the Ferrum trip or the FAF at RU: You are to pick one activity at the festival to observe in detail (ask some questions, too!). Your paper should include (in roughly equal proportions) each of the following: A description of the activity; a classification (using SAF, the handbook, and your best judgement) of the activity as to type or genre of folklore; a discussion of the tradition out of which it comes; and an analysis of its significance, past and present, in the Appalachian culture it represents. DRAFT DUE: Nov. 2, for peer sharing. FINAL DRAFT DUE: Nov. 9.

11) Major investigative field project: A collection of folklore (preferably from the Appalachian region) and written analysis of its significance. Your collection will include most of components described (with examples) in A Handbook for Preparing a Folklife Project. The collection should be supported by tapes, slides, photographs, artifacts, etc. as appropriate to your topic. The format should follow the models and instructions in A Handbook.... With your permission, your collection and analysis will become a part of the Appalachian Folklore Archive at the Appalachian Regional Studies Center in Buchanan House. FINAL PROJECT DUE: Tuesday, NOV. 30.

?NOTE: Written progress reports on your field project will be required at approximately four-week intervals (September 21, October 12, and November 16). Conferences with the instructor on your fieldwork and writing will also be scheduled as needed. Please let me know when you encounter questions about or problems with your field collection project.

12)?Presentation of field project to class, beginning Nov. 30 and continuing through the final exam period on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

13)?Mid-Term (10/5) and Final Examinations (due 12/14). The final is a take-home, essay exam.

14) Adherence to Radford University Honor Code:

By accepting admission to Radford University, each student makes a commitment to understand, support, and abide by the University Honor Code without compromise or exception. Violations of academic integrity will not be tolerated. This class will be conducted in strict observance of the Honor Code. Refer to your Student Handbook for details.


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