Undergraduate degree: BA
About the major
Folklore is the study of cultural practices and expressions: traditional knowledge, lore, and meaning. Folk culture is spread informally, person-to-person and by example, and includes legends, memes, ideas, rituals, foods, superstitions, games, crafts, recreations, holidays, clothing, symbols, stories, songs, beliefs … and many more. They’re the things we do because we want to, not because we have to.
Folklorists study the history of these things and how they become sources of identity, continuity, and meaning. A folklorist might analyze American holiday traditions, or weaving in Macedonia, dance in Ghana, drama in India, activist songs in Oregon, or high school graduation rituals in the western US. “Public culture” refers to cultural practices that emerge into the sphere of public debate and influence — from videogames to controversial statues.
A little more info
- The University of Oregon’s folklore and public culture program is one of a few major centers of folkloristic research in the US.
- Folklore majors do “hands-on” study as part of the degree, with opportunities to learn traditional craft, dance, and other practices, as well as fieldwork investigating a folklore topic of their choice.
- Internships are widely available, including at the UO’s own Oregon Folklife Network, an important state cultural organization.
- Folklore and communications are the two fields with the greatest growth among humanities subjects (source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences Humanities Indicator Project).
- With more than 30 core and participating faculty, the program provides an interdisciplinary approach to an undergraduate major and minor, as well as a master’s degree, allowing students to create a focused course of study in their areas of interest.
Folklore graduates often choose careers in community organizations, arts organizations, nonprofits, museums, schools, and government. UO folklore and public culture graduates work in public and private agencies as educators, archivists, editors, arts and humanities consultants, museum curators, and festival planners, including organizations ranging from the Lane Arts Council to the National Endowment for the Humanities.