Just Folklore

Analysis, Interpretation, Critique

by Elliott Oring

Published by Cantilever Press


“Elliott Oring is a superb writer—clear, thoughtful, and to the point. In this gathering of essays, he provides a stimulating survey of the ideas and topics of the folklorist's discipline.”
—Henry Glassie, College Professor Emeritus of Folklore, Indiana University

“Over the years, Elliott Oring has produced publications which have significantly shaped the study of folklore. This book presents much of this insightful commentary on a wide array of topics ranging from theory and history to many aspects of folklore and culture. It offers a lifetime of important reflections on folklore matters.”
—Frank de Caro, Professor Emeritus of English, Louisiana State University

“Taking nothing for granted, Oring cracks open many of the concepts at the very foundations of folklore studies—folk, lore, legend, tradition, evolution, art, truth, politics, theory. He has the uncanny ability to draw complex insights from the simplest of terms while simultaneously simplifying the complexities of history and ideology with a blindingly clear logic. The essays gathered here illuminate the path that the discipline of folklore has traveled and also provide direction for a meaningful folkloristics of the future.”
—Michael Dylan Foster, Associate Professor of Folklore, Indiana University

Just Folklore is a remarkable collection of essays on the forms and concepts of folklore. Jokes, legends, beliefs, ballads, rituals, routines, and material objects are dissected to reveal the ways they are constructed and the meanings they can convey. Tradition, transmission, symbol, group, identity, and other key concepts in the field are scrutinized to expose hidden problems and to suggest directions that folklore studies might fruitfully explore. Although originally written for folklorists, these essays are accessible to serious students new to the field. They will provoke discussion and debate. Students can find in these essays provocative and compelling models for the analysis and interpretation of the arts and traditions of everyday life.

A teacher's guide offering preliminary suggestions about lecture and discussion topics, resources, and assignments for using Just Folklore in the classroom is available for download at the bottom of this page. It is hoped that contributions from teachers using the book will significantly expand this guide and increase its usefulness. Suggestions about additional resources, lecture and discussion topics, and student assignments can be made by emailing .

Elliott Oring is professor emeritus of anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles, and serves on the editorial boards of Humor: International Journal of Humor Research and Journal of Folklore Research. He has written extensively about humor, folklore, and cultural symbolism.

Imprint: University Press of Colorado

Book Details

  • Hardcover Price: $59.95
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-9855214-1-7
  • Paperback Price: $29.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9855214-0-0
  • Publication Month: September
  • Publication Year: 2012
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Elliott Oring
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-9855214-0-0