This is a wiki page that is editable by any member of the AFS website community. Please sign in and add relevant titles. Please add a sentence or two to describe the content and/or contribution the work makes to the field.
FROM OXFORD BIBLIOGRAPHIES (Folklore) by Simon J. Bronner
Folkloristic studies of aging usually concern childhood and
adolescence, but since the 1990s more studies have appeared examining folklore
as an adaptive device across the life course, including pregnancy and birth,
adulthood, and old age. A great example
is the relatively new customs of the "mid-life crisis,” which Stanley
Brandes (1987) convincingly shows to be
associated with American numerological beliefs and religious traditions. The
best of the older adult studies refer to the period of old age as producing its
own traditions instead of remembering past ages: Bronner 1996; Hunt, Zeitlin,
and Hufford 1978; Myerhoff 1980; Mullen 1992.
Excellent guides to the vast literature and subjects of children’s
folklore, often with more social psychological perspectives than studies of
ethnicity, occupation, and region, are Sutton-Smith, Mechling, Johnson, and
McMahon 1995 and Tucker 2008. Among the most cited studies of children’s
folklore, especially oral and social genres, are Bronner 1988, Factor 1988,
Knapp and Knapp 1976, Opie and Opie 2000, Sutton-Smith 1981, and Widdowson
1977. One can also consult the studies
of children’s play in the category of games and play. The indexed journal Children’s Folklore Review published since 1988 by the American
Folklore Society is an invaluable source for the development of folkloristic
studies of childhood. Pregnancy and Birth as a life stage receives worthy
attention in Dundes 2003 here and Davis-Floyd in the category of customs.
Bronner, Simon J. American
Children’s Folklore. Annotated
Edition. Little Rock: August House, 1988.
Shows that folklore among children is vibrant and is fueled
by modernization rather than being displaced by it. Introduction identifies themes of the lore
within the contexts of changing conditions of children being more on their own
than in the past.
Published since 1990 by the Children’s Folklore Section of
the American Folklore Society, this journal is the main outlet for essays on
Dundes, Lauren, ed. The
Manner Born: Birth Rites in Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Walnut Creek, CA:
AltaMira Press, 2003.
Shows the variety of traditions surrounding birth through
infancy. Includes essays on placenta rituals, beliefs about children born with
a caul (amniotic membrane), midwifery, and maternal birthing positions.
Factor, June. Captain
Cook Chased A Chook: Children’s Folklore in Australia. New York: Viking
Shows children to be both conservative in their adherence to
tradition and innovative in their adaptation and invention of folklore in
play. Discusses valuable functions of
folklore in children’s development and distinctive contexts of Australian
Grider, Sylvia Ann, ed. "Children’s Folklore.” Western Folklore. Special Issue. 39, no.
3 (July 1980).
Contains often-cited essays on "Newell’s Paradox”
(simultaneous conservatism and innovation of tradition by children) by Gary
Alan Fine, cooties belief complex by Sue Samuelson, and dramatization of
children’s narratives by Elizabeth Tucker.
Knapp, Mary, and Herbert Knapp. One Potato Two Potato…: The
Secret Education of American Children. New York: W. W. Norton, 1976.
Describes folklore as a "secret education” because it
provides lessons about cultural exprectations to children outside the formal
confines of home and school. Posits functions beyond entertainment for this
lore as forms of social legislation among children.
Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie. The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. New York: New York Review
of Books Classics, 2000.
Originally published in 1959, this British study showed the
vibrancy of children’s folklore despite predictions of its doom at the hands of
mass media and formal schooling.
Sutton-Smith, Brian. The
Folkstories of Children. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
Important for its psychological assessment of the
development of narrative competence in children. Shows that story-telling
capacity occurs as early as two years old and develops with cognitive
structures influenced by cultural traditions.
Sutton-Smith, Brian, Jay Mechling, Thomas W. Johnson,and
Felicia McMahon, eds. Children’s Folklore: A Source Book.
Logan: Utah State University Press, 1999.
Originally published in 1995, this volume covers the genres
and settings of children’s folklore and methodology and theory applied to their
study. Also includes historiography of
the field and an extensive bibliography.
Tucker, Elizabeth. Children’s
Folklore: A Handbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008.
Assesses scholarship in children’s folklore and provides
examples of its various genres. Includes extensive resources of books and
Widdowson, John. If
You Don’t Be Good: Verbal Social Control in Newfoundland. St. Johns:
Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1977.
Focuses on stories of bogeyman and other
creatures used to exert social control of and by children. Includes a type index to the bogeyman theme.