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AFS Review: Calls for Submissions

CFP: Folklorists Are Fallible

Thursday, June 16, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shannon K. Larson
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The following is a call for papers for a special seminar, entitled “Folklorists Are Fallible.” The seminar will be held in Tartu, Estonia, on June 9th-10th, 2017.

Folklorists, just like anybody else, are fallible. This special seminar aims to draw out the patterns of fallibility that folklorists show, and to explore what might be learned from this. In this light, submissions are invited within two major (and possibly overlapping) categories, the mistakes made by the famous researchers of the past and the mistakes modern day folklorists have made.

The errors that might be discussed can be found at every stage of fieldwork and analysis, including:

  • choosing informants,
  • presenting oneself in the field,
  • being at cross-purposes with one's interlocutors,
  • mistaking tone (light-hearted or serious?, literal or metaphoric?, etc.),
  • misreadings in the archive,
  • selecting follow-up questions,
  • transcribing,
  • translating,
  • editing,
  • making judgments about comparability,
  • presenting findings to scholarly and general audiences.

The principle underlying the seminar is that the discovery of error is something positive thing that gets one closer to the truth (or at least further from older errors), and that awareness of the limitedness of human knowledge is salutary. Thus, rather than highlighting faults in an effort to undermine the work of folklorists, the special seminar seeks to highlight faults in order for folklorists to accomplish their work better, both in terms of treating past research more shrewdly and in better planning future research.

The keynote speakers will be Carl Lindahl (University of Houston) and Karina Lukin (University of Helsinki). If you wish to give a presentation yourself, please email an abstract of between 150 and 300 words before November 30th to Jonathan Roper at

(The special seminar is organized by the Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore of the University of Tartu. There will be no participation fee, but participants are expected to cover their accommodation and travel costs).

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