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Folklore at a Glance

What is Folklore?

Folklore includes the traditional art, stories, knowledge, and practices of a people. But as much as folklore is a thing—oral narratives, handmade objects, internet memes, rituals, music, and dance—it is also a way of studying human creativity in everyday life.

For this reason, folklorists are particularly well-positioned to comment on a vast array of contemporary and historical issues including:

  • Chants, songs and slogans at political rallies and protests
  • Traditions of diverse ethnic groups in the U.S. and around the world
  • Holiday origins, practices, and traditions, both sacred and secular
  • Beliefs in conspiracy theories, contemporary legends, and the supernatural
  • Religious expressions in public and private spaces
  • Public policies that impact historically marginalized communities such as issues of poverty, healthcare, education, and immigration.
  • Social media trends, viral videos, and internet memes
  • Historical and contemporary figures that embody national, regional, and ethnic folk identities

You can find additional definitions of folklore, recent examples of folklore research, and media stories citing folklorists throughout our website.


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American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
Classroom-Office Building, Indiana University, 800 East Third Street, Bloomington IN 47405 USA
812/856-2379; www.afsnet.org

Headquartered on the campus of Indiana University-Bloomington, AFS appreciates the generous support of the IU College of Arts and Sciences.


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