Western Folklore

Vol. 71, No. 3/4 – Summer/Fall, 2012

Engaging Folklore: Essays in Honor of Elliott Oring
Special issue edited by Maria Teresa Agozzino


Acknowledgments from the Guest Editor
Maria Teresa Agozzino

[From the article]: For decades Elliott Oring has been a cornerstone in the field of folkoristics. His exemplary record of publication, international participation, teaching, and service clearly demonstrates his lifelong commitment to the field of folklore.
When I first conceived of a festschrift in 2008, I wanted to assemble a collection of essays from scholars that would celebrate and engage different stages of Oring’s life and work. The contributors have done that and more, and I am grateful for their considerable time and commitment in bringing this volume to life.

A Brief Biographical Sketch of Elliott Oring
Bill Ivey

Publications of Elliott Oring
Andrew Peck


Poles, Jews, and Jokes in America's Upper Midwest
James P. Leary

ABSTRACT: Folk cultural aspects of Polish-Jewish relations in the United States, despite more than a century of co-settlement, have been largely ignored. Indeed the many publications on Jewish jokes and Polish jokes do not include a single study focused on Polish-Jewish jokes in America. This essay examines jokes told about Jews by Poles in America’s Upper Midwest, discerns their mostly positive meanings, and offers explanations grounded in historical and ethnographic research. KEYWORDS: ethnic jokes, humorous anecdotes, Polish Americans, Jewish Americans, Upper Midwest

The Elusive Presence
Lee Haring

ABSTRACT: A joke from the Southwest Indian Ocean island of Mauritius points to the notion of presence. In folklore studies, presence is a “transcendental signified,” something lying beyond structure or interpretation. Revered by authorities like Alan Dundes, Robert Plant Armstrong, and Kirin Narayan, it comes into question when viewed through the eyes of a Jacques Derrida or Jacques Lacan. KEYWORDS: jokes, psychoanalysis, presence, Derrida, Lacan.

Stories and "Oral History" Interviews: A Thematic Analysis of "Embedded" Narratives
Frank de Caro

ABSTRACT: A number of stories, mostly personal narratives and anecdotes, demonstrate in the context of a Judd project in “historical ethnography” that the sorts of shorter oral narratives “embedded” in larger oral accounts can be very useful in the study of oral history, including the kinds of oral history that have particularly interested folklorists. Stories recounted by informants who were looking back at their days in colonial India reveal themes which can be important clues to understanding history and society, such as—in the present case—the imperial ethic itself and the worldviews that animated the colonial endeavor. KEYWORDS: personal narrative, colonialism, ethnographic oral history, India, Iegend

Women and Blood Libel: The Legend of Adil Kikinesh of Drohobycz
Haya Bar-Itzhak

ABSTRACT: This artide deals with Jewish blood libel legends and women, as expressed in legends about Adil Kikinish of Drohbycz. As with many Jewish blood libel legends created as a reaction to the Christian blood libel legends, these legends refute blood libel accusations and tell about the deliverance of an individual or community. Alongside these deliverance lRgends we find also Jewish historical legends that end with the hero’s death. The legends about Adil Kikinish belong to this category, and end with the death of the heroine. In this article, I analyze the legends about Adil told in Hebrew and Yiddish in the context of other 1egends about women in times of persecution. These legends create several key paradigms and, like other Jewish legends set in times of persecution, establish heroines who transcend the bounds of gender behavior. KEYWORDS: legend, blood libel, women, persecution, gender.

Foiled Again: The Playful Ethics and Aesthetics of Jokes
Moira Marsh

ABSTRACT: In this paper I will explore the reception of jokes. I will use practical jokes as examples, but my intent is to make claims about the reception of verbal jokes as well. I contend that joke reception arises from the interplay of three essential characteristics of jokes, namely their nature as aesthetic objects, their transgressive nature, and their playful essence. Jokes are artistic; jokes are bad if they are any good, and jokes belong to the realm of play. The aesthetical character of a joke is not an incidental frill on top of its essential humorousness but is deeply intertwined in the cognitive and emotional processes that determine whether or not a particular person will decide to find a particular joke funny. Using these observations I propose a modification to Jennifer Hay’s 2001 model of the pragmatics of humor support. KEYWORDS: jokes, practical jokes, humor, aesthetics, play


Lawrence Rodgers and Jerrold Hirsch, editors, America's Folklorist: B.A. Botkin and American Culture
Reviewed by Tim Lloyd

Gregory Schrempp, The Ancient Mythology of Modern Science. A Mythologist Looks (Seriously) at Popular Science Writing
Reviewed by Tok Thompson

Diane Tye, Baking as Biography: A Life Story in Recipes
Reviewed by Kate Holbrook

Jonathan H.X. Lee and Kathleen M. Nadeau, editors, Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife
Reviewed by Margaret Capili Magat

Ellen F. Steinberg and Jack H. Prost, From the Jewish Heartland: Two Centuries of Midwest Foodways
Reviewed by Steve Siporin

Henry Glassie, Prince Twins Seven-Seven: His Art, His Life in Nigeria, His Exile in America
Reviewed by Peter Harle

Maria Tatar, editor and translator, The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm
Reviewed by William Gray

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor, Hide, Horn, Fish, and Fowl: Texas Hunting and Fishing Lore
Reviewed by Simon J. Bronner

Russell Frank, Newslore: Contemporary Folklore on the Internet
Reviewed by Lynne S. McNeill

Harold Scheub, The Uncoiling Python: South African Storytellers and Resistance
Reviewed by Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler

Lisa Gabbert, Winter Carnival in a Western Town: Identity, Change, and the Good of the Community
Reviewed by Pauleena MacDougall