Western Folklore

Vol. 73, No. 4 – Fall, 2014


The Devil's Pact: Diabolic Writing and Oral Tradition
Kimberly Ball

ABSTRACT: This essay examines the relationship between the Devil and Writing in oral tradition, expanding on Thomas Sebeok’s observation that the repeated appearance of these two concepts together in folk narrative indicates that they are “related in meaning” in the thinking of informants. I suggest that this relationship reflects particular circumstances in the milieux of collection (nineteenth and early twentieth-century rural Europe), but also reflects essential qualities shared between the Devil and the written word. KEYWORDS: devil, writing, folk narrative, literacy, contract

Tatar and English Children's Folklore: Education in Folk Traditions
Liailia Mingazova and Rustem Sulteev

ABSTRACT: In the recent years’ world literature, children’s literature and folklore problems have started to be considered one of the most important issues. This is because folklore spiritually educates children, building the fundamentals of spiritual and moral education. Therefore, there are significant issues around the educational importance of folklore that can be explored separately, for example, the importance of children’s folklore in education. The purpose of this research is to emphasize the role of Tatar and English children’s folklore in education. KEYWORDS: Tatar, children, nursery rhymes, genres, sources, educational importance

Memetics and Folkloristics: The Theory
Elliott Oring

ABSTRACT: Richard Dawkins first defined the meme in his book The Selfish Gene in 1976. He suggested that the meme was the cultural equivalent of the gene—a replicator—that was subject to the forces of natural selection. The evolution of culture, consequently, could be explained in Darwinian terms. Within a short period of time a substantial literature on memetics—the science of memes—was produced expanding upon and refining Dawkins’ insights. This essay reviews memetics, identifies some problems resident in the theory, and suggests what would need to be done before it can profitably be applied to explain folklore or the evolution of culture more generally. KEYWORDS: memes, memetics, evolution, natural selection

Memetics and Folkloristics: The Applications
Elliott Oring

ABSTRACT: In “Memetics and Folklorists: The Theory” (Oring 2014), the ideas of Richard Dawkins and other memetic theorists were described and critiqued. This essay focuses upon the use of memetics in folkloristics and those substantial attempts to apply memetics to corpuses of folklore or folklore-related problems. Of particular concern are Jack Zipes’s memetic explanation of the fairy tale; Bill Ellis’s discussion of the viral nature of contemporary legends; Chip Heath et al.’s experiments with urban legend selection; and Michael D. C. Drout’s meme-based approach to tradition that focuses on the Benedictine reform in ten-century Anglo-Saxon England and the “wisdom poems” of the Exeter Book. KEYWORDS: memes, memetics, evolution, natural selection, fairy tale, urban legend, tradition


Jennifer Reid, Finding Kluskap: A Journey Into Mi'kmaw Myth
Reviewed by Pauleena MacDougall

Elliott Oring, Just Folklore: Analysis, Interpretation, Critique
Reviewed by James P. Leary

Ann K. Ferrell, Burley: Kentucky Tobacco in a New Century
Reviewed by Amy Maxwell Howard

Pekka Hakamies and Anneli Honko, Theoretical Milestones: Selected Writings of Lauri Honko
Reviewed by Timothy R. Tangherlini

Frank de Caro, Stories of Our Lives: Memory, History, Narrative
Reviewed by William Schneider