Western Folklore

Vol. 77 No. 1 – Winter, 2018


The Folklore of Small Things: Tradition in Group Culture
Gary Alan Fine
ABSTRACT: To understand the intersection of tradition and performance, folklore requires a robust theory of how small group culture shapes the creation and retention of expressive forms. Community depends on the activity of groups in which participants believe that they have shared pasts and prospective futures, hold a common identity, engage in joint activities, and are found together. It is through the practices of individuals working together, sharing interpretive frameworks and constructing joint meaning, that community and collective action is possible. The relations that are established among people and between groups—the existence of a set of interaction orders—allows the continuation of community. In this, participants incorporate stability, innovation, and even conflict, as long as there exists a recognized commitment to the group and its culture. KEYWORDS: Small Groups, Community, Performance, Folklore Theory, Idioculture

Tangible Communitas: The Los Angeles Wisdom Tree, Folklore, and Non-Religious Pilgrimage
Nikki Cox
ABSTRACT: The Wisdom Tree is home to a community of individuals unified through material culture which is located in a “wish box” that sits beneath the tree. I argue that the community is imagined, and, through the tradition of contributing notes and objects to the wish box, “tangible communitas” manifests. Furthermore, this site of tradition speaks to the importance of unrestricted public space and the ability of people to form and maintain a non-discriminatory community. KEYWORDS: community, communitas, Los Angeles, tradition, pilgrimage

Robert Benchley’s “Cooper Folk Songs,” “Typical New Yorkers,” and “Real Americans”
Michael J. Bell
ABSTRACT: This article examines two of the American humorist and critic Robert Benchley’s satiric essays, “The Cooper Cycle in American Folk Songs”and “Typical New Yorkers,” written in the 1920s to discover why he found it necessary, amusing and worthwhile to parody American folk scholars and their work. I argue that Benchley used the folk song scholarship of his era to question the scientific, literary historical approach to the study of folk tradition, the role of city life in the formation of post-World War I national culture, and the impact of both in creating and sustaining the American way of life. KEYWORDS: Benchley, Ballads, American Folksongs, New Yorkers, Americanism


John Holmes McDowell, ¡Corrido!: The Living Ballad of Mexico's Western Coast
Reviewed by Alex E. Chávez

Jason Baird Jackson, Material Vernaculars: Objects, Images, and Their Social Worlds
Reviewed by James I. Deutsch

Sondra L. Hausner, The Spirits of Crossbones Graveyard: Time, Ritual, and Sexual Commerce in London
Reviewed by Cory Thomas Hutcheson

Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner, The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online
Reviewed by Trevor Blank