Folklore as a pursuit

I’ve started to think that I want to pursue follklore and textuality as an academic interest, combining that pursuit with a related interest: orality and literacy. I’m taking Barry Pearson’s class ENGL629A Readings in Folklore and Folklife, and while I’m interested in the stories, I’m mostly interested in how these stories come to be represented to the general public. For example, in the case of Zora Neale Hurston and her work for the WPA (nice segue to grandpa’s log below)–what the heck was going on? Who had influence on how she collected and how she presented it? The Library of Congress? Franz Boas, her Columbia anthropology mentor? How about the Lippincott company who published her book Mules and Men?
While I find these questions interesting, the thought of actually going out and collecting folklore sounds daunting. It feels like a violation in some respects, like that horrible feeling of going door-to-door selling candles for the swim team or thin mints and do-see-dohs (sp?) for the good ole Scouts of Girls. How much theory would you have to muddle through and contemplate all the time to not feel like you are (a) taking advantage of someone else for your own perceptions of “good stuff” and “what the world needs to hear/know” and (b) misrepresenting that “good stuff” for the same reasons? Too complicated for me. I’ll stick to collecting family stories and leave that field work out there for the braver team members. Then, I could come in and critique what these outfielders have caught and how they tally the stats.
Collecting folklore sounds as frightening to the introvert as teaching English 101 for the first time . . . wait a minute . . .

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