Hello, and welcome to the Folklore & Fiction newsletter. In this edition, I'm writing about the ballad genre with help from scholars Gordon Hall Gerould, David Buchan, Roger deV. Renwick and others, helping you analyse a ballad, and discussing ways to bring ballads to your story craft.
I would add before going on that there are many ballad traditions in the world, each of them rich and nuanced. It would be impossible to write about them all here, so I don't intend to try. Instead, I'll be focusing on the ballads collected in Francis James Child's ten-volume work The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, which are among the oldest in the English language. I would also point out that even this collection of narrative songs represents a complex tradition I can only summarize in a newsletter. So I'll be...more
Hello, and welcome to the Folklore & Fiction newsletter. At the summer and winter solstices, I mimic the sun and pause to reflect on my own creative work. In this edition, I'll be discussing folkloric elements in my new short story entitled "B is for Burned/Every Broken Creature," which was recently released in the F is for Fairy anthology of short fiction.
An Excerpt from the Story
Among the humans, it was said that Óðinn once guided the mighty, eight-legged steed called Sleipnir too close to the Earth, and where his great hoof grazed the ground, Ásbyrgi Canyon came to be. The álfar were not the ancient gods of the North, nor did they worship these holy ones as some of their hálf álfur children did. Neither had they created the canyon with the ship that...
Hello, and welcome to the Folklore & Fiction newsletter. In this edition, I'm writing about the personal experience narrative genre with help from scholars William Labov and Joshua Waletzky, Sandra K.D. Stahl, Gillian Bennett, and others, helping you analyse a personal experience narrative, and discussing ways to bring personal experience narratives to your story craft.
Folkloric Definition of Personal Experience Narrative
Scholars William Labov and Joshua Waletzky define the personal experience narrative as a "...verbal technique for recapitulating experience, in particular, a technique of constructing narrative units which match the temporal sequence of that experience (Labov and Waletsky 1967, 13)." In other words, it's a verbal means of ordering personal...more
Hello, and welcome to the Folklore & Fiction newsletter. In this edition, I'm writing about the memorate genre with help from scholars Carl W. von Sydow, Lauri Honko, Diane Goldstein, and others, helping you analyse a memorate, and discussing ways to bring memorates to your story craft.
Folkloric Definition of Memorate
Swedish folklore scholar Carl W. von Sydow coined the term "memorate," which he defined as a personal experience narrative that often includes an encounter with a supernatural being (Dundes 1999, chap. 16). However, folklore scholars have since expanded the definition to include any first person narrative that includes a supernatural component. So if you see a ghost and tell someone about it, you're telling a memorate. If you have a premonition...
Hello, and welcome to the Folklore & Fiction newsletter. In this edition, I'm writing about the legend genre with help from scholars Linda Dégh and others, contributions from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore Archive, and a wee chunk of fiction by Patrick Rothfuss.
Folkloric Definition of Legend
Folklore scholar Linda Dégh spends no fewer than seventy-five pages exploring various definitions of the legend in her book Legend and Belief: Dialectics of a Folklore Genre. By itself, this is a good indication that legend narratives are widely studied among folklorists, and this edition of the newsletter certainly reflects that. But as always, my focus is on bringing folkloristics to writers, so I'm only going to offer those definitions I...more
Hello, and welcome to the Folklore & Fiction newsletter. In this edition, I'll be writing about the myth genre with help from scholars Alan Dundes, William Bascom, and others, helping you analyse a myth, and discussing ways to bring myth to your story craft.
Folkloric Definition of Myth
In his 1984 introduction to Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth, folklorist Alan Dundes provides the simpler of the two definitions I'm including here. He writes that "A myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world and man came to be in their present form (Dundes 1984, 1)." Well and good, but I think we need a bit more than that if we want to utilize myth in our writing.
William Bascom's 1965 article "The Forms of Folklore: Prose Narratives" offers a more comprehensive definition. He...more
Hello, and welcome to the Folklore & Fiction newsletter. In this edition, I'll be introducing you to folklore genres with help from scholars Alan Dundes and others, discussing how the concept of genre can be both helpful and problematic, detailing a few ways to classify genres, and showing you how to use this information as a writer.
What is folklore?
In 1846, British writer William Thoms coined the word "folk-lore" in a letter written under the pseudonym Ambrose Merton to a literary magazine called The Athenaeum. Thoms contributed little else to folkloristics, but because he gave the discipline its name, we remember him for it. Indeed, he would not have had it any other way. Alan Dundes writes that among other self-congratulatory gestures, he was given...more
Welcome to Folklore & Fiction, the Internet home of scholar and author Ceallaigh S. MacCath-Moran | C.S. MacCath. I'm a PhD student of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the author of two collections of short fiction and poetry. Folklore & Fiction replaces the old C.S. MacCath website but contains all of the original content thanks to the phenomenal web development skills of my beloved husband and business partner, Sean, who built and themed what you see here.
Some things to know:
First and foremost, the Folklore & Fiction newsletter will launch tomorrow with "An Introduction to Folklore Genres." The focus of this newsletter is folkloric scholarship for writers, and it will be published on the first Folklore Thursday (#FolkloreThursday) of the month except in June and December, when I'll send subscribers an update on my publishing activities. These updates will go out on the summer and winter solstices. ...more