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A Definition Of Folklore: A Personal Narrative, Dan Ben-Amos Jan 2014

A Definition Of Folklore: A Personal Narrative, Dan Ben-Amos

Departmental Papers (NELC)

My definition of folklore as "artistic communication in small groups" was forged in the context of folklore studies of the 1960s, in the discontent with the definitions that were current at the time, and under the influence of anthropology, linguistics - particularly 'the ethnography of speaking' - and Russian formalism. My field research among the Edo people of Nigeria had a formative impact upon my conception of folklore, when I observed their storytellers, singers, dancers and diviners in performance. The response to the definition was initially negative, or at best ambivalent, but as time passed, it took a more positive turn.