Pennsylvania Dutch Contributions to Folklife Study and the Longing to be Whole

R. Troy Boyer (Lebanon Valley College)

It is recognized that Pennsylvania Dutch scholars were among the pioneering folklife researchers in the United States, who widened the field of phenomena that would prove fruitful for folklore study. But what is often overlooked is that these scholars’ understanding of folklife also had a theoretical underpinning that addressed some of the recurrent foundational themes of folkloristics, including tradition, culture, and the folk. I will argue in this paper that the viewpoints of the Pennsylvania Dutch folklife scholars have their origins in an almost “natural” perspective on life arising from their ethnic background and why these positions should still inform our field today.

Part of 26-05 Race, Ethnicity, and Nation in the History of Folklore and Folklife Studies, Tuesday, October 19, 5:15 pm–6:45 pm