Toward a Grand Theory of Humble Theory, or Vice Versa [virtual]


Carl Lindahl (University of Houston)

Folklore’s most glaring social and methodological errors, most notably those connected with cultural evolution, grew from an uncritical embrace of grand theory and “universalist paradigms”. Yet some of our most sweeping generalizations, re-examined, do not contest, but rather validate, the descriptive, “close-to-the-ground”, “how”-centered perspectives now pervading folklore studies. This exploration considers one of folklore’s most durable universalist paradigms – J.G. Frazer’s characterization of magic – in tandem with the linguistic and psychological discoveries of Roman Jakobson, Lev Vigotsky, and A.R. Luria as a way of further grounding the methods and practice of twenty-first-century folklorists.

Part of 02-05 Reassessing Key Moments in Ethnography, Theory, and Disciplinary History [hybrid], Thursday, October 13, 10:30 am–12:30 pm