The Best Selling Folklore Collection Ever: The Folklore Theory and Goals of A Treasury of American Folklore (1944)

Jerrold Hirsch (Truman State University, emeritus)

A Treasury of American Folklore is the best selling folklore anthology ever published. Despite, or perhaps because of, the controversy surrounding the book among academic folklorists there has been no analysis of the folklore theory and goals B. A. Botkin clearly stated in his introduction to this volume. This paper will provide a close reading of Botkin’s effort to explain to a popular audience his ideas about folklore and the role knowledge of American folklore could play in a democratic culture. While doing this, he also warned against a cult of folklore promoting chauvinism and racism.

Part of 02-09 Reevaluating Folklore's Past and Present, Thursday, November 02, 10:30 am–12:30 pm