My blog was established in conjunction with my participation in FOLK-F121 "World's Arts and Cultures" at Indiana University, Fall 2007.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I was extremely excited to read about ethnographies in Ch. 7 of our text book. Last year, I was able to take an anthropology class that mainly focused on ethnographies. At the end of the semester I even had to conduct my own mini-ethnography. Since I am a volleyball player, I chose to base my ethnography on the differences of interactions and character between male, female, and co-ed volleyball teams. I focused greatly on the dynamic each team had, who was aggressive, techniques, and reactions.

It was interesting to find out that ethnographic research is the key to folklore. Chapter 7 states that ethnography is the process of studying and learning about groups of people, as well as the written description and analysis of those observations (Sims and Stephens p.202). According to the text, it is with this information learned that folklorists share their ideas (Sims and Stephens p.202).

I had no idea where I would want to go and what I would want to study, but then I noticed that Chapter 7 has a “finding ideas” section. I decided that the first step was deciding not where I wanted to do my ethnography, but what group I wanted to study. Since my major is education, I decided I would want to follow a group of young school children ages 5-10, and study their interactions with each other, their school system, and what their customs are during their school day. I then decided that I would want to go somewhere in South Africa. Their school system is so much different from ours, and as Americans, we often feel that other countries, such as Africa, have a lot to learn from us. I feel, however, that we as Americans have a lot to learn about what they value in education, and how their students interact.

The text book provides a list of tools that I believe are very essential for conducting an ethnography: tape recorder, video recorder, and journals (Sims and Stephens p.206). The journals would be used for my field notes, which are used to provide me with an in-the-moment record of what is going on during my field work (Sims and Stephens p. 206). The tape recorder would be for my interviews that I would have with the children and their teachers. I feel like this would be worth doing because I could learn a lot about my profession, what teaching techniques kids enjoy, and how to incorporate other cultures into my curriculum.

This is my response to Ch. 7 Reflection Question.

Sims, Martha C., and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ch. 6 Reflection

As Chapter 6 of our textbook explains, there are many approaches to interpreting folklore. Many of these approaches may overlap each other, but they still have traits that are their own (Sims and Stephens p# 174). I actually really enjoyed reading this chapter, and have two favorite approaches to interpreting folklore.

The first process of interpreting folklore that I enjoy is structuralism. I really appreciate the flow of conversations, stories, jokes, riddles, etc, and how each can relate to each other, or be tweaked very slightly to tell another story. As the book says, structure is more than a plot; it includes characters with settings, actions, and words (Sims and Stephens p. #179). Like that, the structuralist approach does more than help describe or understand one aspect of a story (Sims and Stephens p. #179). After reading the section of structuralism, I came to realize and understand that words can have a completely different meaning and interpretation from story to story, or riddle to riddle. I suppose that this is one of my favorite ways of interpretation because I like the power of words, and much of the structuralist interpretation done my folklorists was geared toward verbal genres (Sims and Stephens p. #183).

The other form of interpretation that I like is psychoanalytic interpretation. I used to want to be a psychology major, so this form of interpretation was right down my alley. Psychoanalytical analysis involves the interpretation of symbolic meanings within texts that illuminate shared development and life experiences of all humans (Sims and Stephens p. #187). I love reading stories and fairytales that are made to symbolize topics much deeper than the actual story touches on. One big example for myself is the Chronicles of Narnia series. I love the religious symbolism that is behind the novels, but never talked about throughout them.

This is my response to Reflection Question for Chapter 6.
Sims, Martha C., and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005

Sunday, November 25, 2007


For my next encounter project, I decided to do an album review. Since my boyfriend is Iranian, I decided to do my review on a Persian artist. I figured that this could be a good way for his parents and I to connect on something that is familiar to them. As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, I attended an Iranian concert with his family, which was when I was really introduced to this type of music. The album I decided to review was Esfahan, by Moein.
The first song on the album is his big hit, as well as the title of the album, Esfahan. I really like the use of the flute in this song. Usually, in the music that I listen to, the flute is not present. Also, the flute was used repeatedly throughout the album, which shows that the flute is an important instrument in Persian culture.
My favorite song on the album was track 4, Asfoon. I like it because Moein’s voice is basically the only instrument used throughout the track. Also, his voice sounds different from the vocals that I am used to listening to. He can actually make his voice sound like an actual instrument.
I actually really loved this album and would definitely recommend it to any of my friends. The use of symbols, flutes, and drums made the tracks fun to listen to. I would describe it as very middle-eastern and mostly upbeat. Persian music is really all about celebrating life to the fullest.
This is my Encounter project.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Before reading chapter five, I just thought of performance as a regular form of entertainment. The only things that came to my mind were plays, musicals, and dace recitals, and even when thinking of these examples, I never delved into all of the parts that make it a performance. I never thought that simply just having a conversation with someone is also an example of a performance. I suppose that makes sense, since songs and plays are generally made up of words and conversation, but I had never really thought that me talking to my mother could also be considered a performance. I gave a presentation the other day for another class and didn’t even realize that I was giving a performance at that very moment for my class.

One important aspect of performance is setting. Since I always thought of performance as a play, I imagined that a characteristic of most performances is a big, lavish set meant to catch the audience’s eye. Now I know this is not true. The scenery can be anything from the living room of my house to, like my earlier example, the classroom. It doesn’t have to be something hand made to get a reaction from an audience. It is just a place where the performance happens.

Probably the biggest thing that changed my aspect of performance was the audience’s role. From my perspective, I used to think that the audience was the least important part of a performance. I figured that it didn’t matter, as long as you had actors and a play, they could put it on for fun and it could still be considered a performance. After reading this chapter, I realized that I couldn’t be more wrong. The audience is by far the most important part of the performance. They are why the performance is even taking place, and their interaction with the performers is what helps make many performances work.

I would say that the way I looked at performances has been changed greatly by reading chapter five.

This is my response to reflection question 5.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pottery making

Over the weekend I had the perfect opportunity to be able to watch my uncle make a clay pot from scratch. It’s something he’s been doing for about thirty years. He learned when he was ten years old from watching his father. Back then they lived in Illinois on a farm where clay was very plentiful. About one time out of the year, my grandfather and my uncle would walk out to the edge of the farm where the clay was, dig it up, and come back to my grandfather’s workshop to make the pots. It was only a hobby for my uncle and grandfather, not a way they made a living. It was just something fun for them to do together about one or two times a year. This weekend, I went to Illinois with my family to visit my grandparents for their fiftieth anniversary party. While we were there, my uncle decided that he wanted to make a clay pot as a gift to them. I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to watch someone make something from scratch for the encounter project that has to do with material culture. I asked my uncle if I could follow him around while he made the pot.

The first thing we did was walk to the edge of their plot of land where the clay is prominent. It had just rained their, and according to my uncle that was a good thing because it made it easier to dig the clay out of the ground. We only took about 1/4th of a wheelbarrow worth of clay back to my grandfather’s workshop to make the pot. The first thing he did was put the clay in this huge tub of warm water. My uncle explained to me that it helps soften the clay, making it easier to mold. He said the key was to not leave it in there for too long, otherwise it would get too soft, and be unable to be sturdy. The next step was to put the clay through a machine that my uncle called the wedger. This mixes the clay to give it the same consistency.

The next thing my uncle did was take the clay out of the wedger and play with it. He was trying to make sure that it was the perfect consistency it needed to be for his next step, which is molding the pot. He took the clay he wanted to use and put it on the electric spinner. He said that when he and my grandfather made pots, they had to use a manual spinner that they had to keep spinning by pushing on a pedal at the bottom, but now they make electric spinners that you plug in and can control how fast they spin by turning a knob. Needless to say he likes the electric spinner better. He uses water and the spinner to mold the shape of the pot he wants. In this case, he just wanted a simple pot, so it didn’t take him any time at all to mold it. Once the pot was formed, my uncle glazed it with a formula that he and my grandfather made up to help keep the in the pot form. Finally, he put the pot in this storage heater overnight. The next day, we came back out and the pot was finished. I asked if he was going to color it, but my uncle said that he and my grandfather were never interested in dying the clay to make it nice colors. They just liked the process of making a pot.

I asked if they ever sold the pots or jars they made, and my uncle said no. He said that they didn’t do this often, and that when they were done making pots, they wanted to keep them for sentimental value. So, in my grandfather’s workshop there is a collection of pots, jars, and milk jugs.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Rituals through Initiation

Rituals have always been a difficult thing for me to understand. I could never distinguish the difference between ritual, custom, and tradition. I always thought that they were three different words meaning basically the same thing. In order to view a ritual from my own life, I needed to fully understand what ritual really was. Chapter four defines ritual as a particular type of tradition that many folklorists study as a distinct category of folklore. It continues to say that rituals are performances that are repeated, patterned, and frequently include ceremonial actions that incorporate symbols, action, repetition, and have a frame that indicates when the ritual begins and ends (Sims and Stephens p. #95).

Initiation is used as an example of ritual numerous times throughout chapter four. While looking back on my experience with rituals, I decided that my initiation into the thespian club at my high school was a ritual that truly meant something to me. The book mentions that initiation rituals may include reciting promises or pledges, performing embarrassing acts to prove ones willingness to be in the group, or being presented with ceremonial artifacts or clothing that shows others one is a member (Sims and Stephens p. #119). All of these were incorporated in my initiation into my high school’s thespian club. At the initiation I had to memorize and recite the thespian pledge, perform 3 embarrassing tasks given to my by the council members, and received a thespian pin to show my membership in the club.

Initiation rituals are used to create a cense of unique, shared experience with a particular group, setting them apart from others who haven’t had that experience (Sims and Stephens p. #120). This holds true for my initiation into the thespian club. It made our group closer, knowing that we had all been through the same experience that we could share with each other.

This blog entry is my response to Reflection Questions for Chapter 4.Sims, Martha C., and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005

Sunday, October 28, 2007


About two months ago, my boyfriend called and asked me if I would like to go to watch an Iranian singer perform with him and his parents in Indianapolis. Normally, I would say no, since Middle Eastern music isn’t my type, but then I realized that this would be a great opportunity to experience something from a different culture and be able to write about it for this class. I immediately responded with a yes, and made plans to go to Indy to watch an Iranian performer named Sara.

About a month ago, my boyfriend, his family, and I made the trip to Indy. His family is Iranian and listens to her music all the time, so I felt a little out of place. When we arrived to the venue, we walked inside and the walls were lined with golden ornate decorations and Middle Eastern music was playing over the intercom. There were booths setup in the lobby with different Middle Eastern instruments on tables as well as jewelry, clothes, and other native Middle Eastern commodities. The lights flashed and everyone was herded into the auditorium to take their seats. Then, one single spotlight hit the stage and Sara came out.

She opened with one of her more popular songs that a lot of people around me knew the words to. I don’t speak the language, so I had no idea what she was singing about, but I could tell with her facial expressions that it was about something emotional. Some people actually got up and danced, which was the most entertaining part of the concert. They dance a lot differently from how I dance. They move their bodies differently, and the males actually are more fluid, and move more than the females.

It was an amazing experience, and I’m so glad I was able to be there.
This is my response to Encounter Project 3

Sunday, October 21, 2007


When I was thinking about this reflection question, I wondered to myself, how many traditions do I belong to? If I do something twice does it qualify as a tradition? Do the same people have to be apart of the tradition? While reading chapter three, I realized that like a lot of lore, tradition refers to several related concepts (65). The book said that tradition has three main concepts: being the lore we share and the process by which we share it, creates and confirms identity, and is something a group identifies as a tradition (65).

I sat for a while, trying to think of a tradition that I was a part of that I felt was starting to disappear or one that has already disappeared. I realized that one very common and important tradition that has faded for my family is thanksgiving. The book says that since traditions exist because they are meaningful, they rarely ever end outright (75). I find this to be extremely true with thanksgiving in my family. Every year my family and I went to Washington, Indiana to my grandparents for thanksgiving. The whole family would rent out a mess hall and everyone would bring food. After my father and grandfather passed away, my family stopped going and started having small thanksgivings at our house in Evansville, Indiana. We still keep the same traditions, like always eating turkey and dumplings, playing basketball and football after dinner, and ending the night with cards. The thing that is missing is the mess hall, and the people.

I actually had a hard time finding a tradition that is becoming increasingly central to my life. My boyfriend goes to Purdue, and about once or twice a month, I go to West Lafayette to visit. Every Sunday around one, my boyfriend, his best friend, and I go to IHOP. We haven’t missed a Sunday yet when I go to visit. It has actually become something that is unspoken, just understood, which makes it a tradition to me. It’s always just the three of us, and we usually always order the same thing every time.

My boyfriend is Muslim, so I have witnessed many traditions that I don’t belong to. The main tradition that I have been able to take part in was their big dinner for the end of Rhamadan. They have this huge feast at their house every year with traditional Iranian food such as blended potatoes, green beans, and broccoli fried in a skillet, and lots of rice. The music was absolutely intriguing and their dancing was quite entertaining. It is nothing like what dancing is like from my culture. It was one of the most enjoyable nights I have ever had, and was really excited to be brought into their religious tradition for a day.

This blog entry is my response to Reflection Questions for Chapter 3.Sims, Martha C., and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Music Genres

While reading Cassandra’s blog entry about going to see the band Phil Lesh and friends play, I couldn’t help but realize how alike we both are. It is really hard for me to go see bands that I don’t know their style of music or have never heard of them. I have seen a psychedelic band play before, but they weren’t anywhere close to my dad’s age. They were all in their 20s and probably hadn’t been playing for very long.

I actually do usually stick to commercial music, that is music which is played on the radio on popular stations. Occasionally I like to mix it up with some musicals here and there, but honestly I don’t have that much of a variety of music in my life. Cassandra’s experience going to see this band reminded me of when I went to go see an Iranian singer with my boyfriend and his family. At first I was very skeptical, but once I got there and heard her sing I absolutely fell in love with her music. I had no idea what she was singing about, or saying, but the instruments and sounds she made with her voice were phenomenal. This experience taught me to be more open minded about other musical cultures and to appreciate different genres of music.

This is my response to peer review #2.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Taste of India

For my Encounter Group paper, I decided to tackle the task of going to an Indian restaurant and sampling some of their cuisine. I had heard that Indian food was traditionally spicy, but I wanted to find out a few more things about that specific culture’s cuisine before I went to the restaurant. I went on the internet and found out that most favorite Indian dishes are vegetarian, even though many traditional Indian dishes provide chicken, goat, lamb, fish, and other meats (Wikipedia). I also learned that the staples of all Indian food are rice and a variety of spices (Wikipedia). I figured that I like both spices and rice, so I was pretty excited to try Indian food for the first time.

I went home to Evansville, Indiana for the weekend to visit my family. Friday night after I got there, my mother suggested that the whole family go to lunch on Saturday at this new Indian restaurant called Karim’s. I figured this was a perfect opportunity to try many flavors of Indian cuisine and use my first experience for an encounter project.

My mother, her boyfriend, and my younger sister all went to Karim’s for lunch. We decided to order this combination platter that contained tandoori fish, which was basically spiced fish roasted in the oven. The only fish I really eat is salmon, so this type of fish really through me off. It was dark, and very, very spicy. I was preparing myself for more of a seafood taste, but there was no recognizable seafood taste to this dish. It was more like a very tender, spicy chicken. I didn’t dislike it, but it was too spicy for what I’m used to, so I probably wouldn’t order it again.

The next dish his platter contained was called nargisi kofta, which was basically meatballs stuffed with eggs. I actually really enjoyed this dish. It tasted like it might have been Americanized, since it was more salty than the usual mix of foreign hot sauces, spices, and herbs. I’m pretty sure that the nargisi kofta was the favorite food of the afternoon.

The last thing on the platter was the tukhm-e-murgh masala. I actually couldn’t recognize what it was, so I asked our waitress. She said that it was basically herbs and spices mixed up with eggs and curry. I honestly probably only had about two bites of this dish. It was extremely spicy, and I am just not used to that type of spice being incorporated into my diet. Also, it was really, for lack of a better word, mushy. I actually came to find that most of the food that Karim’s offered was more on the mushy side rather than crispy.

I actually really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the restaurant. It was full of very vibrant colors and played traditional Indian music while you ate. Overall, I liked the food that I tried. It was definitely different from anything I have ever had, but it was a good experience. Also, I did find a new favorite food of mine in the nargisi kofta dish. I really appreciate their love for herbs and spices and use of flavors. I wouldn’t mind going back again.
This is my response to the second encounter project on the restaurant visit.

Works Cited Last updated October 5, 2007.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

When I saw that our reflection question was about folk groups, I realized that I wasn’t sure what even qualified as a folk group. So many questions ran through my head. Can any group be a folk group? Does there have to be a specific number of people? Then I read that a folk group is essentially any group of two or more people who share a common factor (35). This is a vague way to think of folk groups, so then I went to look for how they form and start. The book lists five main ways that folk groups form: necessity, obligation or circumstance, proximity, regular interaction, or shared interest or skill (38). I have a specific group of people that I play volleyball with every week. This folk group was formed when we all met freshman year in a volleyball tournament that Teter dormitory was hosting. We liked the way each other played, and decided to form a group that gets together every week and plays volleyball for a few hours. According to the book, we formed because of a shared interest or skill (38).

Another important aspect about of folk groups is being able to identify yourself as a part of that group. According to our book, sometimes we choose groups that express the identity we want to create for ourselves, rather than find groups that express the identity we already have (41). I remember when I was younger I badly wanted to associate myself with my best friend’s religion, Lutheran. I wanted to be like her, so I felt that I needed to start going to her church, instead of my Catholic church. I now realize that the group that expressed the identity that I already had was Catholicism. Now I freely identify myself with the Catholic Church.

This blog entry is my response to Reflection Questions for Chapter 2.Sims, Martha C., and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Weekend Of Cross-stitching

A very important form of folklore in my life is cross-stitching, specifically the tradition of going to my grandmother’s in Washington, Indiana one weekend of the summer and cross-stitching with her and her friends. Every summer, my grandmother picks one weekend to have a weekend long cross-stitching party. It is basically a group of elderly women, and myself, coming together and spending a weekend of gossiping, eating, and mainly, cross-stitching together. It is located somewhere in-between material and customary folklore.

The basic theme of the weekend is women empowerment. The whole weekend is really about women leaving their husbands for a few days, getting together with other women, and discussing things such as their children, marriages, past loves, and recipes, all the while cross-stitching. It is actually a tradition that my great-grandmother began. My great-grandmother was a housewife while my great-grandfather worked on the farm every day. To pass the time, my great-grandmother would cross-stitch. Eventually, it became a thing where she invited other women that lived around her to come over and cross-stitch. There was always one weekend during the summer where the farmers would go away and sell their produce to markets. My great-grandmother decided that during this weekend, they should have a cross-stitching party. As soon as my grandmother was old enough, she was able to learn and take part in the cross-stitching party. When my grandmother became a housewife herself, she decided to reignite the weekend long cross-stitching party, and when I was sixteen, my grandmother invited me to visit for the weekend and participate. It is definitely a feeling of being part of a group because it is the same group of women every year.

This weekend is extremely important to me. This group of women is extremely special, and they have taught me so many things that I will carry on with me for the rest of my life. The whole weekend is almost surreal, because they tell me stories of when they were my age and I can see how their lives have progressed and how my life may progress. It is the most important weekend in my life, and I always make sure I am able to be there. Even though I may not live in a small town my whole life, I definitely plan on carrying on the tradition that my great-grandmother began.

This blog entry is my response to reflection question number one.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I can completely connect with Ashley’s post in response to Reflection Question One about her and her husband trying to teach their four and a half year old daughter to tell funny jokes. I work at Campus Children’s Center which is a full-time childcare program mainly for the children of Indiana University’s faculty, staff, and students. It now provides care for children from birth through preschool. I have the pleasure of working in the preschool classroom with the three to five year olds, which much like Ashley’s daughter, are at an age where they are starting to tell jokes.

Like Ashley’s daughter, the main problems that the kids have are understanding the punch line and knowing where the punch line is supposed to be in the joke. We actually have a book of knock knock jokes in our classroom, which has become a favorite for a few of the children. Every day when I walk in, these few kids have me sit on the couch and read them a few jokes. They try to repeat each joke after I say it, but a lot of the time they will say the punch line after I say “Whose there?,” instead of waiting for the “Blank who?”. Although, once they finally learn how to tell the joke correctly, I, along with their family, schoolmates, and other teachers, will hear the joke continuously for the rest of the week. It doesn’t matter how many times each child tells the same joke, it’s still funny because they are just as excited to tell it the 30th time as they were the first time.

This is my first peer review posting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

For my first encounter project, I decided to stick with verbal folklore and chose to do the joke or other verbal art project. The type of joke that my project focuses on is the knock knock joke. The specific knock knock joke that I heard went like this:

“Knock knock.”
“Whose there?”
“Atch, who?”
“Bless you!”

I heard this joke from one of my roommates three days ago. My two roommates, Ellyn and Marie, and I were in our living room, watching television and doing homework. Ellyn had her laptop with her and was checking her email when she came across one from her mother that contained twenty of her favorite knock knock jokes. She read a few of them to Marie and me, but she liked the one above the best. Throughout the whole night, Ellyn kept repeating the joke over and over again, laughing hysterically each time.

I know that knock knock jokes go way back, but I wasn’t sure exactly how long ago or how they originated. I figured my best bet was to go online and type in knock knock jokes to see what comes up. I ended up at, which said that South African school children used them in the early 1950s, but the exact origin of the knock knock joke is uncertain. Another website,, agreed that the origin of the knock knock joke is uncertain, but there is evidence of the use of knock knock jokes dating back to the time of William Shakespeare. According to this website, you can find a form of the knock knock joke in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, however, it did continue to say that there is no evidence that suggests this is how knock knock jokes originated.

After discovering that there is no real knowledge of when knock knock jokes originated, I do not feel like I can say whether this specific knock knock joke is old or new. If I had to take a guess, I would say that it came around in the 1950s when knock knock jokes were popular. Obviously, knock knock jokes are extremely widespread all over the world, but I wasn’t sure if this specific knock knock joke was known by few or many. I figured the best way to find out if this was a popular knock knock joke was to go online again and see if it was on popular knock knock joke websites. This specific joke was on every website I visited, but on some occasions it was worded differently, such as the “Bless you!,” would be replaced with “You’re Excused!,” or “Gesudheit!”. This is probably because this joke was passed verbally from generation to generation, undergoing different interpretations, much like the game telephone. Although we don’t know the origin of knock knock jokes, we do know that they are very widespread and is an extremely popular type of joke.

This post is my response to the joke or other verbal art project for my encounter project 1.