Lore is learning: folklore is a body of knowledge and a means of transmission. Vernacular knowledge, and vernacular transmission, each rooted in language.
Languages of sign, symbol and the body confront us daily, some time-honoured, some very new, and how we read them informs how we act, whether to conform, or to rebel. Folklore socialises us into a community of knowledge, but not all communities are generous. Modern media produce myths and reproduce memes, their speed and reach unprecedented. Rumour, misinformation and conspiracy theory have results – from climate-change denial to vaccination scares – which are anything but imaginary.
Formal education and training is no more – or less – formative than the informal, everyday vernacular literacies that we absorb from our peer groups or families. A proverb is a condensed lesson; a ballad or a fairy-tale has a moral more often than not; a rite of passage may encapsulate a trade’s culture. And the landscape, whether rural or urban, is a theatre of memory and the backdrop of local legend.
So yes, lore is learning. But how do we learn folklore? How do we learn about folklore? This conference of the Folklore Society will address issues such as:
The uses of traditional folklore in formal education
The relationship between formal education and vernacular practices
Informal learning structures in trades and professions
Family and kin as transmitters of songs and performance traditions
School idiolects, customs and costumes
Children’s lore and language: topical rhymes, parodies, the child’s calendar
Mnemonics and tongue-twisters
Proverbs and how they are learnt...or mislearnt
Acquiring verbal fluency; for example, flyting and rapping
Schoolchildren in folklore, from Little St. Hugh to the Worst Witch....
Supernatural beings who impart skills and knowledge
Folklore in children’s literature, television, films, and computer games.
Caroline Oates at the Folklore Society, 50 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5BT, UK; telephone +44 (0) 203 915 3034