Folklore Collection

Fundamentally, you need to document five items of folklore. They may be from a single group or from distinct groups with no contact with one another. They may be from a single event or from a number of them. They may focus on a single individual or they may involve large groups of strangers. You might, for example, exclusively document the folkloric use of alcohol among your family, religious group, ethnic group, friends, or other associations, or select items from several of them. You might maintain an organizing principle—for example, the use of beer or wine among different groups—or note differences and make comparisons.
Your focus should be on the folklore of alcohol. This would include such genres as traditional stories (such as the myths, legends, and folktales often introduced in class); names and nicknames for specific alcohol; proverbs and proverbial sayings; toasts; drinking songs; chants, jokes, prayers or spells that involve alcohol; personal narratives regarding alcohol; beliefs and superstitions; festivals; holiday celebrations; rituals (including rites of passage); parties; pub crawls; healing practices; hangover remedies; traditional gestures involved in alcohol production or consumption; drinking games; the process for making homemade alcoholic drinks; traditional recipes that entail alcohol; bartending practices and lore; and material culture such as drinking vessels or breweriana. You may also consider the storytelling practices that occur during a drinking session beyond the content, such as who speaks, who listens, who drinks, who abstains, etc.
You are welcome to focus on college life, but please understand that above all, you must secure the permission of anyone involved in the archived record and should not compromise the integrity of those involved. This means you may need to limit photographic images, employ pseudonyms, and do nothing without expressed consent. I will likely keep this archive indefinitely, but you are welcome at any point in time to contact me and ask that the material you collected be destroyed.
Although the minimum number of items required is set at five, this too needs some explanation. Technically, one toast made by five different people in a single round of drinks meets the requirement, but such a collection would likely not be fair in comparison with, for example, one detailing five different ethnic festivals and the alcoholic traditions associated with them. Five verbatim transcriptions of stories entail much more work than five summaries of those tales. In brief, be earnest in the amount of time and attention to this project, and if you have questions, please contact Professor Gencarella or a TA.
Best Approach for Collection and Documentation: You should consider the best approach for collection and documentation. Each project will have different needs. You may, for example, decide that participant observation is the most reasonable means to conduct research; for example, you may spend several outings listening to group members tell stories over drinks or may attend a holiday celebration or involve yourself in a rite-of-passage. Alternatively, you may decide that a more formal interview with someone may be conducive to your goals and the proper way to demonstrate respect to that person. You may combine participant observation with an interview; for example, you may spend time engaged in the preparation of a feast or a recipe that involves alcohol and then interview the cook.
You should document as much of the entry as possible. This means that you may need to take field notes (which may or may not be archived) and use equipment to record verbal and visual components of the item. But again, please be responsible to the people you engage and do not invade their privacy. If you intend to interview people, you should provide a list of questions and topics to be reviewed before the recording takes place.
Ideally, you should submit a copy of this record to be archived (such as on a DVD or flash drive). Similarly, you should attempt to include emails (which may substitute for transcriptions), images, and even text message exchanges that provide relevant information. In all of these cases, you may need to create a consent form and have the people involved sign it and leave instructions regarding the use of these materials.
You are welcome to work with groups with whom you do not have considerable acquaintance, but I strongly recommend that you consult with me or a TA beforehand in order to discuss the ethical matters of such research. If you intend to document activities that are dangerous, illegal, illicit, or entail expectations of secrecy, you must first consult with me.
Documentation Format: With all of these considerations in mind, the next step of the project is to begin visits, participant observation, interviews, and similar practices of gathering folklore. Each entry should provide the following information, even if collected from the same person:
• Name of the Informant(s) (or Anonymous)
• Place of Collection
• Date of Collection
• Genre of Item (such as proverb, festival, legend, drinking game, meal)
• Relevant Informant Data. This is written in paragraph form and may include name, gender, ethnicity, occupation, religion, age or approximate age, relationship to you, languages-spoken, etc. If you are the informant, identify relevant information.
• Item Description including Transcript or Images
• Relevant Notation of Inclusion of Audio or Video Record
• Contextual Information. This is written in paragraph form and may include cultural or social contexts, such as a rich description of the actual performance you witnessed or the typical conditions for performance, and/or a thick description of its typical meanings; relevant information about other audience members present should be here.
• Collector Comments. This is written in paragraph form and should include any additional information you consider relevant.
• Restrictions for Archiving or Permissions. Generally these would include the following options: No Restrictions, No Restrictions but Anonymous, Publication by Permission Only (which must explain the permission guidelines), Time Restrictions (such as “may be published after 2020”), and Limited Access (which requires further specific instructions, such as “after the decease of the informant”); if the collaborator is willing to allow the collection to be seen for a grade only but does not wish to allow archiving, then this section must clearly denote Not To Be Archived.
• Collector Name
• Collector Address and/or Email; ideally, this would be more permanent than your UMass information in case future scholars wish to consult with you.
All of this information should be arranged as detailed in the example page below.

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