English 335: Louisiana Folklore Course Logistics Meetings: 11:00–11:50 MW(F), HLG 321 Instructor: Pr. John Laudun, HLG 356, Tuesdays 9:00–2:30 and by appointment. Course Description Someone once called Louisiana a “folklore land” and we do live in a state, and in a region of the state, where folklore not only abides in abundance but is the subject of a great deal of attention by scholars and citizens, tourists and natives. This course encourages students to take a closer look for themselves not only at the folklore that surrounds and swathes each of us but also at the various ways it has been and is currently being represented. Taking a closer look requires students to go out and “see” for themselves various aspects of Louisiana folklife – some of this will be fieldwork and some of this is simply participatory – but such activities are a requisite part of the course. Course Objectives This course is designed with three simple goals in mind: (1) that students possess a basic understanding of the scientific and historical contexts for understanding the cultures of southwest Louisiana, (2) that students engage in at least one documentary project which contributes to our understanding of the people who make up Louisiana, and (3) that students produce one piece of high quality documentary writing. Course Texts & Materials Ancelet, Pitre, Edwards. 1986. Cajun Country. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. Ancelet, Barry Jean. 1994. Cajun and Creole Folktales: The French Oral Tradition of South Louisiana. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. Gaudet, Marcia and James McDonald (ed). 2003. Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. Other course expenses may or may not include admission fees to area folklife parks and/or supplies for recording and producing various kinds of documentary projects. The text books listed above offer a general background and some specific treatments of topics central to the study of south Louisiana’s folk cultures. They operate in the background, with suggested readings timed to make your understanding of particular lectures, discussions, or activities more profound and complete. Any and all materials found in the texts can, and will be on any quiz or exam. Please note that in addition to the texts above, I am also experimenting this semester with the posting of a small collection of documentary films on our course’s Moodle site. Some viewings will be required in advance of a particular class, so that we may focus our discussion in the wake of the viewing. Other viewings will operate as background material for our discussions, but do be aware that they will be on the exams. In all cases, these documentaries are copyrighted materials that we are allowed to use in educational contexts thanks to the Fair Use provision of the copyright laws. Do not under any circumstances copy these materials in any fashion. Doing so risks more pain, bad feelings, and perhaps legal penalties than any of us can imagine. All you need to do is find yourself a reasonably good network connection and the hour or so that viewing the video requires. Open your browser, click on the link, take notes. Nothing more. Course Requirements To meet the course objectives enumerated above students must attend both in-class lectures and discussions as well as view a number of materials made available to them as part of this class. This course is best when taken by independent, self-motivated learners. The materials we deal with come from life itself: there are often no clear-cut lines and, indeed, sometimes the materials themselves can be inflammatory or embarrassing. Assignments PARTICIPATION & QUIZZES (20%). Regular participation means being in class (on time), prepared, and participating actively both through listening and through talking. No more than two absences will be excused without consent of the instructor. As noted above, the chief delivery vehicle for information in this course is in class. From time to time, to check for comprehension and currency, I give in-class quizzes, which are folded into your participation grade. Unlike the exams, which are scheduled in advance and can also be made up, quizzes are one-time-only affairs. EXAMS (30%). There are two exams in this course, which cover materials from lectures, discussions, readings, and viewings. The purpose of the exams is for you to demonstrate to me and to yourself your knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical and historical material presented in class. Without that foundation, then much of the rest of the course will do you little good. FOLKLORE DOCUMENTATION (50%). This course has at its core a collaborative project: an encyclopedia of Louisiana folklore collected, compiled, and crafted by you. Some parts of it will be straightforward data entry. Other parts will be based on your own research. The nature of your contribution is to be decided in consultation with me and your fellow classmates. Emergency Evacuation Procedures A map of this floor is posted near the elevator marking the evacuation route and “Designated Rescue Area.” Students who need assistance should identify themselves to the instructor. Contact Information Do not hesitate. Immediately look around where you are sitting and get the name and number of two responsible looking people. Not the cute man nor woman — because getting his or her number that way would be just creepy, but someone who has at least your level of maturity, if not higher. Contact: Contact: The Fine Print Much of the information to be gleaned from the formal instruction in this course is in the lectures I give, the discussions we have, and the documentaries we view. That means that attendance is foundational to a student’s success in this course. What happens in any given class of this course cannot be found anywhere else. If you must miss a class, please contact one of the people whose names you entered in this syllabus for notes on what you missed. Additionally, it cannot be emphasized enough that this is a class in folk culture, which is typically learned, practically by definition, outside the sphere of formal instruction. This course is designed to provide, within the walls of the classroom, students with a basic grounding in the theory of folklore studies, the principle dynamics of most folk cultures, the history that informs Louisiana’s folk cultural matrix, and particular examples drawn from particular Louisiana folk cultures. All of this will be foundational to your understanding and appreciation of either the folk cultures with which you grew up and/or in which you now find yourself immersed. No understanding will be complete without any experience of folk culture itself. A number of the activities in this class require students to interact with practitioners of a Louisiana folk culture. For most, this is typically family and friends, but it could be mean, for some, having to interview with individuals you know less well. Please be sensible in doing this. Because all experience unfolds across time, often a significant amount of time, students must be prepared to spend time outside of class, interacting with others in a thoughtful way that respects not only others but that this experience is a part of their own education. A lack of seriousness and a lack of respect for all involved — instructor, one’s self, fellow students, folk practitioners — represents a failure to grasp the root ideas and issues of folklore studies and of this course. Students displaying a lack of respect will find themselves in conference with the instructor and then the dean of students. Part of taking yourself, your learning, and this course seriously is that you agree to all the rules and guidelines on academic honesty laid out in the Student Bulletin. Plagiarism and cheating in this course will result, at the very least, in failure of the assignment; it can also mean failing the course immediately and, potentially, expulsion from the university. If in doubt about what to do or how to handle material not your own in your work, please see me. Helping you to figure that stuff out is part of my job. While it is my profoundest wish that this course be a fun and exhilarating one, it is one which will require attention and effort on all our parts to be so. It is my privilege to teach this course, and I do my best to be as prepared as I can be for all eventualities. I expect the same of you. That said, part of our effort to have the best possible classroom experience is leaving other things outside: pagers, cell phones, food, drinks, materials for other classes, etc. Please turn off any and all of these devices before entering the classroom. If yours go off, you will be excused from class. You are, however, permitted to use a laptop computer for taking notes — do not abuse your time, my time, or UWIN surfing the web (again, you will be excused from class immediately) as well as an audio recorder. Please do note that I regularly incorporate a variety of copyrighted material within my lectures that may or may not be indicated in the course of a lecture, and that any remaining materials are copyrighted by me. By granting you permission to record lectures, I do so with the understanding that the recordings will only be for your use and only your use in the pursuit of your education. You may not share copyrighted materials with others. By the same token, I take your intellectual productivity and property equally seriously. Students who generate quality documentation of a person, place, event, or behavior are regularly encouraged to submit their materials to the Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore. I may also ask a student for permission to retain a copy of your materials for use in future classes. I try to return materials in an orderly fashion, but time sometimes works against such efforts. Any and all materials belonging to you that are left in my possession at the end of the semester will probably be disposed in the first few weeks of the following semester unless you indicate otherwise — I simply don’t have room to store all student materials forever in my tiny office. Course Schedule The schedule flexes in response to student interested, experience, and expertise. I have found in the past that when I posted a series of dates, that it confuses students when we either move more quickly or more slowly than those dates suggested we might. The best way to track this course if, first, to use your own notes, but you will also find that the lecture outlines posted on Moodle will give you a reasonable indication of where we have been and where we are going.