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Research Guides

Folklore & Mythology: Home

Folkloristics, the study of Folklore, is the study of human expressive culture, and includes myths, legends, folk- and fairy-tales, jokes, proverbs, jump-rope rhymes, material culture, and much more.


Detail from Goblin Market showing badger-like goblins carrying baskets of fruit to a young woman snipping a tress of her flowing hair

Detail of Dante Gabriel Rossetti illustration from Christina Rossetti's poem, Goblin Market, 1862.

Citation & Writing Help

Scholars of folklore may use various citation formats.

Writing help is available in person and via zoom. You can schedule an appointment online.

Additional information on research.

What is Folklore?

Folklore, according to scholar Lynne S. McNeill, is at its core, "informal, traditional culture. It’s all the cultural stuff—customs, stories, jokes, art—that we learn from each other, by word of mouth or observation, rather than through formal institutions like school or the media." As such folklore offers rich insight into human behavior, creativity, and belief systems. Folklore encompasses a wide range of genres that McNeill characterizes as:

  • things we say (jokes, songs, folktales, myths, and legends)
  • things we do (calendar customs, rituals, games, and rites of passage)
  • things we make (handmade objects, collections and assemblages, and folk art)
  • things we believe (superstitions, supernatural creatures, and folk religion)

For additional information on folklore genres, see the entries in Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art for genres such as Art, Folk; Faerie and Fairy LoreFolktaleLegend; Material Culture; Music, Folk; Myth; and Ritual.

McNeill, Lynne S. Folklore Rules: A Fun, Quick, and Useful Introduction to the Field of Academic Folklore Studies. Utah State University Press, 2013.

Starting Points: Books

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  • By Topic - Type in the keywords that broadly describe your topic. For example: maori legends
  • By Title - Type in the first few words of the book title in quotations. For example: "folklore rules"
  • By Author - Type in the last name followed by the first name of the author in quotations. For example: "levaniouk olga"

Starting Points: Journal Articles

The following research databases will help you identify scholarly articles related to folklore. 

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Dan Mandeville
Dan Mandeville, Nordic Studies and Linguistics Librarian
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