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date: 22 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, schools and colleges are considered as a physical and social setting for folkloric transmission as well as a topic and theme in legend and narrative. What distinguishes schools and colleges culturally from other institutions are the prominent storied roles of student, professor, and dean that often become folktypes in both popular and esoteric narratives, rituals, speech, and customs. Folklore can appear hyperbolic and transgressive, and it is often in direct response to the perceived formal character and rigid hierarchy of the school and college. More so than other institutions in American life, schools and colleges manage play as well as work, and they are frequently identified with landscapes set apart with the classical or pastoral image of the “campus” containing buildings referred to as hallowed “halls” and special interior spaces of the “classroom” and “lecture hall.” This chapter considers the social, historical, and material contexts of schools and colleges generally that affect the transmission, generation, and practice of folklore and folklife as a critical area of cultural research, and it suggests ways to explain the educational experience as a particularly folkloric as well as formative one in American lives. In addition, it interprets the distinctive aspects of education in three age-related divisions: from kindergarten to middle school, high school, and undergraduate institutions.

Keywords: colleges and universities, education, folklife, folklore, legend, pranks, rhymes, sexuality, students

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