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date: 05 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides an overview of the analytical and fieldwork methodologies that are employed in the study of American folklore and folklife. It considers the history of method in folkloristics, as well as the historical tension between textual and ethnographic methods. It describes contemporary methods and tools, as they have taken shape since the discipline’s last major reorientation in the 1970s. The discussion of methodology includes different forms of ethnography, field collection, repertoire collecting, and analysis. Tools considered include indexes and archives, audio and video recording, photography, field notes, drawing and measurements, and mapping. Finally, the article covers emerging and potential methods and tools. This section gives particular attention to the integration of digital technologies into folkloristic research. It discusses ways that folklorists are working in digital settings, using powerful digital tools for data collection and analysis of both digital and nondigital folklore, and methods for collaborative work with participants. Informed by practice theory, this article makes the case that the study of aggregated performances and everyday practices of folklore is not only easier with the advent of digital tools, but it could also represent an important new way of linking the concerns for situational meaning-making of performance studies to practice-oriented scholars’ concerns with social structure.

Keywords: digital culture, folklore, ethnography, fieldwork, folklife, methodology, performance, practice theory, repertoire analysis, technology

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