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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Exploring the history of ideas remains crucial to the historiographic work in American folklore and folklife studies. Folklorists since the nineteenth century have consistently tracked the variability of traditional expressions and the communities in which they circulate amid the challenges and opportunities of changing social relations, communications technologies, and modernization. Even in the digital age, folkloristic histories investigate recurring behaviors and expressions that involve processes and products, individuals and communities, and the particular and the universal. In considering transitions of American historiography from hidden usable pasts to emerging professionalism and from the community concerns of folklife studies to the potential alienation of a digital era, folkloristic work documents, preserves, and shares traditional expression in all available media. This chapter considers how this historiography reaches academic and popular audiences by investigating institutional successes and struggles through the lived experiences of individuals and communities.

Keywords: folklife, folklore, historiography, intellectual history, lived experience

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