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Folklore is the vernacular knowledge, art, and practice coexisting with formal institutions. Not everyone is a novelist, but everyone tells stories. Not everyone is an artist or a theologian, but everyone works to give satisfying order to the material world and the cosmos. Not everyone is a politician, but everyone negotiates power relationships in his or her social milieu. And not everyone is a doctor, but everyone looks after body and soul according to conceptions of health shaped in long-term conversation with other people.

Folklorists study the social processes of communication in which vernacular expression takes shape, circulates, and is transformed. Drawing on ethnographic methods such as participant observation and oral interviewing, they work to make explicit the understandings implicit in everyday community interactions. Folklorists thus study the grounding of human creativity in social life. In addition, they study the interactions of vernacular cultural processes with formal institutions and professional practice. How are the codified messages and procedures of institutions incorporated into the continuous improvisation, recycling, and rearrangements of everyday life? How does vernacular process reshape institutions in turn? How does social power interact with cultural forms?

Our core faculty—Mark Bender, Katherine Borland, Ray Cashman, Merrill Kaplan, Margaret Mills, Gabriella Modan, Dorothy Noyes, John W. Roberts, Amy Shuman, Sabra Webber—shape a program with particular strengths in
Our eighteen associated faculty and ten associated scholars extend our expertise across the world and across more than a dozen academic departments. The folklore program collaborates with other excellent interdisciplinary centers at Ohio State, including the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Center for the Study of Religion, and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. Our graduate and undergraduate students come from a range of disciplinary and national backgrounds. They run the Folklore Students' Association, producing an annual conference.

Ohio State's interdepartmental folklore program offers a range of major and minor concentrations from B.A. to Ph.D. level, and the Center for Folklore Studies enjoys international visibility in the field. The field's professional association and learned society, the American Folklore Society, is housed at Ohio State's Mershon Center for International Security Studies.

The Center for Folklore Studies at the Ohio State University supports the learning, teaching, research, and outreach of folklorists and students of folklore. With participation from across the colleges of Humanities, Arts, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Education and Human Ecology, the Center provides OSU folklorists with a network for cooperation and interdisciplinary dialogue.

The Ohio State Folklore Archives has developed the FolkOhio website to provide online access to its collections. Archives highlights include (or soon will include) Pat Mullen and Tim Lloyd's fieldwork on Lake Erie fishermen; a bounty of urban legends; the student University District Oral History Project led by Ray Cashman, Galey Modan, and Martha Sims; Francis Lee Utley's research on medieval folklore; and a new collection on Chinese oral performance being curated by Mark Bender.