This RC comprises of professors, selected adjunct professors, postdoctoral fellows and doctoral candidates in folklore studies at the University of Helsinki. It is a tight group of researchers who are in daily contact and share a common theoretical approach in the ethnographic and archival study of vernacular genres. By vernacular genres we mean locally emergent forms of verbal expressions that are either oral and traditional, or literary with close correlations to oral performance and social authorship. Such formalized expressions range from laments, incantations, rhymed couplets, proverbs, myths, epic poetry, folktales and belief legends to biographical narratives. Our main focus is in the analytical understanding of the oral transmission of culture, but because of the close interaction between written and oral forms of communication, we do not draw a sharp distinction vis-à-vis literacy and the culture of writing. Since for many of us ethnographic materials derive from archival sources, our research is informed of the terms that the conventions of print impose on textual representations of orality. Instead of using vernacular genres as tools of classification, we approach them as frames of performance and interpretation used in social situations for the communication of cultural meanings.
Five members of the RC are internationally acknowledged scholars who have functioned actively as supervisors of the rest of the members. Six members with a doctoral degree have defended their dissertation at the University of Helsinki, while two submitted their thesis to a foreign university, one in the United States and the other in Britain. Four members have finished their dissertations in 2010 and will defend them publicly in early 2011. The rest of the doctoral students in the group are in different stages of their doctoral work; seven are almost done, while two have started their work more recently. All of them have been highly successful in their applications for research funding.
Responsible person: Pertti Anttonen, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, Folklore
Participation category: 2