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Folkore Courses

Semester 4

ΦΛ02  Introduction to folk narrative

I. Issues of folk literature: from the oral folk song to the printed folk poetry.

The oral and written nature of folk literature and tradition.

 The Greek folk song:

  • Its historical origins, its finding out. Its general characteristics, its oral nature.
  • From the collection of variations to the interpretation of the texts. From the aesthetic and literary approach to the problems of song classification and the examination of the circumstances and the social environment, in the context of which the song functions (when, by whom, why, to whom, musical instruments, dance, melody, etc.).
  • The folk song’s technique. Its creation process. The criteria of its oral nature. The formulae – set phrases.
  • The folk song today. The survival. The songs “on the fringe (of society)”, their social context.
  • Printed folk poetry as a form of folk expression. Its characteristics, its subjects, its role and functionalism within society.

Within the course, song texts, mainly of the “circle of life”, are examined, issues concerning social reality, which is indirectly depicted in them, are commented upon, and the pointing out of the beliefs of folk people is attempted.

II. Folk culture in neo-Hellenic literature.  (“Applied” Folkloristics).

Within the primary neo-Hellenic literature –before the folklorist Nikolaos Politis- and within the ethographies of the so called “80’s generation”, descriptions, idyllic depictions and idealized portrayals of the traditional folk culture are often encountered. From the early 20th century onwards, the depictions of traditional folk culture elements are manifested in literary texts in a realistic way.

The course aims at:

  • The presentation of the forms and the image that traditional folk culture acquires within literary texts.
  • The utilization of folk culture by writers.
  • The commentaries and the critique on the way the litterateur detects, approaches, elaborates and assimilates elements of folk culture and its symbolism; to what extent these form creative cores of his art.
  • Looking into the ways in which the remote and recent past are interpreted through the creators’ “artistic expression”.
  • Underscoring the need for the anthropological dimension in the study of neo-Hellenic literary work.

In the spirit of this course, elements of folk culture found in literary texts, mostly of the 20th century (Seferis, Elytis, M.Ganas and  other modern poets), are indicatively approached, commented upon and analyzed. Emphasis is laid on the elements of folk tradition found in the poetic work of Nikos Gatsos.

Papers – research program: optional participation. Seminars in Folklore Study during the entire academic year on the appropriate way of collecting primary folklore material.

ΦΛ03 Comparative Folklore 

α) Comparative folklore: theories and methods.  Cultural exchanges in Europe. Historic conditions of the creation of common and different elements in the folk cultures of the Balkan peoples and the Mediterranean. Cultural transmission in contemporary Greece in relation with the local societies which create and transmit culture.

ΦΛ04 Folklore and Society

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the study and analysis of various aspects of the organization of Greek society and of its folk culture.  To achieve this goal, theories, topics and examples from Greek urban and rural society and from the Greek diaspora are presented and discussed.  The course deals with Greek folk and popular culture with its continuities and discontinuities in a holistic, multi-sited and comparative manner.

More specifically, the course focuses on the material, social and symbolic dimensions of family and home, kinship, neighbourhood, city life and cultural associations, and of the various social classes.  It also examines customs and rituals of the life and yearly cycles, with regard to the values, practices and symbols they contain, and to their transformations in the course of time.

Students are evaluated on the basis of a final written examination.  An additional bonus of up to three marks can be gained through submission of a research essay or project (optional).


This course covers the following theoretical and thematic topics and its aim is to provide a more advanced study of Folkloristics:  1.  Brief introduction to the study of Folkloristics.  2.  Historical periods in Folkloristics. 3.  Specializations in Folkloristics:  Theoretical – Linguistic – Study of Customs – Social – Musical – Ethnographic – Museological – Fake or para-scholarly Folklore  – Philosophical, etc.  4.  Modern Folkloristics: Terminology – Folklorica Contemporanea – Contemporary Folklore – Urban Folklore – New Folklore.  Contemporary Greek folk culture.  5.  The term “Modern Folklore/Folkloristics”:  A.  Theoretical views and counter-views.  B.  International terminology.  Topics.  C.  Terminology in Greece.  Topics.  D.  Topics in Modern Folkloristics.  E.  Modern Folkloristics in printed and electronic form.  6.  Bibliography.

Students are evaluated on the basis of a final written examination.  They are given the option of submitting projects centered around the collection of primary fieldwork material and/or bibliographical research, gaining marks according to the value of the work submitted (optional). 

Semester 8

ΦΛ06 The Folktale: from traditional storytelling to the cultural industry

 Folkloristic theories in the study of the folktale. Folktale genres, typology and social contexts of creation and transmission.  A social history of the folktale in Greece. The historical evolution of the folktale towards children’s literature (19th – 20th centuries) and cinema (1936-today).