Folklore

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Folklore Program at the University of California, Berkeley trains intellectual leaders in folkloristics for the twenty-first century. We seek to provide a deep, critical, and theoretically-informed reading of folklore scholarship from the seventeenth century through the present. We urge students to develop a particular field of expertise in folkloristics. At the same time, we advise our graduate students to develop strong grounding in another discipline or multidisciplinary perspective, such as race and ethnic studies, performance studies, science studies, rhetoric, narrative theory, ethnomusicology, materiality, women's and queer theory, and others, in order to bring new perspectives to their work in folkloristics.

The Designated Emphasis in Folklore permits students to specialize in folklore while pursuing a PhD in a UC Berkeley department or program. 

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Admissions

Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

Our students possess a broad range of humanities and social science backgrounds as well as from the natural sciences and other fields. Previous coursework in folkloristics is not required. All that is needed is a strong undergraduate record and the desire to excel.

The Folklore Program requires GRE scores, one to two copies of your official transcript, a statement of purpose, a personal statement, and a critical writing sample.

Master's Degree Requirements

Unit Requirements

The requirements for the MA in Folklore include 20 units, of which at least 10 must be graduate-level (200 number) in Folklore.

Curriculum

ANTHRO 160ACForms of Folklore4
FOLKLOR C262ATheories of Traditionality and Modernity4
FOLKLOR C262BTheories of Traditionality and Modernity4
One graduate elective, in fieldwork methodology
At least one course in two of the following three areas:
Folk narrative
Folk or ethnic music
Folk or primitive art
Electives, per approved study list

Foreign Language

The student must demonstrate proficiency in reading at least one foreign language by the time he or she advances to candidacy. The language is selected in consultation with the chair or graduate adviser; in most cases, it is the language most closely connected with the MA thesis. The language requirement is ordinarily satisfied by an examination in which the student translates a passage from an academic text in their language of choice into English.

Capstone/Thesis (Plan I)

MA thesis based upon field work or some other research project. (No course credits are allowed for the thesis). Theses are directed by a Thesis Committee consisting of at least three faculty members, one of whom does not belong to the Folklore Graduate Group. The committee chair and inside member must be members of the Graduate Group; a co-chair from another department or program may be named when appropriate.

Designated Emphasis Requirements

The Designated Emphasis in Folklore permits students to specialize in folklore while pursuing a PhD in a UC Berkeley department or program. The DE seeks to train future leaders in the field of folklore by assisting students in developing their own critical, theoretically-informed reading of folklore scholarship from the seventeenth century through the present, developing sophisticated analyses of traditional cultural forms and how they are imbricated in producing modernities, and juxtaposing folkloristic approaches with perspectives emerging from their home disciplines in shaping interdisciplinary exchanges of ideas and development of rigorous research that challenges epistemological boundaries.
Upon successful completion of the dissertation, the student's diploma and transcript will include the designation: "PhD in [major] with a Designated Emphasis in Folklore."

Requirements for Admissions

To be admitted to the program, applicants must already be accepted into an existing PhD program at Berkeley (Master's students and students at other institutions are not eligible). Graduate students are strongly urged to apply early in their third semester, but applications will be considered at any time prior to completion of the qualifying examinations.

Curricular Requirements

FOLKLOR C262A and FOLKLOR C262B, and Anthropology 160, Forms of Folklore (unless the applicant has taken an equivalent introduction to the discipline). It is strongly recommended that students take at least one course in their home department that focuses on research techniques.

Examination and Dissertation Requirements

The student's qualifying examination committee and dissertation committee must have one member of the DE faculty.

UCB doctoral students who wish to apply to the Designated Emphasis in Folklore Program are welcome to contact the Chair and/or Graduate Adviser. Applications and details regarding admissions process are available from the Folklore Graduate Student Affairs Officer (ned@berkeley.edu and 510-642-3406).

Courses

Folklore

FOLKLOR C261 Theories of Narrative 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2012, Spring 2011, Summer 2006 10 Week Session, Spring 2006
This course examines a broad range of theories that elucidate the formal, structural, and contextual properties of narratives in relation to gestures, the body, and emotion; imagination and fantasy; memory and the senses; space and time. It focuses on narratives at work, on the move, in action as they emerge from the matrix of the everyday preeminently, storytelling in conversation--as key to folk genres--the
folktale, the legend, the epic, the myth.
Theories of Narrative: Read More [+]

FOLKLOR C262A Theories of Traditionality and Modernity 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2016, Fall 2015, Fall 2014
This seminar explores the emergence of notions of tradition and modernity and their reproduction in Eurocentric epistemologies and political formations. It uses work by such authors as Anderson, Butler, Chakrabarty, Clifford, Derrida, Foucault, Latour, Mignolo, Pateman, and Poovey to critically reread foundational works published between the 17th century and the present--along with philosophical texts with which they are in dialogue--in terms of
how they are imbricated within and help produce traditionalities and modernities.
Theories of Traditionality and Modernity: Read More [+]

FOLKLOR C262B Theories of Traditionality and Modernity 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
This seminar explores the emergence of notions of tradition and modernity and their reproduction in Eurocentric epistemologies and political formations. It uses work by such authors as Anderson, Butler, Chakrabarty, Clifford, Derrida, Foucault, Latour, Mignolo, Pateman, and Poovey to critically reread foundational works published between the 17th century and the present--along with philosophical texts with which they are in dialogue--in terms
of how they are imbricated within and help produce traditionalities and modernities.
Theories of Traditionality and Modernity: Read More [+]

FOLKLOR 298 Readings in Folklore 3 - 6 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2016

Readings in Folklore: Read More [+]

FOLKLOR 299 Directed Research 3 - 6 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2016

Directed Research: Read More [+]

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Ronelle Alexander, Professor. Slavic languages & literatures, Balkan Slavic dialectology, Balkan linguistics, language contact, oral tradition, Parry-Lord theory of oral composition, South Slavic epic singers, issues of language and identity.
Research Profile

Stanley H. Brandes, Professor. Cultural anthropology, ritual and religion, food and drink, alcohol use, visual anthropology, Mediterranean Europe, Latin America, Spain, Mexico.
Research Profile

Charles L. Briggs, Professor. Linguistic and medical anthropology, social theory, modernity, citizenship and the state, race, and violence.

Benjamin Brinner, Professor. Indonesia, Java, Bali, Israel, musical memory, situated musical cognition, musical interaction, improvisation, gamelan, music and oral narrative.
Research Profile

Mia Fuller, Associate Professor. Anthropology, Italy, fascism, urban design, architecture, Italian colonialism.
Research Profile

Ronald Hendel, Professor. Textual criticism, Hebrew bible, ancient Near Eastern religion and mythology, Northwest Semitic linguistics.
Research Profile

Margaretta M. Lovell, Professor. Architecture, design, American art.
Research Profile

Tamara C. Roberts, Assistant Professor.

Candace Slater, Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Laurie Wilkie, Professor. Anthropology, historical archaeology, oral history, material culture and ethnic identity, family and gender relations; North America, Northern California, Caribbean. Bahamas, African consumerism, creolization, multi-ethnic community.
Research Profile

Visiting Faculty

Galit Hasan-Roken, Visiting Professor.

Diarmuid O'Giollain, Visiting Professor.

Emeritus Faculty

John Lindow, Professor Emeritus. Old Norse-Icelandic literature, Scandinavian folklore, Finno-Ugric folklore, Pre-Christian religion of the North, Scandinavian mythology.
Research Profile

Daniel Melia, Professor Emeritus. Rhetoric, oral literature, Celtic studies, Celtic languages (Welsh, Irish), folklore, medieval history and literature.

Contact Information

Folklore Program

232 Kroeber Hall

Visit Program Website

Program Chair

Charles Briggs, PhD

333 Kroeber Hall

Phone: 510-643-2012

clbriggs@berkeley.edu

Head Graduate Adviser

Laurie Wilkie, PhD

232 Kroeber Hall

Phone: 510-643-0677

lawilkie@berkeley.edu

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Ned Garrett

232 Kroeber Hall

Phone: 510-642-3406

ned@berkeley.edu

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