MCR602 Folk and Popular Culture Topics
Approaches to play, games, toys and folk tales
Professor: Cleo GOUGOULIS
The course focuses on play and folk tales as traditional forms of recreation which have been increasingly identified with children’s culture and childhood. Divided in two parts, the first part of the course focuses on play, games and toys and the second part examines folk tales. Each part is covered by six lectures.
Part One: The first six lectures will focus on the analysis of anthropological, psychological, folklorist, educational and historical approaches to play from the 19th century to the present. Drawing on research examples analyzing traditional games and toys as well as digital games in Greece and other countries the discussion will particularly focus on questions such as the relationship between play and cognitive development, and the socializing aspects of play, with special emphasis on the production, reproduction and negotiation of gender hierarchies and relations of power. Furthermore the controversies raised from the globalization of toys and recent economic and technological developments in the toy and digital play market will be examined.
Part Two will focus on interdisciplinary approaches to folk tales from the 19th century to the present. Particular research questions such as definitions and classifications of folk tales will be discussed in the context of evolutionary and diffusionist theoretical frameworks. Questions regarding the form, structure, context, content, the ideological and social function of folk tales will be further discussed in the context of recent theories developed by folklore, anthropology psychoanalysis linguistics, literary criticism and cultural studies.
The aim of the course is to help students understand the importance of studying play and folk tales as forms of popular recreation and children’s culture and to familiarize students with theoretical approaches and research questions regarding play and folk tales.
The course comprises laboratory work and tutorials on participant observation research methods and techniques such as interviews and documentation of play and folk tales.