Encyclopedia of American Folklifeby Simon J Bronner
American folklife is steeped in world cultures, or invented as new culture, always evolving, yet often practiced as it was created many years or even centuries ago. This fascinating encyclopedia explores the rich and varied cultural traditions of folklife in America - from barn raisings to the Internet, tattoos, and Zydeco - through expressions that include ritual,… See more details below
American folklife is steeped in world cultures, or invented as new culture, always evolving, yet often practiced as it was created many years or even centuries ago. This fascinating encyclopedia explores the rich and varied cultural traditions of folklife in America - from barn raisings to the Internet, tattoos, and Zydeco - through expressions that include ritual, custom, crafts, architecture, food, clothing, and art. Featuring more than 350 A-Z entries, "Encyclopedia of American Folklife" is wide-ranging and inclusive. Entries cover major cities and urban centers; new and established immigrant groups as well as native Americans; American territories, such as Guam and Samoa; major issues, such as education and intellectual property; and expressions of material culture, such as homes, dress, food, and crafts. This encyclopedia covers notable folklife areas as well as general regional categories. It addresses religious groups (reflecting diversity within groups such as the Amish and the Jews), age groups (both old age and youth gangs), and contemporary folk groups (skateboarders and psychobillies) - placing all of them in the vivid tapestry of folklife in America. In addition, this resource offers useful insights on folklife concepts through entries such as "community and group" and "tradition and culture." The set also features complete indexes in each volume, as well as a bibliography for further research.
The central theme of this overview is that "Americans participate simultaneously in many forms of folklife at the national and local levels." The editor provides two definitions of folklife-the social: "tradition-centered communities, locations, or groups" and the cultural: "the skills, symbols, identities, and customs that characterize such groups." The set's more than 350 alphabetically arranged entries defy easy classification, but include surveys of the unique cultures and traditions of urban areas, geographic regions, and a wide variety of ethnic groups; topics are as widely diverse as the Amish, Wiccans, bluegrass music, and punk. Other entries cover methods of self-expression such as music, art, crafts, and hobbies; holiday traditions; religious beliefs and traditions; and topics such as quilting and oral folk history. Average-quality photos add little to the text. The entries are well written and objective, but reading levels are quite high. Each article has good cross-referencing and a bibliography, and the final volume boasts a 78-page general bibliography. All volumes contain general, cultural-group, and geographical indexes for the entire set. This encyclopedia captures much of what is unique, diverse, and occasionally quirky about American culture. It provides a wealth of information that is not easily found in other sources.
Mary MuellerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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