Folklore and The Folkloresque

Woodcarving from the interior of The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring Gould

One of the my key research areas focuses is folklore, both as a subject, as well as a scientific discipline. First coined in 1846 by William Thoms as “The Lore of the People” [1] , the term ‘Folk-Lore’ gained some degree of popularity in the mid-to late 19th century as a developing subject of study as well as an item of popular interest. In the United Kingdom, the end of the century saw the forming of the Folklore Society (FLS) in 1878 [2] , as well as a variety of print publications that were fascinated with the subject, culminating in the second International Folk-Lore Congress being held in London in 1891. [3]

Yet, since the subject’s “heyday” in the late 19th Century, Folklore studies has somewhat struggled to sustain its academic position in the United Kingdom, despite a wealth of brilliant critical work being undertaken by many notable academics and researchers within the field. My work seeks to contribute to Folklore’s continued academic development, helping to further develop folklore as an academic discipline, whilst also attempting to further nurture and invite a variety of interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches into the field.

As a cultural historian, my research focuses not only on the scientific development and mainstream popularity of folklore in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Alongside this, my work also focuses on the concept of the ‘Folkloresque’, a term coined by Michael Dylan Foster and Jeffrey A. Tolbert in their 2017 book The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture world, which focuses on how and why certain motifs, narratives, characters, traditions and ideas are deployed within popular culture texts to resemble or appropriate folklore [4]. My study particularly assesses how the Folkloresque is used within many of the famous late 19th Century Werewolf Fictions and how such items from traditional folklore and mythology are ‘remixed’ or ‘re-imagined’ within such texts, alongside the potential effects and impact of such a deployment.

As part of my research, I have spoken at several events, most notably The Folk Horror Conference 2019 at Falmouth University and at the London 19th Century Studies Graduate Seminar in 2020 at Queen Mary University in London.

If you have any questions about my research, or would just simply like to add me to your research network, please feel free to get in touch!

[1] Merton, Ambrose [pseud. William J. Thoms]. “Folk-Lore.” The Athenæum, No. 982 (22 August 1846): 862c–63a.

[2] ‘About the Folklore Society’, The Folklore Society <> [accessed 30 May 2020]

[3] Richard M. Dorson, The British Folklorists: A History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp.298-315

[4] Michael Dylan Foster, ‘Introduction: The Challenge of the Folkloresque’ in The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World, ed. by Michael Dylan Foster and Jeffrey A. Tolbert (Boulder, University of Colorado Press: 2016), pp. 3-33 (p. 5-6).

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