The following is a comprehensive list of Folklore theses written by UL Lafayette M.A. students. The abstracts are organized chronologically, and include the author's name, date of graduation, title of thesis, and committee members.
J. Gary Elliott, 1992: The Partnership of Amédé
Ardoin and Dennis McGee: Folk Music and Cultural Determination in Southwestern
This thesis deals with folk music as an expression of culture. It centers around a case study of the relationship between two individuals -- Amédé Ardoin, a black Creole accordion player, and Dennis McGee, a white Cajun fiddler. These two pursued a friendship and a musical partnership in the 1920's and 30's, and created a lasting legacy in both Cajun and Creole culture. Their recordings not only helped to bring the Cajun and Creole cultures some national attention but brought the cultures under the scrutiny of their own constituents. As an ancient tradition was redefined and generated a new musical form, it in turn reflected back upon the cultures that had produced it. The recordings offered a new source of cultural identity, or at least a more conscious form of an old source.
It is ironic that as the culture was being characterized by the music, it was also being challenged. The musical sense of purpose that brought Ardoin and McGee together is mirrored by their resolve to challenge the strict segregationist codes of their time. Both men crossed cultural and racial boundaries for the sake of their art. With them, the endeavors of challenging musical/artistic boundaries and cultural/racial boundaries were tied together in the same event. In the process, both endeavors become illuminated.
This thesis maintains that cultural expression, as an active principle, is inexorably tied up within performance dynamics, depending largely upon an active involvement between the artist and the audience. It concludes with an application of oral-formulaic theory to an exploration of the improvisational qualities of Ardoin and McGee's music, and demonstrates how the musical choices involved in improvisation can mirror the social choices of cultural self-determination.
Jennifer Welch, 1992: Revisioning Traditional Magic Tales: Another
Look at Cinderella, Bluebeard, and Sinbad.
This thesis discusses traditional magic tales and the possibilities that revising these tales offers us. Tales such as "Cinderella," "Bluebeard," and "The Voyages of Sinbad" have made an indelible impression on the popular imagination. Perhaps because of their numinosity, magic tales hold a special place in the human imagination. Some analysts suggest their power lies in their psychological truths, either revealing development into maturity or archetypal significance. Other scholars emphasize their socializing authority. Both approaches indicate magic tales as particularly important modes of human expression.
Magic tales provide a perfect opportunity for literary artists to use familiar- narratives as raw material and to shape them into stories which either challenge or transform the cultural truths the tales reflect. Many women have assimilated certain themes of the Märchen but have been dissatisfied with their representation of feminine roles. Although transforming the tales may not provide solid alternatives, exploration is an essential step toward reshaping society's traditions. In this study selected narratives from Charles Perrault and the Grimm Brothers will be examined alongside contemporary revisions by Tanith Lee and Angela Carter with a focus on the treatment of the female heroine.
In addition to the Western Märchen, the tales from The Thousand and One Nights have also created a substantial impact upon collective thought and thereby can serve as fruitful material for reflexive revision. Because these traditional magic tales are also familiar to a Western audience, artists can effectively initiate inquiry into our belief systems by highlighting certain discrepancies or imbalance in their revisions.
Gender balance is not the only motivating force for revising magic tales. Other issues that contemporary writers address include how we create our traditions,. how we decide who are the heroes and villains, and how to balance the tension between truth and fiction.
Pamela A. Breaux, 1995:
The Folklore of Cane River and the Creoles of Color Who Live There.
This study concerns the folklore and traditional culture of the Creoles of color of Cane River, who live in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The Cane River community, located approximately eighteen miles south of the city of Natchitoches, is a small rural locale where cotton is the chief industry.
This community is both Creole and Catholic, and these aspects of the culture can be found woven into the folklore and traditional beliefs of the community. Specifically, this study aims to present and interpret some of the most significant aspects of the traditional culture of Cane River's Creoles of color. The study looks at: history and ethnicity in oral tradition, celebrations that are most important to the community, graveyard and burial traditions, and literature which attempts to portray the traditional culture of the group.
Much of the information in this study was gathered by tape recorded interviews with Cane River community members. Informants' ages ranged from twenty-five years old to one hundred-and-two years old. The author additionally attended many community functions as a participant-observer.
This study shows that the people of Cane River, Louisiana have a distinct body of folklore that is valuable to Louisiana folklore scholarship and creative writers. In addition, group ethnicity and identity are reflected throughout that body of folklore, and that folklore is important and worthy of preservation and further study.
James Edward Gilbert, 1999: "Time Out of Time Out of Time":
Festival, Plague, Xenophobia, and the Anti-Alien Riot of "Evil
May Day" in 1517 London.
In London on the night of April 30, 1517 more than two thousand apprentices and other individuals, largely inspired by a speech given a few days earlier, exploded into a riot against foreigners living in the city. This later became known as "Evil May Day," because of its connection with the annual celebration of the popular summer festival. The purpose of this work is to understand exactly what factors led to this action, especially considering that the existence of a festival led to a deviation from the normal perception of the world. This thesis contends with the issues of the late medieval/early modern world view, festival theory, the sociological effects of plague, and the political and socioeconomic conditions of the time. When all of the various factors are considered, a unique historical moment emerges, one for which all of the various components were necessary. The actual riot itself may have begun spontaneously, and it may be of scant historiographical significance, but it is in many ways a signpost for the historical circumstances, as well as for issues that require further scholarly consideration.
Lana Henry, 1999: Cemetery Homecomings in East Texas: The Creation
and Recreation of Community and Identity Through Ritual Remembrance
and Oral Tradition.
This thesis is an ethnographic study of three variations of a cemetery ritual known in East Texas as a "cemetery homecoming." The impact upon tradition of individual personalities, group dynamics, and sociocultural changes is examined. This study contributes to scholarly understanding of memory and oral tradition as tools for creating and recreating community and identity through time, and for historical preservation.
This study builds upon and reinforces the work of Henry Glassie, Linwood Montell, and others in that it demonstrates the valuable contributions of individual memory and oral tradition to the historical record and to the preservation of tradition. One of its contributions is the dispelling of the impression created by prior scholarship that cemetery rituals for remembering the dead and maintaining their graves are all fairly generic observances of Memorial Day or Decoration Day. Another contribution is its illustration of the synchronic and diachronic flexibility of tradition.
The first three chapters are ethnographic descriptions of the three cemetery homecomings under consideration: Mt. Pisgah Cemetery Homecoming in Houston County, Durham Cemetery Homecoming in Angelina County, and Mt. Hope Cemetery Homecoming in Cherokee County.
Chapter four uses Barbara Allen's model of a "symbolic landscape with historical and social ... dimensions" and Patrick Mullen's theory that a "built landscape [may act as] the context for reminiscing and storytelling" to explain the relationship between physical setting, local history, and the recall of events in ritualized memory-sharing and conversation at the homecomings. It also examines the material culture of the three cemeteries for its reflection of the homecoming communities' senses of place.
Chapter five incorporates the work of psychologist Susan Engel, oral historian Tamara K. Hareven, and narratologist Roger Schank, as well as personal experience to illustrate the still largely unexplained, yet powerful relationship between story and memory.
Document last revised
March 1, 2004