fact checking websites recommended H u m a n i t i e s
to document an example of the folk expression of belief currently (or recently) circulating among your friends, family, or social media connections and
- to offer an interpretation of this text based on
- o the teller/sharer, audience, and context and
Step One: Select and document your example of contemporary folk belief
You may do this by:
- o recalling a superstition, scary story, or statement of belief that someone
told you, and writing it down as fully as you can;
o selecting a rumor or conspiracy theory shared with you via social media and
copying or saving it;
o describing your participation in some kind of ostensive behavior (legend trip, fan
fiction, trip to Harry Potter world, etc.) that engages you in testing the reality of
the belief or participating in that world as if it were real.
Step Two: Document the context and folk qualities
Write down an explanation of the cultural, historical, and social context for this exampleof folk belief.
- o Social context: Who shared it, with whom, under what circumstances, by what means? From whom did they learn/hear/get it? (okay to speculate on last point)
o Culturalandhistoricalcontext:Whatdoweneedtoknowaboutthegroupand their beliefs and/or what else is going on in the world at the time in order to make sense of this example?
o Explain the evidence of transmission and variation that makes us comfortable calling this an example of folklore.
o Doyouthinkthepersonwhoshareditwithyoubelievedthestoryorclaim?Did they intend for you to believe it? How did they hope you would react?
Step Three: Identify the course readings and other sources in dialogue with which you will develop your analysis
You may choose any approach(es), but you will need to justify their relevance.
- o A good place to start is Lynne McNeill’s article, “My Friend Posted It . . .”—What makes this claim or story or activity believable? Why do people want to share it? What do they hope you will do in response?
Identify examples in at least two of the course readings that either
- o model the kind of analysis you think should apply to your example or
I should take, but I’m going to do the opposite)
Look up your example on one of the fact checking websites recommended by the
- Middlebury College Librarians.
o Be creative—if you don’t find it right away, try different ways of describing the
story or issue. If you definitely don’t find it, that’s another useful bit of data.
important element of your analysis, but you should take it into account.
Step Four: Write your paper
The elements you should be sure to cover/questions you should be sure to answer are: o Describe the example of folk belief. Include the story, text, description of
- activity, etc.
o Describe the social, cultural, and historical context and the evidence of
transmission and variation as outlined in step two.
o By what means or medium did this example come to you and why might that be
o What do fact checking sites say about this story or assertion or similar ones? o How is this example like and unlike other related stories, legends, etc.?
(significance of variation in particular context.)
o From what perspective or in relation to which readings are you analyzing this
example and why did you choose those?
o Given all of the above, what would you argue is the meaning or significance of this example of folk belief? How do other scholars who have written about folk belief help you to arrive at this conclusion, either because you are making a parallel or only slightly divergent argument or because you discovered an example that contradicts or is an exception to a pattern they have identified?