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Public Practice Concentration in Folklore and Ethnomusicology

The Department offers a Public Practice Concentration in Folklore and Ethnomusicology focused on public and applied areas of our work. Public folklorists and applied ethnomusicologists draw upon their disciplinary training and knowledge to help communities address cultural concerns and social problems. Often working as respectful collaborators, these scholars have forged inroads into a variety of public spheres, including the arts, historic preservation, musuems, archives, law, public health, medicine, social work, gerontology, music production, documentary arts, heritage tourism, cultural policy, conflict resolution, labor rights, and other related fields.

Any MA or PhD level graduate student in the Department, and PhD minors from other departments, are eligible to pursue this concentration.

The concentration will consist of 4 classes for a total of 12 credits. Requirements are:

List of approved public practice electives:

F533 Applied Folklore
E533 Applied Ethnomusicology
F510 Multimedia in Ethnomusicology
F727 Activism, Engagement, & Critical Ethnography
F730 Museums & Material Culture
F731 Curatorship
F755 Tourism, Authenticity & Nostalgia
F804 Heritage and Cultural Property

An in-house faculty committee consisting of professors from ethnomusicology and folklore, working with the Student Services Assistant, will oversee all aspects of the concentration and advise students on courses, signing off on the practicum and electives that are to fulfill this requirement. Students should seek the advice and signature of a member of the in-house committee during the period of advising, prior to signing up for classes. A sheet for the required classes, with the appropriate signatures, will be created and maintained in the student’s file.

Upon successful completion of this program of courses, a member of the committee will add a letter to the student's permanent file indicating successful completion of the concentration. This letter will describe the concentration's scope and purpose and a copy of this letter will be provided to the student for inclusion in portfolios, internship and job application packets, and for similar purposes.

For more information, download this handout.

Course descriptions of public practice elective courses:

F533 Applied Folklore: Prepares students to work as mediators between vernacular and institutional discourses and agendas; apply folkloristic skills to social problems solving; trace the history of applied folklore; provide training in cultural mediation, rapid ethnography, needs analysis, other applied skills; survey work of folklorists in important applied areas including law, medicine, education.

E533 Applied Ethnomusicology: Investigates histories and trajectories of applied ethnomusicology, while preparing students to conceptualize and develop their own work in the subfield. Will map definitions of applied, advocacy, activist, engaged, and public sector work and trace connections to other disciplines. Discussions focus on research approaches, tools, and methodologies within applied ethnomusicology circles.

F510 Multimedia in Ethnomusicology: Explores the use of multimedia technology in five basic areas of ethnographic activity: field research, laboratory research (transcription and analysis), preservation, presentation, and publication. Knowledge of technological concepts and skill development in the use of various technologies are pursued through a project-based approach, which emphasizes learning by doing.

F727 Activism, Engagement, & Critical Ethnography: An in-depth investigation into the field of critical ethnography. Explores the theoretical, methodological, and applied aspects of qualitative research, seeking a better understanding of how ethnographic approaches may be mobilized for policy change, the creation of emancipatory knowledge, and the pursuit of social justice.

F730 Museums & Material Culture: This class analyzes the complex relationship between human beings and the material world they inhabit and create to better comprehend the institution of the museum. An understanding of material culture helps us view how makers, users, and viewers relate to objects in homes, commercial establishments and eventually, in museums.

F755 Tourism, Authenticity & Nostalgia: Considers critical discourses surrounding intertwined notions of tourism, authenticity, and nostalgia. Explores tourism from cultural, symbolic, and social perspectives, paying particular attention to the tourist gaze and the relationship of the visitor to the people/culture being visited. Examines notions of authenticity and the way such notions are commodified and configured.

F731 Curatorship: The course presents basic skills for research and professional practice in social science and humanities museums. In addition to curatorial skills, the course explores how theoretical, ethical, and methodological problems are addressed in day-to-day museum work. Taught in campus museums, the course includes hands-on activities, seminar discussion, and collections research.

F804 Heritage and Cultural Property: Examines some of the central debates regarding the various uses and strategic deployments of the concept of heritage and how these intersect with the progressive neoliberal reconceptualization of culture as a collection of goods, skills and services that must be properly managed if one is to capitalize on its economic potential.

Descriptions of required courses:

F532 Public Practice in Folklore and Ethnomusicology: Explores the breadth of professional practice in Folklore and Ethnomusicology outside of college and university settings. Emphasis is placed on the development of conceptual knowl­edge central to publicly engaged scholarship irrespective of the particular contexts in which scholars might be employed.

F802 Traditional Arts Indiana (TAI): Designed as a practicum for students to work collaboratively in applying the methods and approaches of folklore studies to public needs and public programs. Students will engage in a variety of outreach projects linking the university to the larger community in the areas of public arts and culture and cultural documentation.

F803 Practicum in Folklore/Ethnomusicology: Individualized, supervised work in publicly oriented programs in folklore or ethnomusicology, such as public arts agencies, museums, historical commissions, and archives. Relevant readings and written report required.

F805 Laboratory in Public Folklore: Covers the research, design, creation, presentation, and assessment of public folklore projects. The learning laboratory provides students with experience in the public sector and critical perspectives on the theories, methods, and models employed in this field. The course includes weekly meetings to review readings and resources and discuss project progress.

F806 Museum Practicum in Folklore: Folklore-oriented practicum at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures or another museum. Relevant readings, participation, and a capstone event are required. For detailed information on practicum, see the Museum Practicum Guide available for the Mathers Museum of World Cultures website at