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PART II: Turning your Raw Fieldwork into Data


Now that you have done your fieldwork, the next step is to turn your data into a well-written, interesting and informative semester paper. This guideline is designed to help you do that. Your approach to your material, however, will greatly depend on what you decide to document. Therefore, the following are suggestions and are not set in stone. You must decide how to best make these guidelines fit your specific project.

Step 1:

You should have in your hands one 60 minute cassette or videotape. Listen to your tape/review your videotape. You will probably need to do this more than once. Take notes as you review, jotting down the most interesting parts. Where do people get really excited? Where do they start to perform? Can you identify any specific folklore genres? If not, where do people start getting creative or artistic? Note where these performances occur on your tape.

Step 2:

Once you have decided which parts of your tape you are going to focus on, you will need to transcribe the folklore text. "Transcription" means writing down people's words exactly as they were spoken. Additionally, you may want to transcribe what people say before and after the folklore performance as a way to examine social context. Note: Transcription is very time-consuming. All transcriptions should be done at least one week before you begin to write your paper.

Step 3:

Your paper should examine one or two of the four different kinds of context discussed this semester as they relate to your folklore event. Examining these different contexts will help you answer the question: "What is the function (often there is more than one) of the folklore you document?" Your thesis statement will be your answer to this question. Underline your thesis statement in your paper. Your answer should be based on an analysis of the relationship between your folklore text and the context(s) that seem most applicable. A second way to discover your answer is to ask yourself, "What is this person/group trying to communicate?"