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PART III: Writing the Paper

The final semester paper is an interpretive document based on our fieldwork. Although the organization of your particular paper depends on what you documented, most papers will consist of the following parts:


Consists of introductory remarks about folklore and your topic specifically. Ideally is a single paragraph. Your thesis statement should somehow answer the following questions: "What is the function (or functions) of the folklore I have documented for this particular group?" Your thesis statement should be the last sentence of the introduction. Please underline your thesis statement.

Introduction to Folk Group and Folklore:

General information about your folk group: for example, who they are, what they do, how you know them, how long you have known them. Why are they a folk group? Are you a member of this group? Also contains description of what you documented--what kinds of genres or what kinds of event? Why did you choose this? How or Why is this folklore? How did you document? What was your approach? When did you do it Who was involved? What was their reaction? Did any problems arise? How did these difficulties affect your project? What was going on at the time you documented? Note: These are only sample questions, please don't try to answer all of them.

Fieldwork Data: Text and Context:

This section presents your folklore fieldwork. It will consist mainly of part of your transcription(s), along with commentary and information unavailable from the transcripts. You may organize this section any way you like. One option is to first present your folklore text(s) and then describe the context you have chosen to focus on. A second option is to present the text and context as a whole. In either case, there will be important contextual information that is not on your tape. Therefore, you will need to supplement your transcripts with this information. Remember that you must focus on one of the following kinds of context: social, cultural, individual, or comparative.

Analysis: (approximately 2-3 pages):

Your analysis should be a detailed examination of the interrelationship between text and context as documented in the previous section of your paper. Analysis entails breaking things apart and putting them back together to get new information. What does one say about the other? How do they relate? What do you learn about the function of this folklore from examining it? This section should be detailed and refer to teh specifics of your fieldwork. It will demonstrate to the reader the function(s) of folklore in your particular fieldwork setting and show how you arrived at your thesis statement.


The conclusion should summarize what you have done and what your conclusions are. A sophisticated conclusion also discusses questions that have arisen directly as the result of your work. In other words, if you were going to do a larger project on this same topic, what questions do you have or think might be interesting to address? Why did they come up?


You will most likely have some kind appendix to your paper, in the form of transcriptions, photographs, or other fieldwork materials. This material goes at the end of your paper.


In ethnographic fieldwork projects, it is acceptable to use "I" when writing your paper. It is, however, never acceptable to use "you."