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2. Groups

Martha Sims Utah State University Press ePub

If folklore is a way of learning and a way of communicating, then there must be a group of people who need to communicate something to each other. Defining a folk group by how and what it communicates allows us to look at groups formed and maintained by informal means—those not constructed formally as groups by founders with particular rules and guidelines, but held together by the practices and expressions of their members. This is one of the tenets of folklore scholarship: that informal or unofficial shared knowledge is a defining feature of a folk group.

The concept of folk group has evolved radically over time. The early assumptions that folk groups were somehow different from the rest of us and were primarily rural, uneducated, or primitive yielded to the understanding that all of us share folklore every day. Folklorists established that we all belong to folk groups and that groups also exist in urban, contemporary settings (see, for instance, Dundes 1980). Today, digital technology provides extended opportunities for groups to form and communicate in new ways. A great deal of folklore research in recent years has focused on how online communities form and communicate and how they share traditions. This research has opened up new understanding of what groups are and what constitutes informal shared knowledge—folklore itself. Most importantly, the ability of people to come together online as groups and the complexity of online interactions demonstrate the dynamic process of sharing and creating folklore.

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8 On the Same Page

Bruce L. Smith Utah State University Press ePub

I eagerly delivered reports—annual progress reports, habitat inventory summaries, status reports of big game species—to the Tribal Fish and Game Committee and Joint Business Council. Certain council members would thumb the pages and glance curiously at me as if to say, “I am not impressed by how much time you spend at a typewriter.”

Most of these documents were skimmed at best. I knew that. But I regarded chronicling our findings an essential contribution for succeeding biologists, tribal leaders, and the Shoshone and Arapaho people. This permanent record was the benchmark by which future efforts to restore WRIR’s natural treasures would be gauged.

I liked that my position provided access to tribal decision-makers. It is not that it conferred a sense of self-importance; rather it made my work feel relevant. Being at the Joint Business Council’s beck and call and able to schedule a time slot to present some pressing matter of my work to this governing body was gratifying and often hastened decision making.

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Appendix B: Samples of Tim’s Essays

Anne Beaufort Utah State University Press ePub

Here are two essays Tim wrote in his freshman year of college: one, a textual analysis of an article by an ethicist, written for Freshman Writing, and the other, a historical essay interpreting events and texts for a western civilization course, also Tim’s first year at the university.


The last decade’s discoveries in genetic science have opened discussions at the dinner table, laboratory, and Congress on questions that ten years ago existed solely on the pages of science fiction. Their relevance is now real, casting confusion over the decisions of birth, illness, treatment, and death. Is it morally justified, many ask, to read a fetus’ genetic code, allowing the parents to abort a handicapped child? Is it right to consider altering the DNA, the very map of life? Isn’t the integrity of life threatened by manipulating genetic traits?

Answers given to questions of right and wrong in genetic therapy range widely. Many fear that people who altered the genetic makeup of individuals would be “playing God.” Other invoke the experience of the Nazi era in Germany and oppose any development of gene-altering processes, concerned that it will lead to similar atrocities. Still others suggest that any new technology that is useful should be put into practice.

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Chapter 6 : Folk Narratives

Elliott Oring Utah State University Press ePub

Elliott Dring

“Narrative” is another word for story. Narrating is a method by which an experience is transformed into a verbal account. Experience is recapitulated by matching a verbal sequence of statements to some sequence of events which is purported to have occurred. For example:

(1) At first he refused the drink that she offered.

(2) She persisted in her demand that he at least taste it.

(3) He finally consented and drained the glass.

(4) Suddenly, he felt a searing pain in his stomach.

(5) He knew that he had been poisoned.

There are, indeed, other ways of communicating this same information which do not depend upon a representation of the temporal sequence of events. For example, “He knew that he had been poisoned when he felt the searing pain in his stomach from draining the drink that she insisted that he taste, but which he had first refused.” Although this second formulation is perfectly logical and communicative, we will not consider it a narrative because it does not represent experience in the order in which the events took place. Maintaining the order of events in the verbal recapitulation is basic to our definition of narrative. This distinguishes a narrative from other kinds of event reporting.1

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Coffee Talk: A Chat with Terry Tempest Williams Aria Seligmann, Eugene Weekly, 2003

Michael Austin Utah State University Press ePub

Environmental writer and poet Terry Tempest Williams sat at a table at the Excelsior Inn about 8 o’clock on a Friday morning a couple of weks ago. In town to lecture and lead some writing workshops at the UO, she squeezed me into her busy schedule. Too early for me, I’d arrived at the restaurant several minutes prior just to get enough coffee down my gullet to be able to ask some questions. Williams, on the other hand, was already put together and naturally beautiful at that early hour, her unique combination of wisdom and grace readily apparent.

A lifetime resident of Utah, environmental writer and poet Terry Tempest Williams writes from her own experiences as a Mormon woman living in that state. She has authored six books, as well as An Unspoken Hunger, a collection of essays, and two children’s books.

Her work has been anthologized widely and reproduced in The New Yorker, The Nation, Outside, Audubon and Orion and she’s best known for Refuge, a book that tells the parallel tales of the degradation of the environment and her mother’s battle with cancer.

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