Folklore, Oral Tradition and Culture Studies |

The University of Missouri-Columbia |

Folklore at MU
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What does Freud’s theory of the Fetish have to do with the study of proverbs in Appalachia? How does reading Todorov help us read Toelken? How does mimicry apply to Mormons? Entering graduate studies in the Folklore, Oral Tradition and Culture Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia will help you explore answers to these and many other questions. Advantageously situated within the Department of English with an emphasis on theoretical and writing strategies, the study of folklore at MU offers a unique opportunity for a truly interdisciplinary experience.

MFS Conference
MFS conference, Columbia, 2006

Along with the opportunity to do really engaging and interesting work connecting folklore, oral tradition, and culture studies, one of the reasons our graduates have had such high placement on the job market is because of the program’s emphasis on critical theory. Students gain exposure to and learn to use a wide range of theoretical tools, including post colonialism, oral formulaic theory, race and gender theories, Marxism, queer theory, fetish theory, feminist theory, and performance theory. With associated and affiliated faculty in Religious Studies, Sociology, Classical Studies, Anthropology, Women and Gender Studies, Theater, Art History, African Diaspora Studies, and Romance Languages, just to name a few, and the range of theoretical approaches students can explore increases even more. Folklore itself doesn’t exist in a vacuum: at MU, we believe the study of folklore shouldn’t either.

MFS Registration table
MFS registration desk

Want something more? The English Department at MU prides itself on the teaching opportunities it affords graduate students. Not only do students in folklore have the opportunity to teach English 1700, Intro to Folklore Genres and English 2700, Intro to Folklore Fieldwork, we also get to design courses in composition, writing, and literature around our own knowledge and interests. And teaching is not all we do. Students also have the opportunity to work as interns (for credit hours) and Graduate Research Assistants (paid) in such diverse programs as the Missouri Folk Arts Program, directed by Lisa Higgins, the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition, and the Center for eResearch.


Within the English Department at the University of Missouri, students can earn an emphasis area in folklore studies at every level — Undergraduate, Masters, and Ph.D. Although the degree from MU is a degree in English, the transcript can specifically note the emphasis in Folklore Studies. We’re proud to say that graduates of our program with an MA and/or Ph.D. have been very competitive in the job market. One of the real advantages of our program is that our students graduate with a very well-rounded education that allows them to select several key areas of study that prepare them to teach in rhetoric and composition, postcolonial theory, folklore, Africana literature, Creative Writing (including Creative Nonfiction), and general literature (including American and British literature). We have an outstanding Folklore/OT faculty and many affiliated faculty from across the campus.

Folklore activity

Students in the English Department at the University of Missouri are able to create dynamic programs that combine their interests in folklore and oral tradition, ethnographic writing, narrative studies, multiculturalism, and field studies with literature, theory, rhetoric and composition, and creative writing at all levels: undergraduate, Masters and PhD. A Masters degree requires 30 hrs. of study; a PhD requires 72 total hours past the BA. Approximately 30-32 of these are toward the MA and others are called "research hours" for work on the dissertation toward the end of the Ph.D. Program, designed to eventually add up to 72 hours.

Students at the MA and Ph.D. levels select all the members of their advisoryboard and write a folklore/oral tradition thesis or dissertation. The MA exams cover both literature and folklore; most Ph.D. exams are specifically in folklore and folklore-related areas.Sandy

For more information about our program email:

Dr. Anand Prahlad:
Dr. Elaine Lawless:
Dr. LuAnne Roth:

For admissions information go to

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