The 5th Folklore Fellows’ Summer School organised at the two universities of Turku on August 8-23, 1999 may be characterised as an experiment in unprecedented transparency. Only about a fourth of the applicants to the FF Summer School can expect to be selected for the training course designed to reach the level of “higher studies” in folkloristics. Many of them are competent enough to perform as teachers, too. In fact, a few of the “students” on the latest course did just that. The spectrum of special topics offered through the four Workshops guaranteed that a student could work with colleagues interested in the same area of research. A common focus, be it “politics of textualisation”, “oral epics”, “fieldwork” or “ethics”, as in the 5th Summer School, is apt to generate a dynamic exchange of ideas and experiences. When there are two teachers for three students, the brain power available is considerable and provides a platform for screening research traditions in a global way. Such is the internationality of the course that the word “global” may be taken literally.

This time the organisers tackled two problems for which no good solution had been found before, namely, how to put the teachers and students on equal terms from the beginning and how to circulate the most important ideas and results to a wider community of folklorists. A project serving both ends was started by asking the 19 teachers to provide 1-2 articles on their lecture topics well in advance in order to let the students read them and be better prepared for discussion. 24 articles were printed and sent to the students several weeks before the course. The FFSS99 Preprints will be published soon in book form.

Besides the usual guest lectures there were two innovations: panels and workshop keynote papers. A panel consisted of short presentations of two Preprint papers and comments by 4-6 participants. The arrangement brought about more lively discussion instead of listening to a paper and the number of active speakers in the plenary sessions grew considerably. The group leaders gave workshop keynote papers in the early afternoon plenaries, thus opening up the problems dealt with in the workshops to all the participants. Group reports on Workshops 1-4  became quite extensive. We will publish them in FF Network 19.

Transparency and a broader and long-lasting impact characterise the 5th FF Summer School. It was a hard-working course. In view of the amount of learning offered during the day, the evening programme was kept light in order to encourage informal contacts. Surely, variation and thick corpus, textuality and reception, and dozens of other new terms penetrated our dreams. Now it is time to continue the tradition and start planning the 6th FF Summer School in 2001.

Lauri Honko

(FFN 18, November 1999: 1)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This