questions with existing archival-find-ing aids.
As folklore collections are increasingly digitized, and as Web-based social media sites become established
loci for the circulation of traditional
expressive forms, earlier methods of
folklore scholarship have begun to
falter for several reasons: First, it is
increasingly difficult to determine the
boundaries of a study corpus, not only
because existing “finding aids” that
rely on hand-indexing have not kept up
with the growth of digital resources but
also because modern research questions no longer align with the original ideas underpinning the early aids.
Second, the size and scope of folklore
corpora have increased so dramatically
it is impossible to apply close-reading
methods to even a fraction of the items
in a study corpus.
Due to this dramatic change in the
scholarly landscape, where issues of
access no longer pose absolute limits
on the scope of a study, scholarship
in folklore, as in the humanities as a
whole, must adapt to a new environment where many thousands, if not
millions, of texts are readily available.
illustrations by J.F. Podevin
At the same time, canonical approaches to corpus selection that guaranteed high precision but also resulted
in low recall are more difficult to defend intellectually. Whereas a scholar
could, until recently, reasonably propose a study focused exclusively on,
say, the several hundred folksongs
indexed in the Child collection of the
8 the availability of many more related texts from the
same time period or the same cultural
area necessitates that the scholar acknowledge this greatly expanded domain. This fundamental change in the
accessibility and size of target domains
is a welcome development but also requires that folklorists augment existing methodologies to take advantage
of the change in scope.
Along with increased accessibility of
machine-readable primary-source materials in the form of digitized archives
(such as The Danish Folklore Archive),