Folk Studies Program
What is folklore?
The study of folklore and folklife involves the examination and analysis of traditional expressive culture in all its forms, including verbal, musical, material, and customary. In every society and community, agricultural and industrial, rural and urban, folklore is a vital part of life.
Why study folklore at Western Kentucky?
Western Kentucky University is home to one of the most successful folklore graduate programs in the United States, as well as an undergraduate minor, a JUMP (Joint Undergraduate-Master's Program), and a broad range of Colonnade courses. Folklore studies at WKU goes back to 1917, when Gordon Wilson began a folklore library. He went on to hire folklore faculty, and an undergraduate minor was stablished in 1968, followed by a graduate degree in 1972. Our Masters of Arts in Folk Studies is renowned for preparing students for jobs in public folklore, historic preservation, and museums, as well as for going on for further graduate study. Our graduates have an outstanding rate of success in securing jobs in the discipline, and our graduates perform leading roles in public, private, corporate, and academic institutions around the nation. From 2016-2020, we were the editorial home of our field's flagship journal, the Journal of American Folklore.
You will find essential information concerning the programs, faculty, alumni, and students on this web site, but we hope you will pursue any questions or comments you may have by contacting us directly.