Established in 1940, the Curriculum in folklore at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill was the nation’s first academic graduate program in folklore. Offering a range of both graduate and undergraduate courses, the Curriculum has been instrumental in establishing a place for folklore studies in higher education across North Carolina, in training many folklorists now working in the state, and in developing the Southern Folklife collection. Founded with an eye to regional study, and deeply integrated with the University’s longstanding focus on Southern history, literature, and culture, the Curriculum maintains a strong commitment to the study of regional folklife. Not bound to traditional definitions of folklore, but committed to preparing students for ethical practice in a multicultural world, it offers a flexible Master of Arts program that readies students for both pubic practice and further academic study.
The Curriculum is an interdisciplinary program whose faculty are all formally affiliated with other academic departments ( American Studies, Anthropology, English, Geography History, and Religious Studies). Faculty interests tend to luster in the areas of music, narrative, African American culture, material culture, public folklore, performance theory, occupational folklife, and the politics of culture. In keeping with these interests, curriculum members often work in the public sphere, pursuing projects with museums, arts councils, media production companies, and a wide range of other organizations. Primarily a graduate program, the curriculum also offers a formal undergraduate minor. Undergraduates may also devise their own major in folklore through the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies.