A Folklorist's Progress: Reflections of a Scholar's Life
The Life of Stith Thompson as revealed in these pages was in some ways ordinary, in others extraordinary. Reading through A Folklorist's Progress one sees clearly the contours of an academic life in the midcentury United States. In an efficient manner, Professor Thompson portrays the rounds of an academic of the period, planning for courses, establishing and revising programs, attending international meetings and conferences, working ideas into publications. He also describes the social domain with its cycle of parties, receptions, visits, and social clubs. These autobiographical pages paint an engaging portrait of community organized around the life of the intellect. But not every scholar has the opportunity to found an academic field, and in this light the career of Stith Thompson veers toward the extraordinary. Obituaries described Thompson as "the father of folklore, " a journalistic label that, with some qualifications, epitomizes his scholarly career. While folklore studies existed in Europe well before Thompson's lifetime, it was Stith Thompson who, in 1949, conceived of a doctoral degree program in folklore, the first in the U.S. Stith Thompson's success in securing support for the unknown discipline of folklore was due to his stature in the academic community, his skill in dealing with the administrative structure of an American university, and his ties to funding agencies, the state department, and scholarly societies all over the world.
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acquainted Alan Lomax American Folklore Society archive Argentina arrived attended ballads began Bloomington boat brother Buenos Aires California Chicago Christiansen classes club collection College Colorado College congress Copenhagen course cultural deal dean dinner Dorothy drove Duilearga Erixon eventually father finished Folklore Institute folklorists folktale gave girls graduate Harvard Helsinki Indiana University Indianapolis interested invited Irish Irish Folklore Commission John John Lomax Kaarle Krohn Kentucky knew Krohn later learned lecture literature lived Lomax looked Louise lunch married McClaskey meeting miles Modern Language Association months mother motif index museum Norwegian old friends pleasant president Professor published remember Rita Ruth Seeger Seamus songs Spanish spring Springfield stayed Stith Thompson stopped summer talk teachers teaching Texas things told took train trip week wife