Folklore and Literature

This section is limited to reference works of particular importance to the investigation of the relationship between literatures in English and folklore; consequently, special attention is accorded works on narrative folklore genres in Great Britain and North America. Works devoted to the relationship between folklore and a specific literature are listed with the appropriate national literature.

For an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of literature and folklore, see Bruce A. Rosenberg, “Literature and Folklore,” pp. 90–106 in Barricelli and Gibaldi, Interrelations of Literature (U5955).

Guides to Reference Works


Steinfirst, Susan. Folklore and Folklife: A Guide to English-Language Reference Sources. 2 vols. New York: Garland, 1992. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 1429: Garland Folklore Bibliogs. 16. Z5981.S74 [GN66] 016.398.

An annotated guide to reference works for the study of folklore throughout the world, with most of the 2,577 entries for English-language books or serial bibliographies published before 1988 (although some works in other languages and published after 1987 are included). The descriptively annotated entries are organized in eight classified divisions: introduction to folklore and folklife (with sections for bibliographies, abstracts and indexes, catalogs, dictionaries and encyclopedias, and guides and handbooks), history and study of folklore, folk literature, ethnomusicology, folk belief systems, folk rituals and rites, material culture, and journals and societies; the organization of each division (except the first and last) generally follows that of the folklore volume of the MLAIB (G335). Many sections are prefaced by a headnote that identifies pertinent surveys, histories, and general studies. Annotations are generally descriptive, although several offer helpful comparative and evaluative comments or cite related works. Three indexes: authors; titles; subjects. Although it is not as current as it should be, although it includes several works that are not reference sources, and although it is mostly restricted to English-language publications, Folklore and Folklife is the best available guide to reference works for the study of folklore.

See also

Gohdes and Marovitz, Bibliographical Guide to the Study of the Literature of the U. S. A. (Q3180).

Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Enzyklopädie des Märchens: Handwörterbuch zur historischen und vergleichenden Erzählforschung. Ed. Kurt Ranke et al. 14 vols. and supplements. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1977– . GR72.E58. <>.

A comparative, historical dictionary that ranges beyond folktales to include animal stories, jests, fairy tales, novelle, and legends. The signed articles by major scholars emphasize the religious, social, psychological, and historical backgrounds of European, Mediterranean, and Asian oral and written narratives, with those of the rest of the world treated in regional or national surveys. The approximately 3,900 planned entries include extensive articles on theories, methods, genres, major tale types and motifs, figures, themes, scholars, nations, and regions. Each entry concludes with a selected bibliography. (Articles scheduled for future parts are listed in a periodic Sprichwortliste.) Indexes of Aarne-Thompson tale type entries, motifs, persons, entries, and subjects can be searched at the project’s Web site. An extensive, authoritative compilation, Enzyklopädie des Märchens is especially valuable for its attention to literary works.

Hans-Jörg Uther, “The Encyclopedia of the Folktale,” Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm, ed. Ruth B. Bottigheimer (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1986) 187–93, outlines the history and scope of the work.


Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. Ed. Maria Leach. [Corrected rpt.] New York: Funk, 1972. 1,236 pp. GR35.F82 398′.042.

A dictionary of mythological and folk figures, dances, festivals, rituals, food, games, customs, riddles, rhymes, witchcraft, magic, folk beliefs, folktales, regions, scholars, motifs, material culture, and a host of other topics related to folklore, especially of the Americas. Entries range from a sentence to several pages; some are signed, and a few conclude with a selective bibliography. The brief index of countries, regions, cultures, tribes, and groups added in the 1972 reprint does not offer adequate access to topics and persons not accorded separate entries. (A full analytic index and bibliography was promised but never published.) Although the work is seriously flawed because of numerous errors, inadequate cross-referencing and indexing, many uneven and unrepresentative entries, and generally slipshod editing, it remains the fullest English-language general dictionary of folklore. Superior coverage of classical mythology is offered by Oxford Classical Dictionary (C115); for scholars and topics related to narrative folklore, Enzyklopädie des Märchens (U5830) is the essential source. Reviews: (original printing) Wayland D. Hand, Midwest Folklore 1.4 (1951): 267–72; Stanley Edgar Hyman, Journal of American Folklore 64.253 (1951): 325–28; Hyman, Kenyon Review 12.4 (1950): 721–30; Branford P. Millar, Southern Folklore Quarterly 14.2 (1950): 123–28, 15.2 (1951): 171–72.

Fuller, more authoritative entries on forms and methods of analysis associated with North American and European folklore are offered in Thomas A. Green, ed., Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1997).


American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Ed. Jan Harold Brunvand. New York: Garland, 1996. 794 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 1551. GR101.A54 398.2′0973.

An encyclopedia of North American folklore (excluding that associated with Native Americans), with entries for genres, scholarly approaches, regions, occupations, groups, organizations, performers, and dead folklorists. The signed entries are generously full and typically conclude with a list of additional resources and cross-references. As with most encyclopedias of this type, entries are uneven in quality (e.g., “Bodylore” is nearly incomprehensible in its jargon and “Cow Tipping” fails in its attempted cuteness, but the majority—such as “Dozens” and “Paper Cutting”—are clear discussions replete with examples that place the topic within its historical and scholarly contexts). Indexed by persons and subjects. Although lacking an explanation of selection criteria and emphasizing the United States, American Folklore is the best encyclopedia of folklore and folklorists of the region.


Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud. A Dictionary of English Folklore. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. 411 pp. GR141.S59 398.20942003. Online through Oxford Reference (I530).

A dictionary of “oral genres, performance genres, calendar customs, life-cycle customs, supernatural, . . . ‘superstitious’ beliefs,” everyday lore (e.g., the Vanishing Hitchhiker), topics formerly regarded as unpleasant (e.g., sex and menstruation), groups, and deceased folklorists associated with the folklore of England. Excludes material culture, “traditional foods, sports, games, fairs, . . . most obsolete customs,” and much children’s lore. The approximately 1,250 entries are factual rather than interpretative; many conclude with a list of additional readings (several citations are keyed to the bibliography at the end of the book). Although excluding some topics treated by most folklore dictionaries, Dictionary of English Folklore offers a sure-handed, entertaining guide to the folklore of England.

Guides to Primary Works

Tale Type and Motif Indexes

For a critique of tale type and motif indexes, see the special issue of Journal of Folklore Research 34.3 (1997). Of particular importance is Alan Dundes, “The Motif-Index and the Tale Type Index: A Critique” (195–202). On standards for compiling these indexes, see Jason, Motif, Type, and Genre: A Manual for Compilation of Indices and a Bibliography of Indices and Indexing (U5840a).


Azzolina, David S. Tale Type- and Motif-Indexes: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1987. 105 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 565: Garland Folklore Bibliogs. 12. Z5983.L5 A98 [GR74.6] 016.3982.

An annotated bibliography of type and motif indexes published worldwide through 1985. Azzolina cites dissertations and theses as well as books and articles but excludes indexes of proverbs and most ballad indexes. The 186 entries are listed alphabetically by author or editor. Each is accompanied by a descriptive annotation that frequently cites reviews or related scholarship as well. Three indexes: subjects; geographic areas; additional authors. Admirably broad in coverage, Azzolina is the essential guide to type and motif indexes. Review: Hans Jörg Uther, Journal of American Folklore 102.406 (1989): 479–84 (with several additions and corrections).

For additional indexes, see Heda Jason, Motif, Type, and Genre: A Manual for Compilation of Indices and a Bibliography of Indices and Indexing (Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 2000; 279 pp.; FF Communications 273), and the additions in Azzolina’s review (Journal of American Folklore 116.460 [2003]: 236–37).


Thompson, Stith. Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends. Rev. and enl. ed. 6 vols. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1955–58. GR67.T52 398.012. <>. CD-ROM.

A systematic classification of motifs occurring in traditional oral and written narratives throughout the world. Thompson excludes “superstitions, customs, religious beliefs, riddles, or proverbs except as they happen to form an organic part of a narrative,” and it silently ignores nearly everything sexual or scatological. The motifs are organized in 23 broad subject divisions (e.g., animals, ogres, mythological motifs, captives and fugitives, the dead) that are extensively subdivided (with each division prefaced by a detailed outline). Where possible, individual motifs are accompanied by references to locations, collections, lists of variants, scholarship, related motifs, and Aarne-Thompson tale types (U5850a). Thompson’s citations are more fully and accurately identified in Polly Grimshaw, ed., Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: Bibliography and Abbreviations (N.p.: n.p., [1976?]; 38 pp.). Indexed by subjects. To locate specific motifs, users should begin with the outline prefacing each division or the thorough analytical subject index. A monumental compilation that is underutilized by literature scholars, Thompson is the indispensable source for identifying, locating, cataloging, and referring (by Thompson numbers) to motifs in oral and written literatures worldwide. Review: Kurt Ranke, Journal of American Folklore 71.279 (1958): 81–83.

The electronic versions correct several cross-references, provide some 150,000 hyperlinks between motifs, and offer keyword searching of a static text, but the brief citations are not linked to the full entries in the bibliography. If possible, users should opt for the online version because of its superior search interface; users of the CD-ROM who are unfamiliar with the Folio search engine must begin with the manual because the help screens are decidedly unhelpful.

An important complementary source for identifying motifs and tale types in English-language literature in Great Britain and North America is Ernest W. Baughman, Type and Motif-Index of the Folktales of England and North America (The Hague: Mouton, 1966; 606 pp.; Indiana U Folklore Ser. 20). The organization of the tale type index is modeled on Aarne-Thompson (U5850a) and the motif index on Thompson, with entries similar to the latter’s in content. Although Baughman lacks its own subject index, users can locate individual types and motifs by consulting the one in Thompson.


Uther, Hans-Jörg. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography (ATU). 3 vols. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 2004. FF Communications 284–86. GR1.F55 398′.012.

A classification by tale type of folktales from throughout the world but emphasizing Europe, Western Asia, and areas settled by peoples from these regions. Types of International Folktales revises Antti Aarne, The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography (Aarne-Thompson), trans. and enl. Stith Thompson, 2nd rev. (Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1961; 558 pp.; FF Communications 184), adding some 250 new types, sharpening the descriptions, and establishing numerous connections among tales but retaining as far as possible the Aarne-Thompson numbers. Unlike a motif index, which focuses on elements within tales, ATU classifies entire works. Organized within divisions for animal tales, tales of magic, religious tales, realistic tales, tales of the stupid ogre, jokes and anecdotes, and formula tales, entries provide a brief summary; notes on literary sources, origin, and distinctive features; citations to scholarship; and evidence of the geographic spread of the tale. Because these tales lack formal titles and exist in numerous variants, the best approach to the contents is through the subject index. An index to motifs would improve access. A model for tale type classifications of other regions, Types of International Folktales is the standard source for locating texts of traditional oral narratives (especially of Europe) and for identifying tale types (Aarne-Thompson—now ATU—numbers are the standard for citing tale types).

Other Guides


Briggs, Katharine M. A Dictionary of British Folk-tales in the English Language: Incorporating the F. J. Norton Collection. 4 vols. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1970–71. GR141.B69 398.2′0942.

  • Pt. A: Folk Narratives. 2 vols. 1970.

  • Pt. B: Folk Legends. 2 vols. 1971.

A dictionary of English-language folk narratives and legends of the British Isles. Pt. A has divisions for fables and exempla, fairy tales, jocular tales, novelle, and nursery tales; pt. B, for black dogs, bogies, devils, dragons, fairies, ghosts, and giants. In each division, tales are organized by title, with the full text or extensive summary followed by source(s); Aarne-Thompson (U5850a) tale type number; Thompson (U5845), Baughman (U5845a), or other motif index numbers; cross-references; and commentary. Each part is prefaced by two indexes: tale types; titles. Although an index of motifs would be welcome, Dictionary of British Folk-tales is an important compilation that saves researchers from hunting out widely scattered texts.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Surveys of Research


Dorson, Richard M., ed. Handbook of American Folklore. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983. 584 pp. GR105.H36 398′.0973.

A collection of essays that describe the state of research (as of c. 1978) in various areas of American folklore. Organized in divisions for topics of research (with sections on ethnic groups and movements, cultural myths, settings, entertainments, and forms and performers), interpretation of research, research methods (including an essay on folklore and American literature and an inadequate overview of bibliographies and indexes), and the presentation of research. The essays variously outline a topic, comment on important scholarship, discuss methodology, and suggest topics for further research. Indexed by persons, titles, and subjects. The brief essays vary considerably in quality, but together they offer a useful, if flawed, introduction to the study of American folklore. Review: Bruce Jackson, New York Folklore 10.1–2 (1984): 99–112.

For a history of folklore studies in the United States, see Simon J. Bronner, American Folklore Studies: An Intellectual History (Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 1986; 213 pp.); for European folkloristics, see Giuseppe Cocchiara, The History of Folklore in Europe, trans. John N. McDaniel (Philadelphia: Inst. for the Study of Human Issues, 1981; 703 pp.; Trans. in Folklore Studies).

See also

“Year’s Work in Scottish Literary and Linguistic Studies” (O3070).

Serial Bibliographies


Internationale volkskundliche Bibliographie / International Folklore Bibliography / Bibliographie internationale d’ethnologie, [1917–1999] (IVB). Bonn: Habelt, 1919–2004. Annual. Title varies. Z5982.I523 016.398.

IVB Online. EVIFA. Humboldt-Universität, 2008. 28 Jan. 2013. <>.

A selective bibliography of important or representative scholarship on the folklore of Europe, North and South America, and South Africa. Although the scope has broadened over the years (with the early volumes emphasizing Europe), the organization has remained fairly consistent. Entries are now listed alphabetically by author in 24 extensively classified divisions: the study of folklore; regional studies; ethnicity, identity, and living styles; age, gender, and social groups; economy, work, and occupations; folk art; tokens, symbols, and gestures; dress; food; settlement and cultural landscape; architecture; objects (including furniture and implements); customs, festivals, games, and leisure activities; religion; popular beliefs; health, illness, and the body; law; folk literature; songs; music and dance; popular literature (including fairy tales, legends, fables, and oral genres); language; theater, circus, and spectacle; and media. (The division for names was dropped with the volume for 1975–76.) Three indexes: authors; subjects (in German, but with separate ones in English in the volumes for 1979–80 through 1983–84, and in French in the volumes for 1981–82 and 1983–84); geographic places (added in the bibliography for 1999). For the history of the work, see Rolf Wilhelm Brednich, ““ The International Folklore Bibliography ”,” International Folklore Review 1 (1981): 17–21.

IVB Online, which includes data from the 1985–98 volumes, can be searched in two modes: Simple Search allows a keyword search of all fields, creator, title, date, place of publication, journal title, publisher, subjects, persons, or locale; Extended Search allows users to search combinations of the preceding fields and has links to lists of subjects, persons, and locales. Users can also browse by the taxonomy of the print version (click the English tab). Results of a search can be sorted by creator, title, or date (ascending); to mark records for downloading or printing, users must use the German-language search interface.

Although IVB offered the most extensive coverage of any serial bibliography of folklore scholarship on the four continents, it must be supplemented by the Folklore division of MLAIB (G335). For a discussion of MLAIB’s coverage of folklore, see entry G335 and Michael Taft, ““The Folklore Section of the MLA International Bibliography ”,” International Folklore Review 2 (1982): 61–64.

For earlier scholarship, the following defunct serial bibliographies and abstracts remain important:

  • Abstracts of Folklore Studies. 13 vols. Austin: U of Texas P for Amer. Folklore Soc., 1963–75. Coverage is selective—more precisely, inconsistent—with the descriptive abstracts varying considerably in detail and quality. Because entries are organized by journal, the annual index of authors, subjects, and titles is essential for locating specific articles.

  • “Annual Bibliography of Folklore, [c. 1948–62].” Journal of American Folklore 62–76 (1949–63). (The earlier bibliographies are called “Folklore in Periodical Literature” and are scattered throughout issues; the bibliographies in later years appear in a supplement to the journal.) Continued by “Annual Bibliography, [1963–64],” Abstracts of Folklore Studies 2–3 (1964–65). Coverage is selective, with works organized in divisions for general studies; material culture; customs, beliefs, and superstitions; linguistic folklore; prose narratives; folk song and folk poetry; music; dance; games; drama; folklore and literature; and peripheral materials.

  • “Folklore Bibliography for [1937–72].” Southern Folklore Quarterly 2–37 (1938–73). Continued by Folklore Bibliography for [1973–76], comp. Merle E. Simmons (Philadelphia: Inst. for the Study of Human Issues, 1975–81; Indiana U Folklore Inst. Monograph Ser. [28–29, 31, 33]). The scope has varied considerably over the years, but with the bibliography for 1967 (32 [1968]), it narrows to works about the Americas, Spain, Portugal, and other Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking areas, as well as studies by folklorists in those regions. The descriptively annotated entries are listed in 10 divisions: general folklore; prose narrative; song, game, and dance; drama; ritual and festival; belief and practice; material culture; speech; proverbs; and riddles. Indexed by authors.

See also

Sec. G: Serial Bibliographies, Indexes, and Abstracts.

ABELL (G340): Ancillary Studies/Mythology, Legend, and Folklore section in the volumes for 1934–72; Folklife division in the volume for 1973; Folklore and Folklife division in the volumes for 1974–84; and Traditional Culture, Folklore, and Folklife division in later volumes.

L’année philologique (S4890).

Annual Bibliography of Scottish Literature (O3075).

International Medieval Bibliography (M1835).

Minorities in America (Q3700).

MLAIB (G335): Through the volume for 1980, many national literature divisions have a Folklore heading or section. See also the Folklore heading in the General division in the volume for 1928; General VII [or V]: Folklore and Folklore Motifs in Literature section in the volumes for 1929–32; the Folklore heading in the General division in the volumes for 1933–54; General V [or VIII]: Folklore in the volumes for 1955–68; and the Folklore division in later volumes. Researchers must also check the headings beginning “Folk-” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

“Publications in American Studies from German-Speaking Countries,” Amerikastudien (Q3285).

Other Bibliographies


Flanagan, Cathleen C., and John T. Flanagan. American Folklore: A Bibliography, 1950–1974. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1977. 406 pp. Z5984.U6 F55 [GR105] 016.398′0973.

A bibliography of publications on the verbal folklore of the United States. Flanagan excludes notes, newspaper articles, and most reviews. The 3,639 or so entries are listed alphabetically by author in 15 divisions (only a few of which are minimally classified): collections of essays; reference works; study and teaching of folklore; general studies; ballads and songs; tales and narrative material; legends; myth; beliefs, customs, superstitions, and cures; folk heroes; folklore in literature; proverbs, riddles, Wellerisms, and limericks; speech, names, and cries; minor genres; and obituaries of folklorists. Many entries are accompanied by brief descriptive annotations, a few of which include evaluative comments. Indexed by authors. There are numerous errors in citations, inconsistencies in classification, and significant omissions, and the insufficiently classified divisions, lack of cross-references, and inexcusable failure to provide a subject index make American Folklore a time-consuming work to consult. Yet this and Haywood, Bibliography of North American Folklore (U5875), remain essential sources principally because they offer the most thorough coverage of scholarship before 1975 on most genres of American folklore; fortunately, parts are gradually being superseded by bibliographies of individual genres. Reviews: Jan Harold Brunvand, Western Folklore 38.1 (1979): 66–70; Robert W. Halli, Jr., Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 44.1 (1978): 45–47.


Haywood, Charles. A Bibliography of North American Folklore and Folksong. 2nd rev. ed. 2 vols. New York: Dover, 1961. Z5984.U5 H32 016.398.

  • Vol. 1: The American People North of Mexico, Including Canada.

  • Vol. 2: The American Indians North of Mexico, Including the Eskimos.

A bibliography of primary and secondary works (including some fiction) through mid-1948 related to the folklore of North America (along with a few works on the British Isles). The second edition is actually an uncorrected reprint of the original one (New York: Greenberg, 1951; 1,291 pp.) with a new index of composers, arrangers, and performers. The approximately 40,000 entries are organized in seven variously classified divisions: (vol. 1) general studies, regions, ethnic groups, occupations, and miscellaneous; (vol. 2) general studies and cultural areas. Each of the various subdivisions typically includes sections for folklore and folk song. A few entries are accompanied by brief descriptive or evaluative annotations. Two indexes: authors, subjects, and titles of folk works; composers, arrangers, and performers. A conglomeration of entries that is confusingly organized, admits much that is inconsequential or outside the realm of folklore, includes numerous errors, and has major gaps in coverage, Haywood is, however, an essential source for identifying studies before mid-1948 on North American folklore. Fortunately, it is now being superseded in many areas by bibliographies on individual genres. Reviews: (1951 ed.) Richard M. Dorson, Southern Folklore Quarterly 15.4 (1951): 263–66; MacEdward Leach, Journal of American Folklore 65.255 (1952): 98–101; (2nd ed.) Dorson, Southern Folklore Quarterly 27.4 (1963): 346.


Szwed, John F., and Roger D. Abrahams. Afro-American Folk Culture: An Annotated Bibliography of Materials from North, Central, and South America, and the West Indies. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Inst. for the Study of Human Issues, 1978. Pubs. of the Amer. Folklore Soc.: Bibliog. and Special Ser. 31–32. Z5984.A44 S95 [GR103] 016.909′04′96.

A bibliography of published scholarship, some literary works, and record notes (through 1973) on Afro-American folk culture. The entries are listed alphabetically in six divisions: bibliographies, general studies, North America, Caribbean, Central America, and South America (with the last three subdivided by region or country). Many of the very brief annotations are inadequately descriptive, and several works are unannotated. Two cumulated indexes in each volume: subjects; places. Annotations are frequently uninformative; there are significant omissions; and studies about a particular topic are difficult to locate because of the unrefined organization and inadequate, incomplete subject indexing. Even so, Afro-American Folk Culture is useful because of its breadth of coverage.

See also

Baer, Folklore and Literature of the British Isles (M1390).

Clements and Malpezzi, Native American Folklore, 1879–1979 (Q3885).

Comitas, Complete Caribbeana, 1800–1975 (R4790a).

Fowke and Carpenter, Bibliography of Canadian Folklore in English (R4665).

Jones, Folklore and Literature in the United States (Q3290).

Jordan and Comissiong, English-Speaking Caribbean (R4785).

Kiell, Psychoanalysis, Psychology, and Literature (U6540).

Lindfors, Black African Literature in English (R4425).

Literary History of the United States: Bibliography (Q3300).

Miller, Comprehensive Bibliography for the Study of American Minorities (Q3700).

Nemanic, Bibliographical Guide to Midwestern Literature (Q3600).

Rubin, Bibliographical Guide to the Study of Southern Literature (Q3625).

Salzman, American Studies: An Annotated Bibliography (Q3335).

Watters and Bell, On Canadian Literature, 1806–1960 (R4655).

Dissertations and Theses


Dundes, Alan, comp. Folklore Theses and Dissertations in the United States. Austin: U of Texas P for Amer. Folklore Soc., 1976. 610 pp. Pubs. of the Amer. Folklore Soc.: Bibliog. and Special Ser. 27. Z5981.D85 [GR65] 016.398.

A bibliography of master’s theses and doctoral dissertations on folklore accepted between 1860 and 1968 by institutions in the United States. Organized chronologically by year of acceptance, then alphabetically by author, entries cite title, degree, department, institution, and number of pages. Three indexes: subjects; authors; institutions. Because of the chronological organization, the best approach to contents is through the detailed analytic subject index (which, however, is based on titles). The introduction discusses the importance of folklore theses and dissertations. Coverage is less complete after 1964, and the nature of the sources means that there are inevitably omissions, errors, and incomplete entries; however, Dundes is a time-saving compilation of theses and dissertations from a variety of sources.

See also

Sec. H: Guides to Dissertations and Theses.

Emerson and Michael, Southern Literary Culture: A Bibliography of Masters’ and Doctors’ Theses (Q3630).

Woodress, Dissertations in American Literature, 1891–1966 (Q3320).


Coverage here is limited to genres that have reference sources of interest to literary researchers.



Richmond, W. Edson. Ballad Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1989. 356 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 499: Garland Folklore Bibliogs. 4. Z7156.P7 R5 [PN6110.B2] 016.80881′44.

A selective bibliography of studies published from 1898 through 1986 on the folk ballads of northern and western Europe, England, Scotland, and North America. The approximately 1,656 entries are organized alphabetically in 13 unclassified divisions: general introductions; collections of essays; journals devoted to folk music; reference works and bibliographies; studies of ballads generally; ballads and literature; ballads and history; language; prosody and metrics; studies of individual ballad types and cycles; music; collectors, editors, and histories of ballad scholarship; major ballad collections. The descriptive annotations offer generally brief but adequate descriptions of content; however, poor layout makes scanning entries difficult. Two indexes: authors; subjects. But for “elective and subjective” the criteria governing the selection of studies remain unexplained; yet Ballad Scholarship usefully identifies major studies in a variety of languages.



Carnes, Pack. Fable Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1985. 382 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 367: Garland Folklore Bibliogs. 8. Z5896.C37 [PN980] 016.3982.

An international bibliography of books, articles, and dissertations, for the most part published between 1880 and 1981 (with some works from 1982). Listed alphabetically by scholar, the 1,457 entries are accompanied by full descriptive annotations that frequently include evaluative comments and cite Aarne-Thompson (U5850a), Thompson (U5845), and Perry numbers. Three indexes: names and subjects; fables (by Perry number); tale types (by Aarne-Thompson number). Although Fable Scholarship is selective, the full annotations, international coverage, and thorough indexing make it the essential starting point for research on the fable.



Miller, Terry E. Folk Music in America: A Reference Guide. New York: Garland, 1986. 424 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 496. ML128.F74 M5 016.781773.

An annotated bibliography of books, articles, and dissertations through 1984 on folk music in the United States. Miller emphasizes recent ethnomusicological publications; it excludes articles in newspapers and popular magazines, record notes, and reviews, as well as most master’s theses, articles of fewer than nine pages, and works published before 1900. The 1,927 entries are organized in nine variously classified divisions: general works (including bibliographies, discographies, reference works, and general studies), music of the American Indians and Eskimos, Anglo-American folk songs and ballads, later developments in Anglo-American folk music (especially bluegrass, country and western, folk song revival, and protest music), traditional instruments and instrumental music, American psalmody and hymnody, singing school and shape-note traditions, African American music, and music of various ethnic traditions. Several of the descriptive annotations, which sometimes include an evaluative comment, inadequately summarize contents. Two indexes: scholars; subjects. Confusing in its explanation of criteria governing inclusion and omitting numerous studies, Folk Music in America is only a starting point for research on folk music in the United States.

Some additional studies can be found in “Current Bibliography” in most issues of Ethnomusicology: Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology 1–44 (1953–2000); installments from 37.1 (1993) to 50.1 (2006) can be found at The bibliography was discontinued after 54.3 (2010).



The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs. Rev. F. P. Wilson. 3rd ed. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1970. 930 pp. PN6421.O9 398.9′2′03.

A dictionary of selected proverbs used in written works in England since the fourteenth century. Listed alphabetically by the first significant word, with cross-references for other words, each proverb is followed by a chronological list of dated examples and variants. For some additions and corrections, see Robert D. Dunn, ““Corrections to The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs ”,” American Notes and Queries 24.3–4 (1985): 52–54. Although this is the best overall dictionary for identifying proverbs in English, it must be supplemented by the following:

  • Mieder, Wolfgang, Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie B. Harder, eds. A Dictionary of American Proverbs. New York: Oxford UP, 1992. 710 pp. Includes about 15,000 proverbs in actual use in the contiguous United States and Canada. Entries, based on field research by numerous contributors, record regional distribution as well as appearance in standard collections.

  • Stevenson, Burton. The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Familiar Phrases. New York: Macmillan, 1948. 2,957 pp. (Reprinted as The Macmillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases, 1965.)

  • Taylor, Archer, and Bartlett Jere Whiting. A Dictionary of American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, 1820–1880. Cambridge: Belknap–Harvard UP, 1958. 418 pp.

  • Tilley, Morris Palmer. A Dictionary of the Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: A Collection of the Proverbs Found in English Literature and the Dictionaries of the Period. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1950. 854 pp. Much of this material is incorporated in Oxford Dictionary.

  • Whiting, Bartlett Jere. Early American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases. Cambridge: Belknap–Harvard UP, 1977. 555 pp.

  • ———. Modern Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1989. 709 pp. Coverage extends from c. 1930 to the early 1980s and emphasizes popular sources.

  • Whiting, Bartlett Jere, and Helen Wescott Whiting. Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings Mainly before 1500. Cambridge: Belknap–Harvard UP, 1968. 733 pp.

Guide to Reference (B60), New Walford Guide to Reference Resources (B65), and “International Bibliography of New and Reprinted Proverb Collections, [1975– ],” Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship 1–  (1984– ), list additional dictionaries.

See also

Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (U6315).

Guides to Scholarship

Mieder, Wolfgang. International Bibliography of Paremiology and Phraseology. 2 vols. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009. Z7191.M542 [PN6401] 010.415.

An international bibliography of books, articles, and dissertations (primarily in English and European languages) from 1800 through 2007 on proverbs and phraseology that incorporates the following works by Mieder:

  • International Proverb Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1982. 613 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 342: Garland Folklore Bibliogs. 3.

  • Supplement I (1800–1981). New York: Garland, 1990. 436 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 1230: Garland Folklore Bibliogs. 15.

  • Supplement II (1982–1991). New York: Garland, 1993. 927 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 1655: Garland Folklore Bibliogs. 20.

  • Supplement III (1990–2000). New York: Lang, 2001. 457 pp.

Mieder excludes collections of proverbs, literary studies that are lists unaccompanied by critical analysis, and most brief notes. Listed alphabetically by scholar, the 10,027 entries are accompanied by a list of keywords. Two indexes: names of second author and those included in the list of keywords; keywords. Thoroughly indexed and admirably broad in coverage, International Bibliography of Paremiology and Phraseology is the essential guide to international paremiological scholarship (including numerous studies of proverbs in literary works), but it must be supplemented by MLAIB (G335) and by International Proverb Scholarship and its first two supplements because of their full (and sometimes evaluative) annotations and indexes of specific proverbs. Continued in “International Proverb Scholarship: An Updated Bibliography, [1981– ]” in Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship 1–  (1984– ).

Studies of proverbs in literary works are listed in Mieder and George B. Bryan, Proverbs in World Literature: A Bibliography (New York: Lang, 1996; 305 pp.). The 2,654 unannotated entries are organized by literary author.