Dorson, Richard M.
In 1957, Richard M. Dorson replaced Stith Thompson as the head of folklore studies at Indiana University, establishing himself as a major scholar and perhaps the foremost influence in the field. Dorson is often called the father of American folklore. In addition, he is given credit for bringing about an international or cross-cultural approach to the subject.
Dorson was editor of the Journal of American Folklore (1959-63), president of the American Folklore Society (1967-68), and author of numerous studies on the subject.
His textbook, American Folklore (1959), which employs a historical approach, was the first comprehensive study of the subject. In it he attempted to bring about what he calls a hemispheric theory, wherein the disciplines of both folklore and history are combined, stressing the intimate bonds between the culture of the folk and the history of the American experience. It is still recognized as a classic work.
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