Folklorist Alan Dundes dead at 70
April 1, 2005 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Alan Dundes dies while teaching. The world-renowned folklorist, 70, tackled everything from religion to political jokes with an infectious enthusiam that endeared him to students, academics, and laymen alike. Dundes was often contacted by reporters looking for scholarly explanations of popular culture. His warmth and humor shined through in his speech to UC Berkeley's Class of 2002, characteristically full of wise words and wisecracks. Those wishing to share thoughts and memories of Prof. Dundes can do so at this forum.
posted by Aster (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Man, can we have people stop dying for a day or so... Or at least the famous ones?
posted by klangklangston at 10:44 AM on April 1, 2005

My folklore teacher broke down in class yesterday - Dundes was his best friend. It was terrible.
posted by moooshy at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2005

I took a folklore class at Cal during my Anthropology undergrad studies. It wasn't taught by him, his books/articles were some of my favorite reading for the class.
posted by pmbuko at 12:37 PM on April 1, 2005

Wow, my Myth, Ritual and Magic class has one of his books as a text. That's just so...strange. Brilliant scholar, though.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:36 PM on April 1, 2005

About the only college class I have distinct memories of at this point was one on Folklore and the Hebrew Scriptures that used ones of his books as a text.

The family requests that any memorial contributions be made to UC Berkeley libraries.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:42 PM on April 1, 2005

This is such a loss.

Alan Dundes' Introduction to Folkloristics at UC Berkeley was one of the most memorable and entertaining classes on campus and was certainly a highlight of my education there. He was a bombastic, vaudevillian and often rude professor who wouldn't hesitate in offending everyone in the class if it would prove a point. On occasion, his candor regarding the folklore of racism and sexism stirred the class into a frenzy of indignation, but he was always able to use that energy to help shine light on the way that folklore functions in our society. I'll miss him dearly. He was one of the people that made Berkeley what it is, and it's a shame that future students won't get a chance to take his enjoyable and enlightening classes.

posted by crystal.castles at 1:59 PM on April 1, 2005


Big time.
posted by sdrawkcab at 2:05 PM on April 1, 2005

crystal.castles: which prompts the question :) did anybody record one of his lessons ? Apparently the guy was so good some people must have tought "hell I'll tape him ! "
posted by elpapacito at 2:13 PM on April 1, 2005

They really don't make 'em like him anymore. He was such an accomplished person and was still working on dozens of different projects until the day of his death, but if you came to visit him in his office with a question or a thought, he'd have a smile on his face and chat with you like he didn't have anything to do. He wasn't just doing a job, he really believed in what he was doing, all the people he has worked with in the past 50 years, and he was a real advocate because he thought folklore was the key to unraveling many of the mysteries of this world. Berkeley will not be the same school without him. I have transcripts of his entire introductory folklore class if anybody is interested.
posted by cindileper at 4:11 PM on April 1, 2005

cindileper me me me !!
posted by elpapacito at 4:50 PM on April 1, 2005

I'd be interested in seeing those transcripts too, cindileper. I never took a class with him, but I've read some of his work and really enjoyed it. I've heard nothing but good things about his classes. Walking through Berkeley today, I noticed students wearing buttons in his honor. He will definitely be missed.
posted by Aster at 11:07 PM on April 1, 2005

What a loss.

And cindileper, add me to the list of those who would like to see those transcripts.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:04 AM on April 2, 2005

A big loss for Berkeley -- he was one of those guys who'd still be heading to his office and mentoring graduates students in his 80s. However, I've got to say that has to be exactly the way he'd want to go.
posted by MattD at 8:14 AM on April 2, 2005

Wow -- somehow I missed this on my first pass through MEFi today. Although I was never fortunate enough to hear Dundes lecture, his books are in my personal library and his influence on this field was absolutely central. It's a sad time for the discipline of folklore, as it struggles for its own legitimacy amidst the other fields that have impinged upon so much turf than Dundes and his colleagues originally plowed (culture studies, American studies, sociology, anthropology). Sad.
posted by Miko at 6:44 PM on April 2, 2005

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