Author:Anna Szakál (Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
The paper presents in what way the canon of Hungarian folktale collections has been formed retrospectively, applying inconsistent sets of authenticity criteria
Paper long abstract:
The study of folktales as a legitimate subject matter of scholarly investigation got institutionalised at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries in Hungary. Claiming to be recognized as an academic discipline, representatives of folklore studies demonstrated the authenticity of the texts they investigated with creating the idol of the non-interfering collector who, as a sort of machine, simply records folklore texts that are produced by the appropriately selected and then disappearing informants. Relying on case studies investigating the network of folklore collectors in Transylvania, Romania, in the second half of the 19th century in a multi-ethnic and culturally diversified context, the paper presents along what criteria this folklore collection became canonised as the topmost representative collection of Hungarian folk culture, what cultural and intellectual background, training and objectives of the middle-class collectors (parishioners, teachers) had, to what extent they were native or outsider members of local communities, how heterogeneous ideas they held about the ideal folklore text they were looking for from the male peasant informants. Later, in the 20th century, attaching the label of proper/improper collector to participants of this collection without due micro- philological research, certain texts and collectors became marginalised, omitted and silenced in folklore studies, while the heterogeneity of the concepts of folklore text was erased and became invisible.
Exchanging cultural capital: canons of vernacular tradition in the making