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Accepted Paper:

Becoming a folklorist in the early Soviet Estonia  
Kaisa Langer (TU Dresden)

Paper short abstract:

In the early Soviet Estonia, the folkloristic education was reformed to fit the Soviet system. Practical work often showed the students that there were discrepancies between their skills, expectations, and folk culture. What where the new tracks to follow by the folklorists-to-be?

Paper long abstract:

Since 1919, folkloristics was taught at the University of Tartu. After the World War Two, the university was reformed. In the Soviet years, the students were expected to go through compulsory courses in a certain order instead of picking their own courses like before. In 1947, the Chair of Folklore of the Tartu State University was merged with the Department of Literature, but the possibility to specialize on folkloristics remained. However, the previous teaching staff was had fled the land and the ways of teaching folklore were changing due to the ideological constraints.

On the basis of the course plans and protocols of department meetings, I will show what theories and methods were used in educating future folklorists. Students conducted compulsory fieldwork: their field notes provide interesting information about the kind of folklore they were hoping to document. Although they were acquainted with Soviet folklore, such was often hard to find and some students were more interested in what was called "older folklore" back then. I will also follow the careers of some researchers who were educated in the early Soviet Estonia: what were their research questions and topics in the beginning of their careers.

Folkloristic education is the key to knowledge production in the field and a way to give a new direction to the discipline. In the early Soviet Estonia, the official statements and research practices often diverged and the early-career researchers were searching their own ways through the ideological slogans, the previous folklore collections, innovation and tradition.

Panel Disc04
Tracking knowledge. On the history of changing disciplinary identities after 1945 [SIEF Working Group Historical Approaches in Cultural Analysis] [P+R]
  Session 1 Monday 15 April, 2019, -