Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Anti-Semitism, or Jew hatred, much of which is expressed and communicated through folklore, has a long history and continues unabated today. Incendiary opinions, deadly misconceptions, and insidious accusations have plagued Jews throughout history. Anti-Semitic expressions and incidents are scattered throughout countless texts, but no single comprehensive reference work that compiles all forms of anti-Semitic folklore motifs exists. This thesis attempts to fill that gap by supplying an index of anti-Semitic motifs.
To establish a baseline of already catalogued anti-Semitic motifs, all six volumes of Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folklore-Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books and Local Legends were scanned and any relevant motifs listed were archived in a card index. Approximately 250 more previously unidentified motifs were documented from historical materials, published books and articles, artifacts, and personal communications. All motifs used in this study were developed from English sources, or from English speakers borrowing from other languages and cultures.
The procedure to categorize the folklore motifs is based on a numbering system developed by folklorist Stith Thompson in 1955. Using Thompson's classifications of motifs as a base, the approximately 250 newly identified anti-Semitic folklore motifs I discovered have been integrated with Thompson motifs. Anti-Semitic materials covered begin with the Middle Ages and continue to the present day.
Although not comprehensive, this motif index incorporates examples of anti-Semitic folklore from all genres, making motifs and examples easily accessible for anyone who wishes to analyze historical and current anti-Semitism. Indexing anti-Semitic folklore in a single reference work based on a universal folklore indexing system creates a body of information to be used as a resource tool for education and research of anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the index can easily be expanded as more material comes to light.
Bell, Sita, "Anti-Semitic Folklore Motif Index" (2009). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 299.
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