Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Lisa Gabbert


Lisa Gabbert


Lynne McNeill


John McLaughlin


Folklore being a relatively new science there is still debate going on about what Folklore actually is. Most of what one reads is relative to who the “folk” are, where the “lore” comes from and how it is inspired. This thesis looks at folkore from a viewpoint which observes folklore from the other direction. Not how do the folk create the lore, rather how does the lore create the folk?

Folklore is well shown to be a product, or at least an abstract of one’s personal identity, but, is it not also a tool used by the individual in the creation of an identity that the individual wishes to relate to others, “outsiders.” I grew up in a family situation which had its roots in two almost diametrically opposed ideologies, having in common only the prospective “good” either if these identities could be seen to promote. A religious family married into an outlaw family. The family folklore painted a magnificently broad stroke on what could be considered good, or heroic, but the outlaw folklore ended up carrying the day.

Based on input from three generations of this tribe, I examine how their stories are formed, interpreted, and used to magnify the three differing individualities involved. There is a strong similarity between the folkloric evolution of outlaws into heroes, and the adoption of seeds from these heroic outlaw tales in the creation of personal identities.

Additional Files

Appendix A.pdf (95 kB)