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Indiana University Press

The Yugoslav-American Folklore Seminar: [Introduction]


Author(s): Richard M. Dorson
Source: Journal of the Folklore Institute, Vol. 3, No. 3, [Special Issue: The Yugoslav-American
Folklore Seminar] (Dec., 1966), pp. 217-218
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3813797
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The
Folklore
Yugoslav-American
Seminar

The present issue of the Journal of the Folklore Institute is devoted to

paperspresentedor subsequentlywrittenby participantsin the AmericanYugoslavseminaron folkloreheld in Novi Sad, YugoslaviafromJune6


to 11, 1965. This was the fifth annualjoint seminarbetweenthe two
countriessponsoredby IndianaUniversitythrougha contractwith the
State Department.At these sessions,teams of scholarsengagedin discussion on topics of their mutualconcerns. The topics and the format
variedfromyearto year. At the LakeOhridconferenceof 1962,in which
I participated,panelistsfrom the two nationspairedoff with paperson
half a dozen subjectscoveringliterature,language,government,economics, and sociology.' For the 1965 conferenceProfessor Charles
Jelavich,the Balkan specialistof Indiana University'shistory department, suggestedtwo seminarson folklore and history,and I proposed
as a common theme "Nationalismand Regionalismin Americanand
Yugoslavhistoryand folklore."
The two seminarswere held in adjoiningrooms and on the final day
all participantsmet in joint session. My colleagueOscar Wintherhad
organizedthe history seminarand we each invited esteemedmembers
of our fields to form our groups. After attendinga numberof internationalfolklorecongresses,I found this bi-nationalsymposiuma novel
experiencewith its own special rewards. The participantscould meet
daily at close quartersand come to know each other's national lore.
1 See Selected Problemsof Social Sciences and Humanities. Papersfrom the Yugoslav-AmericanColloquium,Ohrid,August27-September2, 1962 (Skoplje, 1963). My
own contribution was "AmericanEnglish: Some CurrentTendencies,"paired with
Blaze Koneski's "The Development of the MacedonianLiteraryLanguage."

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218

THE YUGOSLAV-AMERICANFOLKLORESEMINAR

At first glance the United States and Yugoslaviawould seem to have


little in common, traditionallyspeaking,but the seminartheme soon
defineda common area. The six autonomousrepublicsof Yugoslavia
and the contrastingfolk regions of the States (for example,the seven
regions outlined in my Buyingthe Wind)presentsimilarinstancesof
varied religious, geographical,ethnic, and language factors splitting
the nationalculture.
Besides,the peoplesof Yugoslaviahavesettledin Americaandformed
a directlink betweenthe two countries. To make the point there is a
folktale (told by David Bynum of HarvardUniversityduringa social
eveningof the seminar)of the Montenegrin,who correspondsin Yugoslav
folklore to the mountain Kentuckianin Americanfolklore. Anxious
to better his impoverishedcondition, the Montenegrinjourneyedto
the Land of Opportunity.On arrivingin New York, he strolledalong
Fifth Avenueadmiringthe shops and skyscrapers.His eye chancedto
rest on a ten dollarbill lying on the sidewalkand he bent over to pick
it up. On reflectionhe straightenedup, sayingto himself,"Whyshould
I workmy firstday in America?"And on he walked.
Whilein Yugoslavia,however,we worked,as the papersherepresented
can testify.
RICHARD M. DORSON

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