Slavic Folklore (basic guide to research): Books


Books: Catalogs and Recommended Reading

KULibrary Catalog

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Catalogs & Search Tips



Identify Keywords: Before searching the Library Catalog or other databases, take a few minutes to write down all the words that describe your topic. Use these words in keyword searches. For more help with search strategies, follow the links immediately below.

Follow the Bibliographic Trail: An effective method for gathering reliable information is to follow the citations or references from one source to another. Just as Internet links take you to other pages or sources recommended by a site's webmaster, the author of a book or article provides a series of notes or references in a bibliography. These references typically lead to other useful sources on the topic. 

Can't Find Books on Your Topic? Some content on a topic can be hidden in small chunks within general works. For example, there may be a few pages or paragraphs on the rusalki in W. F. Ryan's book Bathhouse At Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia.

Still Can't Find Books on Your Topic? Use WorldCat to search the library catalogs of other universities, then request to borrow the books through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Recommended Monographs

The works below have been recommended by your instructor. 


Barford, P. M. The Early Slavs: Culture and Society in Early Medieval Eastern Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.  [Straightforward, useful, and factual.]

Gimbutas, Marija. The Slavs. New York: Praeger, 1971.  [A standard in the field.]

Wilson, Stephen. The Magical Universe: Everyday Ritual and Magic in Pre-Modern Europe. London: Hambledon & London, 2000. [This important study shows connections between beliefs of Slavs and other Europeans; it explains the nature and basis of agricultural, health, life-cycle, and divination rituals. An important work.]


Bendix, Regina. In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997.

Bogatyrev, Petr, and Jakobson, Roman. “Folklore as a Special Form of Creativity.” In: Peter Steiner, editor. The Prague School: Selected Writings 1929-1946. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982. pp. 32-46.

Clifford, James, and George Marcus, editors. Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography: A School of American Research Advanced Seminar. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

Dorson, Richard, editor. Folklore and Folklife, an Introduction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972. [The best introduction we have to how to think about folklore and how to conceptualize its genres.]

Dundes, Alan, editor. Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. Four volumes. London and New York: Routledge, 2005. [This is a major contribution to the field and will soon become the standard. It is a compilation of primary essays and articles about folkloristics that trace the history of the discipline, discuss the pioneers of folkloristics, and identify major genres, theories, and concepts in the field.]

Dundes, Alan, editor. International Folkloristics: Classic Contributions by the Founders of Folklore. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Dundes, Alan. Interpreting Folklore. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1980. [A good “how-to” book.]

Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books, 2000.

Propp, Vladimir. Theory and History of Folklore. Translated by Ariadna Y. Martin and Richard P. Martin. Edited (with an Introduction and Notes) by Anatoly Liberman. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. (Series: Theory and History of Literature, 5.)


Hilton, Alison. Russian Folk Art. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Hubbs, Joanna. Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Ivanits, Linda. Russian Folk Belief.
Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1989.

Johns, Andreas. Baba Yaga: The Ambiguous Mother and Witch of the Russian Folktale. New York: Peter Lang, 2004. (International Folkloristics, 3.) [More than you wanted to know about this fascinating witch.]

Miller, Frank. Folklore for Stalin: Russian Folklore and Pseudofolklore of the Stalin Era. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1990.

Oinas, Felix J. Essays on Russian Folklore and Mythology. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1985.

Oinas, Felix J., and Soudakoff, Stephen, editors and translators. The Study of Russian Folklore. The Hague: Mouton, 1975.

Perkowski, Jan, editor. Vampires of the Slavs. Cambridge, Mass.: Slavica Publishers, 1976.

Ralston, W.E.S. The Songs of the Russian People, as Illustrative of Slavonic Mythology and Russian Social Life. New York: Haskell House, 1970. [Although somewhat outdated, Ralston’s book is still very useful and provides an interesting general view of Russian folklore. This work is also available online:]

Ryan, W. F. The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

Sokolov, IUrii Matveevich. Russian Folklore. Translated by Catherine Ruth Smith. New York: Macmillan, 1950. [This volume remains the single most comprehensive survey of the Russian folk tradition.]


More has been written about folk tales than any other single genre of folklore. This is far from an exhaustive list, but it represents a good place to start.

Aarne, Antti (1867-1925). The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography [Verzeichnis der Märchentypen]. Translated from the Finnish by Stith Thompson. 2nd revised edition. Helsinki: Academia Scientarum Fennica, 1961. (Series: Folklore Fellows Communications, No. 3.)

Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 1976. [A Freudian interpretation of classic Grimm tales. You will learn what your passion for shoes really means!]

Bottigheimer, Ruth, editor. Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.

Haney, Jack. The Complete Russian Folktale. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1999.

Lüthi, Max. Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976.

Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale. 2nd edition. Translated by Laurence Scott. Revised and edited with a preface by Louis A. Wagner. New Introduction by Alan Dundes. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968. [This book is the gold standard for the understanding of the structure and functions of the folk tale.]

Tatar, Maria. The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales [1st ed., 1987], [Expanded 2nd ed., 2003]. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003. [A very entertaining and eye-opening read about ancient remnants in folk tales and how to understand them in both an historical context and in our own.]

Thompson, Stith. The Folktale, [1967 reprint]. New York: Dryden Press, 1946. [A classic.]

Thompson, Stith. Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. Revised edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955-1958. [This is a reference work that indexes most of the world’s folk tales by motif and function. Not for the faint of heart, this work is for advanced research in folklore.]

Warner, Marina. From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers. London: Chatto & Windus, 1994.

Zipes, Jack. Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales, [Revised and expanded, 2002]. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002. [A very ideological but stimulating read.]


Lord, Albert Bates. The Singer of Tales (1st ed.), [2nd ed., 2000]. Edited by Stephen Mitchell and Gregory Nagy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. Original publication: 1960.


Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

McClelland, Bruce. Slayers and Their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006. Although the title does not indicate so, this volume deals with the Slavic vampire tradition, tracing it from its earliest roots into contemporary culture.