SLAV 148: Introduction to Slavic Folklore: Books


Books: Catalogs and Recommended Reading

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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.