Plzeňské sympozia

Jiří Woitsch

Between the Plough and the Czech Cottage: The (Non-)Discovery of the Folk Invention in the 19th Century and Its Impact on Research of Folklore

pp. 15–28 (Czech), Summary 27–28 (English)

The essay presents and uses specific examples to analyze the conceptualization of the common people and folklore in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Two opposing beliefs on the ability of the non-elites to be actively creative were typical for this era. The one side assumed a completely passive taking over of patterns, technologies, etc. from economically and socially more advanced environments, while the other attributed exceptional creative abilities to "regular folk,” some even leading to historic discoveries. These two concepts strongly resonated in various Central European trends in the humanities and social sciences throughout the entire 20th century. This was symptomatic, especially in those instances, where historians, museologists, art historians or even non-academic experts were the ones conducting the research. Both lines of thought share the highly problematic notion of viewing the people as a creative collective entity or a passive entity.

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