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Implied Nowhere - Absence in Folklore Studies

Implied Nowhere

Absence in Folklore Studies

By Shelley Ingram, Willow G. Mullins, and Todd Richardson
Foreword by Anand Prahlad
Hardcover : 9781496822956, 236 pages, 12 b&w illustrations, April 2019
Paperback : 9781496822963, 236 pages, 12 b&w illustrations, April 2019

A groundbreaking inquiry into what is missing in folklore and folklore studies


In Implied Nowhere: Absence in Folklore Studies, authors Shelley Ingram, Willow G. Mullins, and Todd Richardson talk about things folklorists don’t usually talk about. They ponder the tacit aspects of folklore and folklore studies, looking into the unarticulated expectations placed upon people whenever they talk about folklore and how those expectations necessarily affect the folklore they are talking about.

The book’s chapters are wide-ranging in subject and style, yet they all orbit the idea that much of folklore, both as a phenomenon and as a field, hinges upon unspoken or absent assumptions about who people are and what people do. The authors articulate theories and methodologies for making sense of these unexpressed absences, and, in the process, they offer critical new insights into discussions of race, authenticity, community, literature, popular culture, and scholarly authority. Taken as a whole, the book represents a new and challenging way of looking again at the ways groups come together to make meaning.

In addition to the main chapters, the book also includes eight “interstitials,” shorter studies that consider underappreciated aspects of folklore. These discussions, which range from a consideration of knitting in public to the ways that invisibility shapes an internet meme, are presented as questions rather than answers, encouraging readers to think about what more folklore and folklore studies might discover if only practitioners chose to look at their subjects from angles more cognizant of these unspoken gaps.


"Through their collaborative Introduction and individually authored ‘full-length’ chapters and shorter vignettes, Ingram, Mullins, and Richardson cleverly bring to the fore and interrogate the unspoken assumptions that are central in folklore studies. "

- Tina Paphitis, Folklore

"There is much to be inspired by and to debate in Implied Nowhere. The book may be of particular interest to folklorists with an interest in literary cultural studies and popular culture. "

- Kirsten Møllegaard, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Journal of American Culture

"Implied Nowhere is precisely the kind of work folklore studies needs more of to complement the ceaseless production of stringently academic materials. Its authors—Mullins, Shelley Ingram, and Todd Richardson—are engaging writers, attentive to the craft, and their collaborative effort is a sheer pleasure to read as well as a poignant admonitory statement. "

- Stephen Olbrys Gencarella, Journal of American Folklore, Volume 134, Number 532, Spring 2021

"Implied Nowhere is an irreverent and absolutely necessary examination of the beliefs that drive the field of folklore and the practitioners who diligently—and at times self-righteously—locate, collect, and write about people and their lore we claim continues to have relevance in an ever-evolving technological world. Ingram, Mullins, and Richardson have written a delightfully wicked and edgy book about folklore, written for folklorists. This collection is eclectic and daring in its execution, never making fun, but asking us to be able to laugh at our own presumptions, which are many, and to be brave enough to cast aside what does not work for our discipline anymore. To ignore this new work would be folly, indeed, for folklorists who hope to keep our discipline alive, accessible, and interesting to a new generation of students and scholars. "

- Elaine J. Lawless, Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emerita at University of Missouri and coauthor of When They Blew the Levee: Race, Politics, and Community in Pinhook, Missouri

"The authors, collectively and individually, address an interesting and increasingly vital point about some of our foundational questions in academic folklore. What tacit assumptions guide the discipline: when so much is binary, what is the implicit complement, the ‘proper not’ to our objects/subjects of study? What is so inborn in our approaches that they never even became ‘settled law’ as the issue of something needing settling never arose? Through larger contributions, mainly drawn from the folklore and literature arm of the discipline but demonstrating a deep understanding of the breadth of folklore studies, they make their point. "

- Ian Brodie, author of A Vulgar Art: A New Approach to Stand-Up Comedy