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The new Folking Around podcast has a theme song, y’all. A THEME SONG. Composed for us with lyrics specific to the discipline of folklore!!!

The Folking Around podcast header!
The Folking Around podcast header!

I’ve been interviewed on podcasts before (about folk religion and sex education on The Bad Orthodox, and on sexual folklore on Life on the Swingset). But the UC Berkeley Folklore Archive has a new podcast, Folking Around, which I’m beyond honored to be featured on because, well, it’s Berkeley and where I got my start as a folklorist.

Episodes thus far run around 35 minutes, though we’re also working on a super short “intro to folklore” episode. You can listen to the two that are posted thus far on the Podbean site, or on iTunes.

The episode I’m on is about fairy tales, specifically the versions of “Rapunzel” (ATU 310) that have been collected and archived at Berkeley. We discuss things like the tale type system, the history of the Grimms’ collection project, and how we define folk narrative and folktale/fairy tale. We read aloud two texts of “Rapunzel” from the archive, and interpret them for your listening pleasure (which involves some ranting about gender and sexuality from yours truly; also I kinda dominate the conversation but this is my specialty).

There’s also a fantastic episode about menstrual folklore, in honor of Women’s History Month. It features items of folk speech, along with folk beliefs about menstruation. Three of the podcasters are in my Forms of Folklore class and it’s delightful for me to listen to them relate concepts they’ve learned in class! And there’s discussion of the sexist implications of folk speech that men apply to women, as well as the use of period lore as a kind of coded communication between women.

Both topics relate to sex education in a number of ways. Fairy tales teach us about gender roles and relationships, while menstrual lore can key us in to what people believe about how women’s bodies (should) work. One particularly shocking piece of lore that’s discussed in the menstrual episode is the folk speech item “the uterus crying” to mean getting one’s period, which obviously has normative implications for pregnancy as a “natural” state for women to be in.

I like to think that these podcast episodes contribute to a larger conversation not just on folklore (which is very cool and relevant) but also sex positivity. Bringing these topics out into the open helps us talk about potentially taboo topics, and de-stigmatize discussions of gender, sex, and culture. And, of course, bodily fluids which are often thought of as “icky.”

Anyway, I’m really pleased to be part of this project and thus I encourage y’all to give the episodes posted thus far a listen!

Jeana Jorgensen

FOXY FOLKORIST Studied folklore under Alan Dundes at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy...