No. 47                                                                                                          October 2000

ISSN 1026-1001







Schmidt: Hairy-Handed Hitchhiker





Security Warning



Body Parts in Bangkok

Got Beer?

The Runaway Father-in-Law



Victor: Paranormal Beliefs



David Buchan Student Essay Prize for Contemporary Legend Research

2001 Perspectives on Contemporary Legend

Doctoral Fellowship Opportunity





In the last issue of FTN, the editor, Philip Hiscock, requested that someone step forward to take over the reins of editing this newsletter. That request was again made during the 2000 ISCLR conference in Edinburgh. I was wondering why everyone quickly vacated the room, and being naïve and wanting to keep my seat, stayed where I was. It was then the ISCLR Executive Board attacked me and, well, as they say, the rest is history.

And so, I am now the new editor of this newsletter. The new editorial address is as follows, Mikel J. Koven, Department of Theatre, Film and Television, Parry-Williams Building, Penglais Campus, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom, SY23 2AJ. Our email address is now: Please continue sending news, queries, research notes, clippings, calls for papers, or notes about local rumor and legend cycles to me for inclusion in FTN.






The Hairy-Handed Hitchhiker and his Relatives in South Africa

Sigrid Schmidt

Am Neuen Teiche 5

D - 31139 Hildesheim, Germany


One of the most famous rogues of contemporary legends was active again as recently as April 1998. According to R. Hathaway and L. Doyle’s report in FOAFTALE NEWS 44, May 1999, this time the criminal who looks for victims among female drivers did not ask for a lift at the roadside but appeared at the parking lot of the Tuttle Mall in Columbus, Ohio. He emerged as a Good Samaritan from the crowd and helped the heroine to repair the flat tire of her car. But when he asked for a ride to his own car on the other side of the mall the heroine became suspicious. She wisely bluffed that she had to go back to the mall and alerted a security guard. Returning to her car they discovered that the good helper had disappeared but his briefcase - with butcher knife and rope inside! - stowed in her car trunk. According to this report the heroine acted wisely and could avert a disaster. The story, therefore, has all the characteristics of a cautionary story for women as drivers which particularly warns about the dangers luring at the parking-lots of shopping malls. “The moral of this story... learn to change your own tire, call someone you know and trust to help you or call mall security in the first place to assist you.“

We recognize here an offshoot of the legend of the Hairy-Handed (Smith 1983:91) or Hairy-Armed Hitchhiker (Brunvand 1984:52-55; 1993:327), though two main motifs are missing: The rogue does not dress as a woman to beguile his victim, and he is not recognized by his hairy hands. Even without these motifs the story has enough potential to thrill. The Hairy-Handed Hitchhiker is one of the most popular contemporary legends, it is not only widely told but can be traced back into a remarkable time depth. “Versions of this comparatively well-known story have been circulating in England certainly since the early 1800s. The Stamford Mercury for 11 April 1834 reports a similar tale...“ (Smith 1983:91). If we look at the versions of the last decades of the 20th century we realize that they usually tell about a male hitchhiker dressed as a woman, a female driver who becomes suspicious and suddenly speeds away, and the handbag of the hitchhiker containing butcher knife, axe or rope (e.g. Portnoy 1980:117, 212; Brunvand 1984:52-55; Brednich 1991:28-30; Fischer 1991:46-47, 146; Burger 1992:45-46, 156). But the more we go back in time the more often the driver turns into a man - and the more plausible and necessary it becomes that the hitchhiker hides his male identity. In Bausinger’s first version heard in the early post-war years it is a male ambulance driver, in his second version, also of the same period, it is a male veterinarian even identified by name (Bausinger 1958:251; 1980:194).

The 19th century versions unanimously attribute the role to a male person. The heroes are usually well-to-do individuals. In the story quoted by Brednich from a Northern German paper of 1896 it was a wine merchant of Dunkirk, Northern France. He was on a business trip to Belgium and had a considerable sum of money with him. A tottering old woman in a wide cloak asked for a lift. But when the merchant helped her to climb his horse carriage he saw her hand - and you know what the hand looked like, I suppose! The merchant suddenly pulled off the hood of the “old lady,” saw the bearded face of a strong man confronting him and kicked the rogue in the face as he fell. Whipping his horse on he galloped away. Later he discovered in the basket of the old lady a revolver, a dagger, an axe and a heavy hammer (Brednich 1991:30).

The adventure of Professor Peuckert’s grandfather, which took place in 19th century Silesia, went nearly in the same way: While the good-hearted driver helped the little old woman to climb on his carriage, he discovered a beard under her woolen scarf and whipped the horses on. The robber fell back but soon shot after him. And you can guess what the driver later found in the old lady’s basket: it was filled with knives and pistols (quoted in full by Brednich 1991:14-15). Around 1850, George Marsden of Hollowmeadows near Sheffield had a similar experience with highway robbers, E. Perkins related it and is cited by P. Smith (1983:91). So in the various testimonies of the 19th century it is a male highway robber that by means of disguising himself as an infirm old woman tries to rob a rich person.

We have to keep this tradition in mind when we turn to South Africa and to the most complex and enigmatic figure of Afrikaans folk belief and legend, ANTJIE SOMERS. This lady (a translation of her name would read Anne Summer) is not to be found outside South Africa. The meticulous researches by A. Coetzee and P.W. Grobbelaar unearthed a bewildering medley of characteristics and tales which are associated with her name (Grobbelaar et al. 1977:62-64, Grobbelaar 1981:279-280, 355-358 and A. Coetzee ed. by Grobbelaar 1994:66-69).  Grobbelaar states that Antjie Somers is connected with nearly each branch of folklore, from robber story to ghost legend, from heartmoving ballad to mock name. This study is mainly based on his collections, but I have translated the Afrikaans references.

I consider her role as a bogeyman as central for the understanding of the figure and therefore want to group the statements in relation to this function. Antjie Somers was the bogey of several generations of South African children particularly in the rural areas of the Cape. The first Afrikaans folklorist and ethnographer, Th. Schonken, described her in his thesis in 1910 (p.23) as a figure of long standing, and in A. Coetzee’s folklore surveys of the 1940s still many persons sent in reports of their family traditions. “When I was a child not a week passed without my mother warning us about Antjie Somers.“ Each family seemed to have had a different tradition and the accounts vary. Sometimes she is described as a colored woman or a black woman with a long wide dress under which she hides a big sack and a huge knife. She catches naughty children, pushes them into the sack - which usually contains scorpions and other dangerous animals - and carries them away. She also might be a Cape Malay woman (who formerly had a reputation of being well-versed in black magic), who lives in a little hut out in the veldt. But sometimes she is said to be a man who only wears women’s dresses, a man with a huge knife.

Of course a bogey must look frightening. According to one report she has tusks like a beast of prey and goat’s feet (echoes of the Devil). More frequently she is described as a ghost. If you get close enough to her you see that her face is just a skull, in fact she is a mere skeleton, and her rib bones rattle in the wind, therefore she is also known as “Klitsribbetjies“. Now it is just one more step to the stories which explain why the person did not find rest after death but turned into a ghost. These explanations flourish particularly in the various literary treatments by South African writers who usually mixed memories of their youth, common legend motifs and a good deal of imagination. C. Lous Leipoldt traced Antjie Somers back to the last hanged man of the Dutch East India Company who committed suicide in 1795 when the British conquered the Cape. The poet D.F. Malherbe who in 1922 published a long ballad under the title of “Antjie Somers“, attributed the story to an inauthentic Andries Somers. He described him as a brave young fisherman who in a fight accidentally killed a person and fled in women’s dresses. Long after his death his skull was found and used to frighten away thieves, and the ghost now wants to punish those who disturbed his rest. According to the authoress Miemie Louw-Theron, however, the ghost once was the wife of a Colored shepherd who pushed her down a rock (Grobbelaar 1981:355-358).

Antjie Somers“ for a while became a children”s game in which the main attraction consisted of frightening the playmates. “Antjie Somers“ was the mock name of a person in rags, or, in the days when this fashion started, of a woman wearing trousers. A vagabond in the veldt was referred to as: “an Antjie Somers“.

Many people mentioned extraordinary abilities of Antjie Somers. But bogeys and related beings have more strength than ordinary persons. So like a witch Antjie Somers can make herself invisible or turn herself into a stone or move from place to place with supernatural speed. Some say that she can move so fast because under her heels she has steel springs. And to lead us closer to our legend: Antjie Somers, the bogey, the man in women’s dresses, also may turn invisible and move around with springs under his heels when he is stealing. He is also said to carry a basket with a pistol inside.

There were recollections that Antjie Somers, before she/he became a bogey, had been a historical person. “Many years ago such a thief dressed as a woman is said to have actually lived at Paarl, but one day he was shot by a farmer who surprised him on his cart; his little lodging was found filled up to the ceiling with stolen goods“ (Schonken 1910:23). In addition, there are quite a number of versions that come close to our 19th century European stories: A man, sometimes a doctor, is riding in his horse cart and gives a lift to a frail old woman. But he discovers that she has a beard. He intentionally has his handkerchief or his glove fall down to the ground and asks “her” to pick it up. As soon as “she” has climbed from the car he hastens away. The basket left on the carriage contains two loaded pistols. Several versions were set in the Cape, others in the Transvaal or the Kimberley area. The second group stresses that the driver was a rich person who just had withdrawn money from the bank in the village. There is an interesting variant in which the role of the hero is split: Not the rich farmer but his farmhand riding with him had a strong suspicion that something was wrong with the old woman to whom they had given a lift. The farmhand fakes incompetence at opening the farm gate and has the woman do it. When instead of the tottering woman a strong man ran after their carriage, the young farmhand used the two loaded pistols in the “woman’s“ basket to shoot over the head of the robber. So it was similar to the manner of fairy tales that the young, poor and socially lowest turned out to be the rescuer and the real hero.

Several of these examples collected by Grobbelaar (1981:279-280) were contributions by readers to the popular Afrikaans weeklies or monthlies between 1899 and 1953. We have already noticed that in 19th century Europe our story appeared in papers in England as well as on the continent and probably contributed to the spread and longevity of the legend. But we also have to ascribe the same effect of the printed word on the oral Afrikaans tradition. It kept Antjie Somers alive for such a long period. The obvious fancy motifs of the literary treatments, however, seem to have had no impact on the oral versions.

The South African legend versions remained astonishingly close to the 19th century European tradition. There is one remarkable difference, however: The man in women’s dresses is never recognized by his hands but mainly by his beard. In the old European versions the hairy hands or arms were not compulsory either, as the Silesian text above corroborates, and the beard noticed under the scarf could betray the true identity in the same way. The legend remained about the same, it was Antjie Somers, the bogey, who grew into ever-new dimensions. The character of the bogey easily explains this. Whoever has tried to tame naughty children by a bogey knows the disbelieving eyes that demand more and more additions in order to convince and which challenge the adult’s imagination. So I attribute to the role of the bogey this dazzling variety of characteristics of Antjie Somers. But a comparison of the material shows clearly that the bogey developed out of legend. As soon as we recognize that the 19th century legend that was so well known in South Africa was the starting point we can sort out this puzzle of Antjie Somers.

The basis of our story is the ancient question of being and seeming to be. It is our dread that the object and particularly the person that we have labeled as positive, good, friendly, suddenly might turn into the contrary and even threatens our existence. But this legend with the happy end also gives us relief: The person who watches out and distinguishes between being and seeming to be might overcome the threat. Because of this basic message the legend can take place at present-day’s Mall of Columbus, Ohio as well as on a far-off South African roadside. The remarkable effect of the legend is based on its ability to adapt to the situations and concerns of the audience. It might function to express the simple fears of roadside robbery, of abduction or killing of female victims, or of anonymous gigantic merchant enterprises. And I guess that the “Hairy-Handed Hitchhiker“ will also be able to express the open and hidden fears of our grandchildren’s time.


Bausinger, H., 1958: “Strukturen des alltäglichen Erzählens.“ Fabula 1, 239-254.

- - - 1980: Formen der “Volkspoesie“. Berlin: E. Schmidt.

Brednich, R.W., 1991. Die Spinne in der Yucca-Palme. Sagenhafte Geschichten von heute. München: Beck.

Brunvand, J.H., 1984. The Choking Doberman and Other “New“ Urban Legends. New York / London: Norton.

- - - 1986. The Mexican Pet. More “New“ Urban Legends and Some Old Favorites. New York / London: Norton.

- - 1993. The Baby Train & Other Lusty Urban Legends. New York / London: Norton.

Burger, P., 1992. De wraak van de kangoeroe. Sagen uit het moderne leven. Amsterdam: Prometheus.

Fischer, H., 1991. Der Rattenhund. Sagen der Gegenwart. Köln: Rheinland Verlag / Bonn: Habelt.

Grobbelaar, P.W., 1981. Die Volksvertelling as Kultuuruiting. Met besondere Verwysing na Afrikaans. Stellenbosch: Dlitt. Diss., unpublished.

- - - 1994. Abel Coetzee en sy rubriekWaar die volk skep“. Vroee Afrikaanse Volkskultuur. Stellenbosch: Genootskap vir Afrikaanse Volkskunde.

Grobbeleaar, P.W., Hudson, C, van der Merwe, H., 1977. Boerewysheid. Cape Town: Tafelberg.

Hathaway, R. and Doyle, L., 1999: ““Terror“ (?) at Tuttel Mall, Columbus, Ohio, USA.“ FoafTale News 44: 2-4.

Portnoy, E., 1980. Broodje Aap. De folklore van de post-industriele samenleving. Amsterdam: De Harmonie.

Schonken, F. Th., 1910. Die Wurzeln der Volksüberlieferungen. Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie, Supplement zu Band 19. Leiden.

Smith, P., 1983. The Book of Nasty Legends. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.




2000 Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Conference Abstracts

Compiled by Sandy Hobbs


Mexica, Criolla Or Mestiza? The Genealogy Of The Llorona

Shirley L. Arora

University of California, Los Angeles, USA



In general terms, the history or origin of a contemporary legend (using the term in the broad sense of a legend that “circulates actively at present”) is primarily a scholarly concern, unknown or unknowable to those who circulate the legend and in most instances irrelevant as well. The Hispanic legend of the Llorona, or Weeping Woman, is something of an exception to this generalization, her history and origin having been, for a half century at least, the subject of considerable discussion among folklorists as well as among individual transmitters of the legend who may in many instances have a vested interest in the demonstration of her ancestry. Is she, as some have contended, the direct descendant of a Mexica, or Aztec, deity, said to have been heard wailing in the streets of Tenochtitlan just prior to the arrival of the conquering Spaniards under Cortes? Is she a criolla, born in the New World but of strictly European lineage? Or is she a mestiza, a blend of two heritages like much of the present-day population among whom the legend still circulates?

Along with the origin of the Llorona legend there is considerable debate concerning the not unrelated question of its age. Those who prefer to see the Llorona as the descendant of a Mexica goddess claim an unbroken line of transmission from the time of the conquest (1521) or even earlier. Many published versions of the legend claim that it dates back to colonial times, and one source - the nineteenth-century Mexican writer Gonzalez Obregon - provides a precise date, 1550. Such versions are inevitably “Creole” in nature, that is New World in origin or locale but European in content, with hypothetical links to such Old World legends as the Germanic Weisse Frau but, curiously enough, with no demonstrable ties to the legendry of Spain itself. The mestiza genealogy of the Llorona is in a sense a compromise, involving an effort to identify surviving “native” elements (sometimes of dubious significance, such as “the presence of water” which was “very important” to the Aztecs) while recognizing that the overall content of the legend, in its many manifestations, is much more in keeping with contemporary everyday life than with either Native American or a Colonial past.


Ecotypes, Etiology And Contemporary Legend: The "Webber" Cycle In Western Newfoundland

John Ashton

Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Newfoundland, Canada


This paper will examine a collection of contemporary legend texts from an area of Newfoundland centered on the town of Stephenville and the nearby Port au Port Peninsula and Bay St. George areas.  These stories feature a number of the contemporary legend types identified in J. H. Brunvand's standard "Type Index"(The Baby Train, 1993) but also contain a series of localized elaborations whereby the murders, mutilations and other crimes depicted in the main body of text are attributed to a character locally dubbed "The Webber"; a man with webbed hands and feet, the products of years spent foraging in the woods and living with wild animals.  "The Webber" was involved in an automobile accident as a child, wandering off from the scene and surviving by adapting to the surrounding environment.

The story of "The Webber" exists as a narrative tradition in its own right, confined largely to the Stephenville area, as well as being embedded in the texts of more widely known contemporary legends.  It thus embodies a merging of migratory and local legend traditions.  My paper will provide a detailed description of the "Webber" cycle and discuss its likely provenance and subsequent diffusion.  In particular I will examine the role of local print and broadcast media in the dissemination of these stories.

One of the widely acknowledged features of the contemporary legend genre is its mutability and in particular its exhibition of an invariable tendency towards localization.  However, I will argue that the "Webber" cycle of stories involves more than the mere supplementation of local detail to an otherwise migratory tradition.  By attaching the "Webber" motif to more widely circulated narrative patterns, these stories ground the events that they portray in the local environment and embody the rhetorical function of "regionalization" described by Suzi Jones.  In so doing they point to the utility of Von Sydow's concept of the "Ecotype" for contemporary legend studies.  In addition, by featuring elements that quite pointedly de-urbanize the narrative context of depicted events, the "Webber" stories call into question Brunvand's contentious use of the term "Urban Legend" in discussing this genre.  


"...All That Is Happening In This Life Now Is Going On From The ‘Way Back'...":  A Consideration Of Family, Ethnicity And Region In The Retention Of Belief And Regeneration Of Legend In Carolina Tidewater

Karen Baldwin

East Carolina University, USA


Billboards along Carolina tidewater highways tout vacation and retirement enclaves fronting the region's rivers, shallow sounds, and dredged deepwater canals.  Variously named Plimoth Plantation, First Colony, Roanoke Downs, and Virginia Dare Estates, the enclave monikers intend to work semantic transformative magic on real estate realities. The irony is that quite genuine British-based folk traditions persist throughout Carolina tidewater since the 17th century incursions from Jamestown's arena.  African-Caribbean-based traditions also are widespread in the region, well steeped in time, although likely violently displaced and transformed by their bearers' need to survive slavery.  Families with Anglo-European and African-Caribbean backgrounds have lived in Carolina tidewater for multiple generations, 250 to 400 years.  As a result, extended families and kin-networked communities are of primary social and cultural importance in maintaining the content and performance of this region's legend and other belief-based expressive forms.

Folklorists have noted continuities and changes in both Anglo-European and African-Caribbean traditions as they migrated and resettled in the United States.  While the stories of the British traditional ballads remain similar, supernatural elements are characteristically replaced by Christian moralizing in the process of "Americanization."  Not so with some other belief-based forms that immigrated with British folks as early as the 1600s.  Wayland Hand notes that the family-based customs of "telling the bees" of family deaths and weddings before the ceremonies take place, and "setting a dumb supper" to predict a marriage mate retain elements of ghostlore and the supernatural. In fact, a strong current of supernatural belief-based narratives commingles streams of belief and practice from both Anglo-European and African-Caribbean sources.

Ghost light sightings and forewarnings of death, successful recovery and "taming" of "wild" money, and narratives derived from family members setting dumb supper--all are told, by young adults and elders, through the region. Examination of textual elements in these contemporary tellings clearly suggests that, at least for these currents of legend tradition, private, family spheres of performance in a region where kin communities have been established for so long, are crucial to retention of belief and regeneration of legends which speak "in this life now ... from the 'way back'..."


Toronto Trinidadian Obeah: Traditional Legend Or Contemporary Tradition?

Gary Butler

York University, Canada


The term contemporary legend implies at least one dichotomy - that between the present and the past. This poses a problem when the term is considered from a purely performance perspective for, in such terms, any legend is contemporary at the time it is communicated. However, this apparent contradiction between content and temporal context may be resolved without too much difficulty by employing a perspective based on the cross-generational evolution of the cultural relevance of legendary material. This perspective allows the same legend to be both traditional and contemporary, depending on how the individual is situated with regards to such belief narratives.

This paper will examine the legendary narratives based on the Caribbean tradition of supernatural obeah, a variety of shamanistic witchcraft, in the contemporary Toronto Trinidadian community. Its aim is to investigate what happens to this belief system as its adherents move from their traditional, primarily rural context to a quite different urban-industrial context in Canada. To demonstrate the transformation which takes place, legendary narrative material collected from several generations of Trinidadian Canadians, some born in Toronto, others born in Trinidad and immigrating to Toronto as adults, will be examined. And, while the context of the various texts will be examined for evidence of substantive change, this paper will also deal with the attitudes of different generations towards the tradition, their interpretation of its significance, and how these differences are manifested during the course of conversational interaction. As such, this paper examines the cognitive, affective and expressive dimensions of this narrative complex.


Is The Legend A Meme?

David Cornwell

University of Strathclyde, Scotland

Sandy Hobbs

University of Paisley, Scotland


Richard Dawkins, first proposed the concept of a “meme” in his book The Selfish Gene (1976), as a cultural equivalent to the gene. Although described rather casually in the thirteen page final chapter of Dawkins's book, the term has met with some success. Sampling the World Wide Web on 29 August 1998, Dawkins found 5042 mentions of the adjectival form "memetic".  A number of books have been devoted to the meme, most notably Susan Blackmore's The Meme Machine  (1999), which includes a Foreword by Dawkins.

Setting out to explain what a meme is, Blackmore starts with an urban legend, The Microwaved Pet.  This raises a possibility for contemporary legend scholarship. If the meme is indeed as useful a concept in understanding cultural phenomena as the gene is in the study of biology, it may be a means by which  the study of legends becomes integrated with  other important categories of human behavior. Blackmore addresses such major issues as the origins of language, altruism, religion and the concept of an inner self. However, she does not deal with urban legends in a systematic way and makes no reference to urban legend scholarship.

In this paper, we offer a critical assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the concept of a meme as currently presented. In particular, we consider whether contemporary legend research may benefit from the inclusion of the meme as an analytical category.


The Good Luck Coin And Other Sporting Superstitions: An Examination Of Folk Belief In Football

Sheila Douglas

Scone, Scotland


Taking as a starting point one example, namely the good luck coin carried by former player and now football manager, I... M..., I propose to look at different aspects of the belief that an object, garment or customary ritual can bring good luck to a practitioner of sport or even a whole team. The object may have no connection with the sport, like a coin, or it may be some part of the sports equipment of the player that has been used on an occasion when the person or team was successful. This latter can be a garment that may or may not be part of the dress for the sport, and it can be connected with a ritual that involves putting on that particular garment at a particular juncture or at a particular spot, for example, at the last minute, before the player steps on to the field, as if it had some transforming power attached to it.

Rituals seem to be very individual and based on something that the particular person associates with a sequence of events that culminated in success in the past. These rituals may have a positive or negative force; that is, they may involve either doing something, like wearing a particular shirt or boots or eating a particular food on the day of the match or coming onto the field last, or not doing something, like not shaving or having sex for several days before a match. Some of the actions that bring good luck seem themselves dependent on chance, like passing a wedding on the way to the fixture. Not many teams would go so far as to adopt the practice of an African team which employed a witch doctor to put a curse on the opposing side.

I will show that belief in good luck charms has a universal precedent that is always concerned with success and that those who share this belief may not necessarily be superstitious in other areas of their life. The prime example will be compared and contrasted with others collected from members of different teams, and conclusions drawn about the psychological basis for the practice. In particular I will try to discover how a balance is struck between the knowledge that the outcome of a match depends on skill and the feeling that luck is needed in order to win, because of the pressure of competition.


"Gie Her A Haggis!": The Haggis As Food, Legend And Popular Culture

Joy Fraser

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada


This paper examines the role of the haggis in the productions of the Scottish culinary, tourism and cultural industries.  In the run-up to Burns’ Night, supermarket shelves are stocked with haggis of several brands, each made to a slightly different recipe, including the recently concocted vegetarian haggis.  One Edinburgh restaurant has even claimed to serve “freshly caught” haggis.  Elsewhere, one can purchase “haggis dolls” (often packaged like their culinary counterparts in tins) or even “genuine haggis eggs”.  On the internet, players of the game “Haggis Culler” are instructed to “reduce the Haggi population” using a “special Haggi-Gun”, while those who find such violence distasteful have the option of joining the online “Save Haggis in Trouble” campaign.  Thus, as Clarissa Dickson Wright remarks, “[the] haggis has been the subject of much ridicule and endless bad jokes.  Scotland abounds with picture postcards of humanized haggis, or three-legged haggis being hunted through the heather” .  In her recent autobiography no lesser celebrity than Nessie herself complains that “a genuine lady like myself tends to get lumped into the same category as flying haggis”.

So how exactly has haggis come to occupy such diverse cultural roles?  As Maisie Stevens puts it, “Why is it that this, of all Scottish dishes, should have so caught the imagination not only of tourists but of countless others…?” This paper addresses this issue by considering the interrelationships between the haggis as ethnic foodstuff, as legendary creature, and as popular culture phenomenon.  In each of these manifestations, the haggis has generated a considerable amount of expressive culture and narrative material, ranging from Burns’ “Address to the Haggis” (1787) and etiological accounts concerning the origins of edible haggis, to the tall tales and pseudo personal experience narratives surrounding the “legendary haggis”.  As adopted by popular culture media, including newspapers, comic books and radio, this legend material is frequently transmuted from tall tale to joke form, and the process of commodification also shapes it.  In all its manifestations, however, I argue that the haggis acts as a vehicle for the (often humorous) expression of a Scottish identity which hinges upon the appropriation of stereotype.  I examine the typical characteristics and behaviors of the haggis as legendary creature in order to illustrate its status as a nexus around which are clustered multiple stereotypes of Scottishness – most noticeably tartan, bagpipes, heather, hills and whisky.  I consider the nature and extent of variation between the accounts, examining in particular which elements are emphasized, which de-emphasized, and which neutered in marketing the haggis to a popular audience.


The Contemporary Legend: A Search For Method

Mark Glazer

University of Texas-Pan American, USA


In recent years numerous urban legends and rumors have been collected and discussed among folklorists and by scholars who work on rumor studies. A review of the literature shows that most of these studies have been conducted without any systematic effort to collect primary materials about the topic in a given geographical area. In some ways, many of these studies are more akin to literary analysis than any type of systematic social science research because most of these studies are based on secondary data and published materials.

The goal of this paper is to test the hypothesis that a systematic survey of urban legends will lead to important information about the teller and the social context of these narratives. With this purpose in mind the narratives which are the basis for this paper were collected with a questionnaire entitled, "The Contemporary Legend Information Sheet." This survey includes questions on demographic and contextual information as well as on the contemporary legends themselves. This process has resulted in a collection of 846 versions of urban legends in the Lower Rio Grande valley of Texas.

The four major types of contemporary legends in this collection are: 1) ) “Food Contamination” stories: 92 versions (10.9% of the total), 2) Versions of the “Vanishing Hitchhiker”: 76 versions (9.0% of the total), 3) A.I.D.S. related narratives: 75 versions (9.0% of the total), and 4) “Stolen Body Part” legends: 71 versions (8.4% of the total). This adds up to 314 legends or 37.0% of the total.

I would like to give a few preliminary examples of the kind of information which has resulted from this survey by using “The Vanishing Hitchhiker” as a case in point.  For this legend we find that 96% of the respondents are Hispanic. Furthermore we find that 56.6% of the respondents are male and 43.4% are female. Keeping this in mind, we find that the most common context for men to tell the story is while “talking” (32.6% of the sample), while for women the most common context for telling this legend is a “story telling” session (45.5% of the sample).

This paper is attempted to study contemporary legends in one given area through systematic research. The paper will demonstrate how this type of research and analysis based on a combination of legend materials and contextual information can lead to new insights in folklore studies.


Comprehending Emerging Illnesses: Lay Activism, Product Contamination And Popular Science

Diane E. Goldstein

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada


This paper will focus on a corpus of contemporary contamination rumors that warn of links between common household products or food items and serious emerging on re-emerging illnesses.  In the past year consumer panics have surfaced focusing on connections between the use of antiperspirants and breast cancer, Costa Rican bananas and nicrotizing faciltis (flesh-eating bacteria) feline flea collars and multiple sclerosis, and the association of a particular tampon brand with immune deficient diseases.  These health consumer panics are presented in the narratives as a form of lay activism and as a community response to collusion between manufacturers, importers, government and health care.

This paper will explore popular scientific constructions of emerging health threats contained in contamination narratives.  Initial research suggests that the lay exploration of emerging illnesses incorporated in narrative accounts of these rumors provides a valuable resource for accessing lay health worldview and popular science.  Contemporary health legends concerning themes such as contaminated products, organ transplant black markets, medical experimentation and health conspiracies circulate constantly, affecting health care choices and attitudes toward illness, disease and medical institutions.  While research in the social sciences has increasingly stressed the cultural construction of health and illness and the critical importance of an adequate understanding of lay health beliefs and practices, researchers continuously debate the utility of models developed to access vernacular health belief.  These debates have prompted an exploration of the use of illness narratives as a natural form for articulating the meanings and values associated with health, illness and suffering, within specific individual and cultural contexts.  The generic material that generally supports these efforts is usually based on personal experience narrative.  This study will explore the usefulness of legend as a form for the expression of health values, concerns, and explanatory models.

The current paper will explore ten to twenty accounts of each narrative which will be analyzed according to:  concepts of disease process and etiology; bodily "geographies" which account for contamination understanding; notions of toxicity, carcinogens and risk; popular understandings of contemporary medical language and concepts; and, vernacular explanatory models for new, emergent, re-emergent, unexplained and devastating illness.  The paper will also explore vernacular absorption of environmental risk activist messages and the correlation of "new" products with "new" illnesses.


"Well, Apparently Men Can Lactate": The Mongering Of A Rumour

Jessica Grant

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada


"Are you daft?!" was just one of the many responses that I received with regards to my queries about lactating men. People have laughed, given me bewildered looks, and just generally joked about the subject. And indeed, when I was first introduced to the subject, I reacted in very similar fashions. Yet, my curiosity was piqued. And so, I embarked on a mission to discover the "truth" about male lactation. Through an examination of medical journals, I was able to label such a physiological phenomenon with its scientific name, galactorrhea.  Through an examination of folklore motif indices, I was able to determine analogues, linking male lactation to stories involving male pregnancy, the couvade, breastfeeding men, and abnormal lactation (including lactating children, breastfeeding virgins and menopausal milk mothers). After separately tracing the scientific and folkloric "proofs" for male lactation, I decided to thrust these "proofs" together. The contentious combination that followed seems to be just a minute debacle in an ongoing battle between science and folklore, between what is "real," what is "true," what is "proof." Mermen, transforming frogs, werewolves, sea monsters, vampires, bosom serpents, lactating men are just a few of the issues being dissected and shredded in this struggle of "proofs."  And a folklorist stands somewhere in the midst of that torrential argument with hopes of mediation.

Essentially, this paper follows the muddles, the paradoxes, and the contradictions of the research process of a folklorist-in-training. As I initially set out to uncover the "truth" about male lactation, I was very much focused on the mendacity or veracity of such a subject. I was out to debunk or to verify, depending upon what "proofs" I uncovered. Yet, as I accumulated the scientific "proofs," I soon began to recognize that the emphasis which I was placing upon "rational" and "logical" thought only emphasized my scientific prejudice and medical bias.  I eventually realized that there were also "proofs" to be found in folklore and that these folkloric "proofs" were as equally valid as the scientific ones. And, as I shifted my focus away from the scientific, I began to better comprehend the role of the folklorist in the swirling eddies of debates surrounding "folk" medicine and "scientific" medicine, in the contentious interplay between the "rational" and the "irrational." Ultimately, I determined that my initial objective to uncover the "truth" was not the point at all - truth seems to be reductionist by its very nature. The point is to recognize the rationality of the "irrational" and sometimes just forget the "proofs" and enjoy the speculations. The truth may set you free, but it is the mystery that keeps you going.


E-Traditions Following The Fatal Collapse Of The Texas A&M University Aggie Bonfire

Sylvia Grider, Texas A&M University, and

Linsey Oates Binn College, Bryan, Texas, USA


The defining tradition at Texas A&M University is building and lighting a massive, fifty-foot-high Aggie Bonfire before the annual football game with the arch-rival University of Texas Longhorns. This tradition started in 1909, and has been re-enacted annually with only a few exceptions. As the date for lighting the bonfire approaches each year, the students work around the clock in what is known as "Push". On November 18, 1999, at approximately 2.30 a.m., without warning, the massive center pole supporting the bonfire snapped and the four-storey stack of thousands of logs collapsed, crush to death twelve Aggies under millions of pounds of logs and injuring over twenty-five other students.

Not only the University, but also the immediate community and the rest of the state woke in horror to news of the tragedy. By daylight, the media had spread news of the disaster throughout the world. Within hours of the removal of the last body from the mass of collapsed logs, students and community members began bringing floral tributes and other memorabilia and placing them on the security fence which was erected by authorities around the accident site. The creation of this spontaneous shrine was consistent with public behavior following such events as the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, the death of princess Diana, and the shootings at Columbine High School.

Because the local telephone lines were jammed with calls, people on both ends of the communication turned to the Internet to try and reach their friends and families. So many e-mails were sent and received in the hours after the accident that the main server at Texas A&M University crashed. Many of these e-mails were the harbinger of another distinctive tradition which emerged after the bonfire incident. In what can only be called an expression of "e-tradition", correspondents began to forward to one another a series of narratives about the accident. Based on e-mails we received and on collections made by friends and colleagues, we have organized a preliminary classification of these e-messages, including legends, chain letters or prayer chains, true statements which were disbelieved, and a wide variety of anecdotes, including one popular narrative which developed a joke-like structure and also was circulated in oral tradition.

Folklorists and other social scientists have long recognized that e-mail has changed the communication conduit of many previously oral genres. Stories which were within the purview of oral tradition are now found more commonly as forwarded and/or amended e-mails. Although the degree of variation in these e-narratives is less fluid than in oral tradition, the e-narratives nevertheless become traditional by virtue of their context and widespread transmission. The e-mails of "e-traditions" which circulated following the Bonfire accident constitute a data set which confirms that the internet is a viable communication conduit for traditional narrative materials.


Sang, Sperme Et Suer: Contemporary Legend And The Theatre Of Grand Guignol

Richard Hand and Michael Wilson

University of Glamorgan, Wales


Between 1897 and 1963 in a little theatre down a dark alleyway in Pigalle, the Parisian red-light district, violent acts of great intensity were staged for the delights of the audiences who flocked there. This was the Grand-Guignol, a theatre of horror, where audiences regularly fainted as actors were stabbed, burned, disemboweled and mutilated - sometimes three times a night - in an addictive orgy of ‘sang, sperme et suer’ (blood, sperm and sweat).

The Grand Guignol began life as an avant-garde experiment in Zola-derived naturalism, growing directly out of Antoine’s Théâtre Libre, but within a few years had become recognized for its staged horror with its sleight of hand and special effects. However, the defining characteristic of the Grand Guignol was not simply the blend of violence and eroticism. There was a third, equally important, ingredient: comedy. A typical evening at the Grand Guignol might comprise of five one-act plays, three horrors, interspersed with two comedies, usually sex farces, parodying bourgeois manners.

The Grand Guignol is currently undergoing a re-evaluation by scholars and this paper seeks to explore the links between the plays staged there and emerging contemporary legends during the twentieth century. It is interesting note that both concern themselves with the not altogether contradictory emotions of horror and humor, blended with a healthy dose of eroticism. Furthermore, the Grand-Guignol and contemporary legends trade on the contemporary fears and anxieties of twentieth-century society and it is, therefore, not entirely surprising that the plays staged at the Grand-Guignol abound with escaped psychopaths, compromising situations and the horrors of unfettered technology.


Contemporary Legend And Film: A Structural Consideration

Mikel J. Koven

University of Wales, Aberystwyth


With the 1998 release of the film Urban Legend, and its screening at the 1999 ISCLR conference, it is time for a reconsideration of the relationship between Contemporary Legends and film versions of those legends. In Smith and Hobbs’ 1990 ‘Films Using Contemporary Legend Themes/Motifs,’ the authors do not distinguish between those films whose primary narrative source materials pertain to contemporary legendry and those films that utilize a single motif within their diegesis. This current study examines the former – films which are based on legends, or whose narrative source materials are derived primarily from the oral tradition.

The kinds of popular cinema I am exploring in this paper utilize legend materials in two primary ways: one approach takes a single legend and brings it to the screen as a developed narrative. These films primarily use only a single legend narrative and ‘flesh it out’ across a full ninety minutes or two hours. Although occasionally some of these ‘Single Narrative Films,’ as I have labeled them, may fuse together other legend narratives, or make reference to other legends, it is the primacy of a single legend text that places them within this category. Films under consideration within this category include Alligator (alligators in the sewers), When a Stranger Calls (the babysitter and the man upstairs), The Harvest (organ thefts), Dead Man on Campus and Dead Man’s Curve (both roommate’s suicide means 4.0 GPA).

The other approach filmmakers utilize is what I have termed the ‘Multi-Narrative’ approach: these are film narratives that fuse together different legends. Within this category there are two sub-categories, both of which demonstrate yet further filmic narrative strategies. On the one hand is the ‘Fusion Film’: films that fuse together many different legend narratives, like the aforementioned Urban Legend. The other filmic strategy is the ‘Anthology Film’, which treats each of the legends told as distinct narrative units, often held together by a diegetic ‘framing narrative’. And in the case of Campfire Tales, one that even demonstrates a high degree of verisimilitude to story telling situations.

This consideration of the narrative structure of dramatized contemporary legends in popular cinema is intended to set up an analytical schema for further discussion on this subject.


"Incredibile, Tam Verum": Legendary Interactions Between Dolphins And Humans

Henrik R. Lassen

University of Southern Denmark


Some time in the middle of the first century A.D., Pliny the Younger started a letter to his poet friend Caminius Rufus with the following preamble:

I have come across a true story which sounds very like a fable, and ought to be a suitable subject for your abundant talent to raise to the height of poetry. I heard it over the dinner table when various marvelous tales were being circulated, and I had it on good authority - though I know that doesn't really interest poets. However, it was one which even a historian might well have trusted. (Letter XXXIII, Book IX)

The story which Pliny goes on to relate in graphic detail is one of many classical accounts of a dolphin befriending humans. Versions and variants of the same story (concerning a series of incidents in a lagoon by the Roman colony of Hippo on the coast of Africa) can be found in a number of classical sources, along with a few other, quite similar accounts of dolphins who appear to have almost fallen in love with particular humans, typically young boys.

In the modern world, a few such encounters have, of course, been widely publicized (notably the case of Opu the dolphin, New Zealand, 1955-56), and especially in the 1990s we have seen a widespread popular interest in the alleged healing powers of dolphin encounters, sometimes in the form of therapy involving "domesticated" dolphins in captivity, but in some cases also in the form of regular meetings between human beings and dolphins in their natural habitat.

In this paper, I shall examine a number of stories relating close encounters between humans and dolphins specifically from a contemporary legend perspective. This in order to reexamine the relationship between legend and belief through an investigation of the changing attitudes to the truth-value of, particularly, the classical stories through antiquity and the middle ages, as expressed both directly and indirectly by way of narrative framing.


Simply Surprised: Some Social Dimensions Of Nudity In Legend

Carl Lindahl

University of Houston, U.S.A.


Legendry has long thrived on situations in which the most private acts, performed in seeming solitude, are suddenly exposed to a public glare.  Among the most popular twentieth-century twists on this theme is the legend of "The Surpriser Surprised," subject of a major study by W.H. Jansen, in which he isolated three subtypes according to the formalistic criteria of the Historical-Geographic school and speculated at length on the psychological implications of the symbolic content of the variants.  Yet Jansen's study implies a good deal more than it concludes concerning the social contexts and functions of these tales.  Following these contextualizing cues, I have rearranged his variants according to chronological and generic schemes.  In this paper I present the results of those findings and relate "The Surpriser Surprised" to a newer legend, "Peanut Butter Surprise," which, I believe, has taken some of the roles of its predecessor in a changing social environment.

When Jansen's texts are arranged chronologically, two patterns emerge.  The first concerns the tellers' and listeners' responses to the nude person surrounding by an equally shocked, but clothed, audience.  In the earlier variants the nude figure is a young, monogamous woman, who has saved her virginity for a special private moment with the man she wishes to many.  When the lights come on this most sacred act becomes a festival of public shame to which listeners react in horror.  In later versions, the nude is a philandering husband, whose exposure is regarded as just punishment for his deceit and often greeted with laughter.

The second pattern, directly related to the first, concerns genre.  When the teller and audience sympathize with the victim, we tell this tale as a legend, but when we regard the victim as justly punished, the narrative tends to be told as a joke.  This phenomenon reaffirms what Linda Dégh observed in her study of "The Belief Legend in Modern Society":  many narratives labeled legends by folklorists assume the traits of jokes. As I have argued elsewhere, most of the legends labeled by Brunvand as "urban legends" are studied and performed in ways that makes them closer to jokes than to legends.  "The Surpriser Surprised," then has changed generic status in response to major social forces, which folklorists have to some extent manipulated.

The closest current cognate to "The Surpriser Surprised" is "Peanut Butter Surprise", an account of a woman caught in the act of sexual intimacy with her dog.  Presenting variants collected by Elissa R. Henken and myself, I argue that "Peanut Butter Surprise" blends elements of both the major "Surpriser Surprised" versions, but persist sas a legend through its troubling effect of its audiences. The may in which this latest "naked" legend alters the content and focus of its predecessors reveals much about perceptions of nudity and sexuality in contemporary society.


Ghost Pilots In The Sky: Phantom Aircraft Of The Thirties

Bodil Nildin-Wall and Jan Wall

SOFI, Uppsala, Sweden


Between 1933 and 1937 strange phenomena were reported from the northernmost parts of the Nordic countries. Tales of foreign unidentified airplanes came pouring into newspapers and local authorities. At first only strong lights were reported but after a while tales were coupling lights with sounds of an engine. Later on the planes themselves were sighted.

The initial spottings were made during the first half of December 1933 and were brought to the notice of a local newspaper on December 12th. It was reported that every day towards the evening an airplane landed on a mountain plateau in the wilds. Shortly afterwards it took off again and circled the mountain for about half an hour while scanning the ground with a strong searchlight.

The news reached other newspapers and the radio. Most articles were skeptical. Why should a plane behave in such a mysterious way night after night? Did a planet or the Northern Lights cause the strong light? During the following week various new reports came from the same area. A shining light in the sky and sounds from an engine were heard.

In 1933 Prohibition had recently been abolished in the USA. In Sweden strong liquor was severely rationed; consequently bootlegging was common along the coasts. Ships carried large amounts of illegal booze that was brought ashore by smaller vessels and distributed for sale. People in the northern provinces were convinced that the mysterious aircraft - now commonly known as the Ghost Pilot - was bootlegging.

During Christmas the Ghost Pilot was especially active. Authorities were demanding that the Air Force be brought in. At the same time the police who had been handling the affair started to realize that it would hardly be a lucrative business to smuggle liquor in an airplane. So what was smuggled? Silk, spices, pornography, cocaine or weapons were suggested.

Now rumors of international arms smugglers that had their ships lying off Scotland were rife. Did private gangs have the resources to build fuel depots in Swedish Lappland? Who needed such amounts of arms in the Swedish inland? It had to be foreign powers! Were weapons brought in for the use of Swedish and Norwegian communists? Could it be espionage? Newspapers put the theories forward. The Ghost Pilot came from Soviet Russia. Other newspapers described him as German.

The Ghost Pilot was especially busy during January 1934 when reports came from a large number of places. Then he disappeared. IN November, however, he returned. Mysterious radio signals meant for the Ghost Pilot were recorded. Once again he was supposed to come from Soviet Russia and his mission was to spy out secret defenses and map railways. In a state of war between Germany and Russia, the Russians was launch a surprise attack and occupy the northern parts of Norway and Sweden in order to stop Germany from getting control of Swedish ore-mines. By the end of 1937, there were two established theories: the Soviet Union was guilty of espionage; or there was a mass psychosis coupled with certain German activities.

Military history research has later established the Ghost Pilot as real and coming from a large nation in the geopolitical zone surrounding the Scandinavian Shield. For a while suspicions of Great Britain were entertained but abandoned. Germany and Russia were left. According to the researchers most evidence pointed towards Germany. The conclusion is partly due to the fact that a “mine” had been placed.

We are of a different opinion...


Internet-Lore: The Cognitive Imagination Of Our Times

Marlena Ryl and

Michal Derda-Nowakowski

University of Silesia, Poland


We have already researched internet-lore issues for a few years, with the main focus on the sphere of the conspirational theory of history accompanying the ever-increasing presence of advanced technologies in everyday reality. The WWW, Usenet, IRC channels, BBS and ICQ services are realms where everything and anything can meet. This potentiality and ease offers possibilities, as yet unprecedented in the whole of human history, of exchanging data by the individual disconnected from any corporation, publishing house, university or any other educational institution as well as from the government organization promoting his or her thought. On the net, however, the dominant feeling is that of community rather than private freedom and singularity.

Not only does the Internet community boast of its own code of honor, but it also shares common heroes and problems. Consequently, the participant of any non-commercial Internet activity is incessantly witnessing the mythological COMMON. This happens, for instance, in the research programme SETI, where one achieves the quasi-missionary consciousness of forming a part of the largest programme of diffused computing that none of the currently used supercomputers can deal with. The Internet community's area of interest is not limited solely to the kind of technological sharing described above. In fact, it is predominantly tangible in the peculiar net mythology (from the cyberpunk and hackering issues to the non-ideological problems concerning the freedom of the speech on the net and the data security), often transforming into the conspirational theory of the net.

One could argue that it is precisely on the Net that the present-day enclave of the authentic folklore is to be found, the folklore neither belonging to the realm of cultural heritage, nor expressive of the ideology of political correctness. It may well be the last authentic folklore within the Western civilization, the whole rest not deserving this name anymore. Additionally, the net preserves what has traditionally formed part of any folklore communication: the oral tradition.

We will try to prove that the world of the net texts ASCII (mainly Usenet and IRC and also, to a certain extent, the sphere of WWW) meets the criterion of oral communication both in its metaphorical and cognitive aspects. Also, we have to do here with the visual folklore (especially in the case of Microsoft iconography). What has definitely been preserved in the whole of Internet communication is the distinctive quality of multiplicity that sets any folklore apart from the literary creation. What we mean here is the multiplicity of the various threads and underplots appearing on the net at the same time as a result of the ceaseless semiosis triggered by the given proto-story or a discourse paradigm (being not yet a story as such but expressive of a strong conviction characterized by the mythologizing features).

To illustrate the ideas explored in the paper, a video film recorded by the authors straight from the computer screen will accompany the presentation. The film is largely the record of the phenomena involved in the Internet-lore within the Polish context as contrasted with its main, English-dominated realm. As a result we present specifically Polish phenomena with an emphasis on their global character.

In our paper we aim to decide to what an extent the new folklore genres gathered under the general label of Internet-lore constitute the continuation of the old and tradition-sanctioned mythologizing tales. Or is it better to talk about the folklore-like situation? Let's try yet another term: the cognitive imagination, which allows us to abandon the old methodological habits.


Miracle Of The Virgin And Orthodoxy In Syria: Reconstructing History For Community Unification

Noriko Sato

Grey College, Durham, England


The Syrian Orthodox Christians in the town of al-Malkiya in northeastern Syria is concerned with how they can differentiate themselves from the rest of the population and at the same time enforce their own unity so that they can deal with contemporary problems. Such concern is related to their fears that:

(1) The Kurds who have dominated these Christians for over eighty years are rapidly increasing their population, whereas the Christian population has been decreasing over the last twenty-five years due to emigration;

(2) The quasi-Christian groups, such as “the Brethren” and “the Jehovah’s Witnesses”, have made some local converts, and this has led to divisions in the Christian community.

In order to halt its decline, it is reviving and reconstructing its history.

Formerly, these Christians lived in Bazbdi in southeastern Turkey. However, when the Kurds attacked them in 1915, the Christians retreated into a quarter of the town of Azakh. The Kurds besieged the quarter, but when they heard the sound of gunfire coming from the church of the Virgin Mary, they withdrew their troops, assuming that the Christians had an armed force there. This was untrue, and so gave rise to the belief that the Virgin, not allowing the evil act of the Kurds, saved their community. In the 1960s, when the Christians in al-Malkiya were moving out of their old residential quarter, due to Kurdish population pressure, a miracle was said to take place that olive oil sprung out of the church grounds prevented the officials from demolishing the church of the Virgin. This conveys the notion that these Christians are under the patronage of the Virgin Mary, and so can resist Kurdish aggression. That “the grace of God” was shown to these Christians in the history also provides them with a strategy for separating themselves from the other quasi-Christian sects, which deny the Trinity and Mary’s existence as an eternal virgin.

The belief that God is on their side, shown by the miracles, gives credence to the belief that they are different from the rest of the Christian sects and, most of all the Kurds. Therefore, the Christians use this reconstructed history as a means of creating unity in response to contemporary problems.


Talking Fear: The Claremont Killer And Contemporary Legend

Graham Seal

Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia


The "Claremont Killer" is a serial murderer who has terrorized a well-heeled area of suburban Perth in Western Australia from 1996. At the time of writing these crimes are still unsolved and have also occasioned the largest and longest-lasting police investigation ever mounted in Australia. As well as providing another example of the power of contemporary legend, this brief study also highlights the way in which the police communicated with the Perth community and, rather than allaying their fears, made them worse.

The killings began on the night of January 27, 1996, when young, blonde Sarah Speirs disappeared from a Claremont nightspot. She has never been seen since. On June 9, 1996, Jane Rimmer disappeared from the same area. The police found her buried body in August 1996. On March 15, 1997, Ciara Glennon disappeared from Claremont. On April 3 the body of Ciara Glennon was discovered accidentally, about 40 kilometers north of the city.

The police, despite allocation of massive resources, public and private, and the use of British and FBI operatives and a range of new forensic techniques, including DNA testing, have not found Sarah Speirs - now presumed dead - or arrested anyone for the murders of the other two women. Since the murder of Jane Rimmer, the police have worked on the assumption that there is a "serial murderer" involved, now dubbed "the Claremont Killer".

These events generated an invisible but very real could of fear in the city of Perth. Unfortunately, rather than alleviating that fear, the action of the authorities, in particular those of the police, made matters worse throughout the community over 1996 and 1997. Since then the police have named an individual over whom they keep a 24-hour watch. The man has not been arrested. Since the surveillance began there have been no further murders.

The paper documents these extraordinary circumstances and the community panic they occasioned and the concern they continue to generate. It also makes some specific suggestions about how knowledge of the folkloric processes involved in such situations might be used to alleviate, even avoid, the kind of fear that gripped the people of Perth as a result of these events. The paper also raises the question of the role of the folklorist in the broader community outside the academy.


Debating The Undead: Vampiric Narratives In Late Twelfth Century England

Jacqueline Simpson

Worthing, England


William of Newburgh, a monastic historian writing in 1198, includes four narratives about physical revenants and the means taken to lay them, these being allegedly true events occurring within the previous two years. These stories do get mentioned in modern studies on the development of beliefs about the dead, but only in summary form. A more detailed analysis of the way William presents and authenticates the narratives, and the comments which he himself makes or reports others as making, shows that tales and rumors about the Undead were widespread at the time. Such revenants were perceived as endangering communities by bringing disease, and there were indications in William’s narrative that panics were occurring. He regarded this as a new phenomenon. One can also see in these accounts that though nobody contested the reality of the threat, there was disagreement on its precise nature and on how to counter it, partly between lay folk and clerics, but also between clerics themselves. Should the Undead corpse be burnt, or absolved from its sins? The narratives turn on this debate, showing that for the majority burning is the preferred solution; William expresses respect for one bishop who conferred absolution instead, but clearly approves of the burners.

Though anomalous in the general context of medieval theology about death (and contrasting sharply with another set of medieval English narratives about ghostly encounters some 200 years later), the stories circulating in William’s time reveal attitudes which echo both archaeological testimony from earlier centuries and the persisting vampiric tradition in parts of Europe.


Black Helicopter As A Symbol Of Fear In Contemporary American Folklore

Alasdair Spark

King Alfred's College, Winchester, England


This paper will examine the mysterious sightings of black helicopters which numbers of Americans claim to have seen flying over the rural United States in recent years. In popular legend these craft are asserted to be proof of the so-called "New World Order" conspiracy, part of a complex global plot to take over America.  The following posting to the Internet newsgroup alt.conspiracy is typical:

Recently I have noticed military looking helicopters painted black, flying around my town during the late evening and night. We have no Army bases close by, and everyone is talking about how they (the helicopters) are part of some New World Order group training up here, because of the seclusion (central Wyoming). Does this activity ring a bell with anyone? (Posted by 'Jennifer' to the internet newsgroup alt.conspiracy, Nov 17, 1996)

What bells does this ring?  First of all, clearly the "black helicopter" is not just restricted to rural conspiracy fantasies, despite the term becoming shorthand for the runaway imagination to which members of American militia groups have become prone in the past decade.  The Black helicopter has a wider provenance in contemporary folklore as a symbol of power, authority, threat and fear.  For this reason, it has also become prominent in popular TV series such as The X-Files and in movies such as Conspiracy Theory and Enemy of the State, and the image of the prowling helicopter has become a commonplace.

Therefore, my interest is in what is being seen  - I do not believe these sightings are imaginary; why then are sightings of actual and mundane helicopters - military, police, traffic, news - interpreted like this; and what might therefore be the real meaning of this phenomenon?  Overall, I would stress that rather than depreciate the imagination at work here, I feel it reveals powerfully the important ability of popular folklore to plug into important, genuine and meaningful concerns about issues and social concerns.

To explain this phenomenon, first of all, there is a clear link to the Vietnam War, and to the symbolic association of this technology with that unpopular and deceptive War.  Following Vietnam, the very real capabilities of the helicopter to target populations with gun or camera came home, and to a significant extent law enforcement has become ñ as Mike Davis has pointed out - "Vietnamized."  The helicopter presents a real technology of policing and control via tracking, surveillance and this can be seen most obviously over the African-American ghettos of the USA, and it is not surprising therefore that helicopters have become a powerful component in black movies and Rap music.  However, this begs a question: it is easy to see why an inner city African-American population might regard the helicopter as threatening and symbolically loaded, but why should a rural and predominantly white population do likewise?  In fact, this is not the first time the helicopter has gained this status, and the current black helicopter stories are in many ways a continuation of similar tales told in the 1970s, in which cattle mutilations and biological testing figured strongly, and which later became a central part of UFO folklore.  Exploring this continuity, we can see that the answers lie, I think, first of all in a legitimate fear of this powerful technology, but secondly, examining its hypertrophic articulation, in a sort of "wannabee" victimhood that seeks to put back at the centre of events a rural population which feels neglected, which feels that America no longer belongs to or represents their wishes and desires. As such, their representation as agents of a conspiracy in which the Federal Government itself is seen as a prime mover is no accident.


Emo, Joe Palooka, And The Angel: Statuary, Cemetery Legends, And Gender

Jeannie Thomas,

Utah State University, USA


This paper is a continuation of my on‑going examination of legends told in the United States about gravemarkers and cemetery statues; however, it looks at depictions of men in cemetery legends and statues.  My earlier work‑‑including a paper given at ISCLR in 1997‑‑has focused on statues of women in cemeteries and the legends told about some of these statues.  This focus came about not only because I am interested in gender and feminist studies but also because, when I began examining various legends about cemetery statues, I noticed that I more frequently encountered legends about female cemetery statuary than legends that focused on male statuary.  I argued that this focus on the female statues in legend probably occurs because, in many cemeteries, one is more likely to encounter more statues of women than of men.

In some cases these female statues are also strikingly sexualized, as David Robinson's book of photographs, Saving Graces:  Images of Women in European Cemeteries dramatically illustrates.  So my question, "Why might I be hearing more legends about female statues in cemeteries?" was answered, but the answer led to another question, "Why are there frequently more statues of women than men in many cemeteries?"  Quoting Greg Palmer, Robinson points to a possible reason why women appear so frequently as statues in cemeteries; the statues reflect the common place of women as key figures in the grieving process.  This is a role for women that dates back at least to the ancient Greeks. Also, most of the female statues in many cemeteries are not meant to be portraits of specific individuals:  they are idealized portraits of women, often as surrogate mourners.  In my earlier research, I argued that these three‑dimensional images of women are part of a larger cultural process:  the gendering of intimacy.

So in this paper, I look at male cemetery statues (often of specific and individualized men) and their legends in comparison to the legends about female statues (often of surrogate mourners) in cemeteries in the United States.  I examine the legends and the statuary depictions of men to see how they relate or do not relate to the cultural process that I refer to as the "gendering of intimacy."

Not surprisingly, the male statues and legend differ in significant ways, and it is these differences that I chronicle in this paper.  The paper briefly discusses a statue of Joe Palooka found in Indiana, which first drew my attention to a significant sculptural pattern in male statuary.  This section is followed by a discussion of a corpus of legends about a gravemarker in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is haunted by a man known by legend trippers as Emo, Emole, Emil, Emose, Emoe, and Imo.  He is also variously described:  a seven‑foot‑tall Indian, one of the first settlers in the Salt Lake Valley, a murderer, a spouse abuser, an anti‑Mormon, one of the first people to be cremated in Salt Lake City.  These legends are then compared to cemetery legends about statues of female angels and the Virgin Mary.


The Degrees Of Belief In Narrative: The Pragmatic Aspect

Inna Sergeevna Veselova

Russian University for the Humanities, Moscow


On a criterion of truthfulness, folklore narratives are accepted to divide on fact and fiction. In this paper, I analyze markers of storytellers’ belie in the interpretation of events in the texts of Russian folklore non-fiction prose (oral stories and publications of the “yellow” press). Judging from the texts, storytellers demonstrate their belief not only in the fact of events, but also on the events’ interpretation. Storyteller intentions and purposes (illocution) and listener reaction (per locution) directly depend on a degree of truthfulness (Beliefness) of the text. Thus the belief is a pragmatic category.

The teller belief may be explicated in text as the specific statements (parentheses). Teller appeals to a system of traditional beliefs as to a basis of the interpretation his actual experience. There are several ways of belief explication: direct citation of the belief, citation with a rational motivation - rationalization, loosed negation, direct negation. Direct negation can become a basis for narration rather seldom (for example, remark in conversation as preliminary test of the interlocutor).

Using direct citation teller gives his interpretation without comments. The special statement can also express the belief in the interpretation: “I so believe”, “I so consider”. both direct citation and the statement tries to convince the interlocutor of the interpretation. In case of the listener agreement interlocutors have a bas for further communication and integration.

Rationalization as the variant of doubtful belief is popular in the excursion programs, publications “of yellow press”. “Rational” interpretations are always told by “experts”, who explain traditional superstition by the “scientific” facts. The widespread parameter of a rational motivation is the parentheses “a na samom dele” (but in the matter of facts). The doubtful belief in the oral stories is exhibited in loosed negation, that expresses in special discourse words - quotatives ("vidimo", probably? "Govorjat", they say, - doubt in a source of an information). Quoative functions also have the parentheses ("po slucham ", according to hearings, "po legende", on a legend). Discourse words demonstrate teller’s intention to delegate the responsibility for the interpretation to the third face. The main purpose of the storyteller using verbal “masks” (a rationalization and assertive parentheses) to inform and to amuse, but not to convene.

Judging to the explication of teller’s belief in the text we can say about his aims: to integrate with person, to inform, to explain some norms and rules or simply to amuse.


The Sociological Analysis Of Contemporary Sexual Legends

Jeffrey S. victor

Jamestown Community College, New York State, USA


This paper applies sociological theories to contemporary sexual legends, as a way of demonstrating the usefulness of these theories for the analysis of contemporary legends.

In the past sexual legend stories have been interpreted most commonly using an individual, psychodynamic level of analysis, rather than a collectivist, social level of analysis. Analytical questions about the meanings of the stories have been answered in terms of personal motives, personal desires, and internal personal symbolism. Sociological analysis offers a very different, alternative mode of interpretation, albeit one that is generally less familiar to people who work in literary or medical occupations.

The contemporary legend stories analyzed in this paper will primarily include rumors about the spread of AIDS, “snuff” pornographic movies, “white slavery”, satanic ritual sexual abuse of children and promiscuous cheerleaders. Secondarily they will also include more traditional stories of penis captivus,, castration and vagina dentata. The focus will be upon contemporary legends in the urban, industrial societies of North America and Europe, although some reference will be made to similar legends in primarily rural, developing societies.

The paper will not recount all these contemporary sexual legend stories. Instead, the paper will demonstrate how to use the sociological theories to interpret various sexual legends as forms of collective behavior.

The sociological theories employed will include symbolic interaction theory, functionalist theory and social conflict theory. Social interactionist theory asks the question: What are the cultural symbols expressed in the legend, as metaphors for the social construction of reality? Functionalist theory asks the question: What social structural purposes are served by legend? Social conflict theory asks the question: What vested interests of groups in society are being promoted by the legend, in terms of wealth, power, or prestige?

The sexual content of some of the legends will also be related to sex research findings. This will be done to determine whether or not the stories have any relevant, empirically verifiable basis. Doing so is particularly important with threat rumors. For example it is useful to know whether or not “snuff” movies have ever actually been made, or whether or not organized groups have kidnapped girls for sale as sexual slaves.

In a conclusion, the paper will contrast the foregoing sociological analysis with more commonly employed psychoanalytic interpretations of sexual content in legends. Some specific contrasts will be made with some past psychoanalytic interpretations. The case will be made that such psychodynamic interpretations are inappropriately applied to collective social phenomena such as contemporary legends.


Professional Women Storytellers And Their Love/Hate Relationship With Urban Legends

Wendy Welch

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada


The ways in which urban legends reflect women's fears, hopes, and place in society is a relatively understood concept in folkloristics. Women often recount contemporary legends to one another in informal settings, in a shared performance style. But in more formalized settings, women as tellers of urban legends face a unique set of challenges: do blood and guts work in a school setting with a female teller and a ring of female teachers watching?

Does the role women play in contemporary legends differ significantly from that of older folktales, particularly in terms of passivity and victimization? Do professional tellers feel more or less freedom to alter urban legends than traditional folktales of ancient status (such as Little Red Riding Hood or Tam Lin)?

These are the subjects explored in this discussion of the interplay of formalized storytelling contexts, feminism, creativity, and audience expectation.






Article From The Chamber Of Commerce Newsletter: Security Warning

[email received 18 September, 2000;mjk]


We have been informed of the following scam, which is targeting females in particular.

They received a phone call from the Post Office asking them to confirm their company postcode. When this is given, they are told that they have become eligible for some gift vouchers for their co-operation and are asked to provide their home address and postcode in order to receive the vouchers.

So far 90% of the women who have provided this information have been burgled as it is assumed that their homes are empty during office hours. The police are aware of this scam and the Post Office have confirmed that they are NOT conducting postcode surveys.

Also, it has been reported if you receive a telephone call from an individual who identifies himself/herself as being an AT & T Service Technician who was conducting a test on that telephone line, or anyone else who asks you to do the following don't. They will state that to complete the test the recipient should touch nine, zero, the hash (90) and then hang up.

To do this gives full access to your phone line, which allows them to place a long distance international or chat-line calls billed to your account. The information which the police have, suggests that many of these calls are emanating from local jails and prisons.

The information has been checked out by the police and is correct DO NOT PRESS 90 FOR ANYONE. Would anyone reading this please pass the information on to colleagues, friends, etc.otherwise it could cost someone a lot of money."






Body Parts in Bangkok

Brian Chapman


Brian Chapman sent FTN the following Internet link, which traces just over a years worth of ‘Organ Theft’ stories appearing in The Bangkok Post from July 1999 to August 2000:

Headlines are as follows:


July 1999

Hospital accused of trading in organs, July 20, 1999

Doctors may face criminal charges, July 21, 1999

Donor's kin told to sue, July 23, 1999

Evidence built against medics, July 26, 1999

Hospital hazy on payment to relatives of donating patients, July 27, 1999

Kidneys not stolen from dead woman, July 30, 1999

Findings on malpractice allegations out next week, July 31, 1999


August 1999

Row over profits kills organ trade, August 2, 1999

A donor can give the gift of life, August 2, 1999

Other hospitals involved in unethical dealings, August 2, 1999

Hospital may elude legal arms, August 2, 1999

Kidney recipients in show of support for hospital, August 3, 1999

Hospitals will have to register, August 5, 1999

Inquiry finds allegations have grounds, August 6, 1999

Hospital may face serious crime cases, August 7, 1999

Relatives of donors urged to speak up, August 10, 1999

Red Cross strikes off suspect hospital, August 12, 1999


September 1999

Medical body formed to monitor organ transplants, September 10, 1999

Doctor sets Thai kidney record straight, September 15, 1999


October 1999

Top doctor probed for keeping silent, October 15, 1999


February 2000

Doctors breached medical ethics, February 10, 2000

Doctors to lose their licences, February 11, 2000

Legal push to block organ deals, February 18, 2000


March 2000

Top surgeon says penalty is too severe, March 11, 2000

Police ask for list of organ recipients, March 13, 2000

Police to get information on recipients, March 14, 2000

Surgeon says ethics inquiry found no proof of violation, March 18, 2000


April 2000

Organ doctors face murder charge, April 4, 2000

Accused doctors to fight charges, April 7, 2000

Suspects submit to police, deny murder, April 11, 2000

We place our lives in their hands, April 18, 2000

Another 10 doctors may be implicated, April 21, 2000


August 2000

Three may go on trial for murder, August 26, 2000

Trio may face trial this year, August 31, 2000


Got Beer?

Paul Smith

Memorial University of Newfoundland


from The Globe and Mail, 9 May 2000, A13 [Reuters]

“Cabbies were to test deadly beer, court told”

Johannesburg. South Africa’s apartheid-era germ warfare chief Wouter Basson supplied poisoned beer to test on unsuspecting black taxi drivers, a former special-forces assassin told a court yesterday.

Johan Theron, who dumped the drugged bodies of apartheid opponents into the sea from helicopters, told Pretoria’s High Court that the beer was to be distributed to taxi drivers to see if it was “functional.” Dr. Basson has pleaded not guilty to 61 charges of murder, fraud and drug peddling.


The Runaway Father-in-Law

Paul Smith

Memorial University of Newfoundland


from The Globe and Mail, 9 May 2000, A13 [Reuters]

“Fan Tries to Smuggle Corpse home on bus”

London. An English rugby fan dressed his dead father-in-law and tried to smuggle the body back home from Scotland on a tour bus, police said Sunday.

The bizarre incident happened last weekend after the two men watched a rugby league final in Edinburgh on Saturday and then only the son-in-law woke up in their hotel room in Glasgow on the Sunday morning.

“For reasons known only to himself, he decided to dress the man – I believe in a shirt and tie and a suit and also a baseball cap – and he got him onto the bus,” a Glasgow police spokeswoman said.

“Apparently, he pulled the cap down over the man’s eyes and the rest of the coach were unaware that the man was dead.”

Once on the bus, the man phoned his wife to tell her that her father had died, prompting police in England to stop the bus and remove the body. The son-in-law was not charged.






Paranormal Beliefs: A Sociological Introduction.

By Erich Goode. Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, Illinois, 2000, ISBN 1-5776-076-5. 310 pp. Softcover, $17.95.


Review by Jeffrey S. Victor


Readers who are familiar only with psychological studies of paranormal beliefs will find Goode’s book to be refreshingly different. Goode’s sociological analysis is a useful antidote to psychological reductionism, which seeks to explain the persistence of paranormal beliefs exclusively on the basis of individual personality characteristics. This is the first summary and integration of sociological research on beliefs in paranormal phenomena.

Goode defines "paranormal" as being: "Events, phenomena, or powers that scientists regard as contrary to the laws of nature (p.18)". He notes that "Paranormal claims or stories invoke or make use of forces, factors, dynamics, or causes that scientists regard as inconsistent with a satisfying, naturalistic or materialistic, cause-and-effect explanation". Goode’s sociological analysis presents paranormal beliefs as socially "deviant" alternatives to the culturally dominant scientific belief system. ("Deviant" means that the beliefs are widely disapproved as being wrong, eccentric or fraudulent, especially by scientific authorities.) Goode ‘s study focuses upon four forms of paranormal beliefs: 1) astrology and psychics, 2) creationism, 3) parapsychology and 4) the belief that UFOs are real.

Goode organizes his study around certain essential questions. What causes the persistence and even popularity of paranormal beliefs? Why do paranormal beliefs persist despite increasing levels of education, technological modernization and the dominance of the scientific belief system in society? Conversely, why does skepticism of the paranormal have such little popular appeal?

Goode concludes that there are several sociological reasons for the persistence of belief in paranormal phenomena. First, paranormal stories and explanations are much more dramatic and entertaining than are scientific explanations for the vast majority of the population, regardless of educational level. Second, paranormal stories and explanations embody very ancient and enduring symbolism and themes relative to everyday hopes and fears, aspirations and anxieties. Third, most paranormal beliefs support anti-elitist sentiment against the elitist dominance of scientists and the scientific belief system. Scientific truth is not one in which everyone’s personal "truth" is on an equal footing. In contrast, paranormal truths are personal and accessible to everyone. Fourth, the dissemination of paranormal beliefs brings benefits to many diverse groups in society, sometimes in the form of income, or by increasing membership strength, or by gaining influence in society.

Paranormal Beliefs should be read by anyone who wonders why so many people believe in paranormal phenomena.







Dr. David Buchan Student Essay Prize for Contemporary Legend Research


The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR) is pleased to announce that it is to award an annual student essay prize to honour the memory of Dr. David Buchan (1939-1994), leading international ballad scholar, and a staunch supporter and perceptive writer in the area of contemporary legend research.

The prize will be awarded for the best student essay that combines research and analysis on some aspect of contemporary legend, or contemporary legend research. Previously published essays will not be considered for the award.

Applications are invited from registered (post)graduate students, although undergraduate essays will also be accepted for consideration on the advice of faculty members.

Either students or their teachers may submit essays. Instructors are asked to encourage students with eligible essays to enter the competition.

The deadline for submission is 1st of May in the year the award is to be made, and the essays should have been written within the previous academic year, or the current academic year.

The award will be made by the President of ISCLR upon the recommendation of the Selection Committee appointed by him/her, and will be announced at the annual meeting of the Society.

The winner will receive $250 (US), and a year’s membership to ISCLR. The winning essay will normally be submitted for publication in the Society’s journal, Contemporary Legend.

For further information or a copy of the Guide for Applicants, please contact Dr. Jeannie Thomas, Coordinator – David Buchan Student Essay Prize, Department of English, Utah State University, Logan, UT, 84322-3200, USA.



Perspectives on Contemporary Legend 2001

Nineteenth International Conference

San Antonio, Texas

June 13-16, 2001


The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research is pleased to announce that the 2001 "Perspectives on Contemporary Legend" Conference is to be held in San Antonio, Texas at the historic Menger Hotel from June 13 to 16, 2001.

Proposals for papers on all aspects of "contemporary," "urban," or  "modern" legend research are sought, as are those on any legend or legend-like tradition that circulates actively at present or has circulated at an earlier historical period.

The 2001 meeting will be organized as a series of seminars at which the majority of those who attend will present papers or contribute to discussion sessions.  Concurrent sessions will be avoided so that all participants can hear all papers.  Proposals for special panels of papers, discussion sessions, and other related events are encouraged.

For further information contact: Diane Goldstein, Department of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NF, A1B 3X8, Canada. Email:


Doctoral Fellowship Opportunity

Department of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland


The Department of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland is announcing a Doctoral Fellowship competition for PhD applicants interested in the field of Legend and Health. The Fellowship is valued at $15,000 per annum, renewable. The successful candidate will participate in a research assistantship program designed to provide extensive training in the skills necessary for the combined use of folklore and medical resources. The application deadline for this Fellowship is January 1, 2001. The Fellowship period will commence in Fall of 2001. Interested parties should contact the Folklore Department for application materials: Folklore Department. Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1B-3X8, Telephone: (709) 737-8403, E-mail:



FTN needs your contributions!

In order to publish more frequently, FTN will be cutting back its size to approximately four pages starting from the next issue. This should enable us to publish four issues every year, and on a regular schedule.  In order to achieve this goal we need your contributions. Please send me news, queries, research notes, clippings, calls for papers, book and movie reviews, or notes about local rumor and legend cycles for inclusion in FTN.




Deadline for next issue:

1 December 2000


Next Issue Out:

January 2001


FoafTale News (FTN) is the newsletter of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.  We study "modern" and "urban" legends, and also any legend circulating actively.  To join, send a cheque made out to "ISCLR" for US$30.00 or UK£18 to Mark Glazer, Arts & Sciences, University of Texas - Pan-American, Edinburgh TX 78539-2999, USA for North American subscriptions, or Sandy Hobbs, ASS Department, University of Paisley, Paisley, Scotland, PA1 2BE for European subscriptions. Institutional rates available upon request.  Members also receive Contemporary Legend, a refereed academic journal.  Most back issues of FTN are available from the Editor at a charge of US$3 each.   FoafTale News is indexed in the MLA Bibliography.

This newsletter is called FoafTale News for the jocular term current among legend scholars for over twenty years.  The term "foaf" was introduced by Rodney Dale (in his 1978 book, The Tumour in the Whale) for an oft-attributed but anonymous source of contemporary legends: a "friend of a friend."  Dale pointed out that contemporary legends always seemed to be about someone just two or three steps from the teller  — a boyfriend’s cousin, a co‑worker’s aunt, or a neighbor of the teller’s mechanic.  "Foaf" became a popular term at the Sheffield legend conferences in the 1980s.   It was only a short step to the pun "foaftale," a step taken by a yet-anonymous wag. 

FoafTale News welcomes contributions, including those documenting legends” travels on electronic media and in the press.  All research notes and articles are copyright by the individual authors who reserve all rights.  For permission to reprint, contact them at the addresses given in the headnote of the article. Send queries, notices, and research reports to a maximum of 3000 words to the Editor; clippings, offprints, and citations are also encouraged.

The opinions expressed in FoafTale News are those of the authors and do not in any necessary way represent those of the editor, the contributing compilers, the International Society for the Study of Contemporary Legends, its Council, or its members.

Editor:  Mikel J. Koven, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Parry-Williams, Building, Penglais Campus, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom, SY23 2AJ 




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