Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture
Why do humans hold onto traditions? Many pundits predicted that modernization and the rise of a mass culture would displace traditions, especially in America, but cultural practices still bear out the importance of rituals and customs in the development of identity, heritage, and community. In Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture, Simon J. Bronner discusses the underlying reasons for the continuing significance of traditions, delving into their social and psychological roles in everyday life, from old-time crafts to folk creativity on the Internet. Challenging prevailing notions of tradition as a relic of the past, Explaining Traditions provides deep insight into the nuances and purposes of living traditions in relation to modernity. Bronner’s work forces readers to examine their own traditions and imparts a better understanding of raging controversies over the sustainability of traditions in the modern world.
Simon J. Bronner, Distinguished University Professor of American Studies and Folklore and director of the American Studies doctoral program at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, is the author of more than a dozen books, including Grasping Things: Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America and Killing Tradition: Inside Hunting and Animal Rights Controversies. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
As one of the foremost thinkers in current folkloristic scholarship, Simon Bronner addresses a key issue in his new book, Explaining Traditions. His work is a very necessary and most welcome publication. Though quite clearly and outspokenly a strong advocate for a reflective understanding of the positive role of tradition in the making of historical and modern culture, Bronner also succeeds in drawing a detailed picture of the opposite points of view of traditional values in our society without blurring his basic vision. -- W.F.H. Nicolaisen, Distinguished Professor emeritus of English and Folklore, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Simon Bronner's Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture offers a fresh, rich understanding of how tradition shapes our life each day. In his thoughtful essays on Yiddish stories, blues tales, football, vernacular architecture, crafts, the Internet, and children's games, Bronner shows how tradition defines each of these diverse worlds. The book is a landmark study that is distinguished by both its thorough scholarship and its breadth of vision. -- William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
Explaining Traditions opens our eyes to why we reject some aspects of tradition, why we choose to keep the lore we keep, and the ways in which we are haunted by collective memory even as we seek to slough off its vestiges. -- Homestead.org
Explaining Traditions provides deep insight into the nuances and purposes of living traditions in relation to modernity. -- SIEF News
A thought-provoking book about what constitutes tradition, why we continue to care about traditions, and how we forge new ones. -- Bookreporter
No American folklorist is better qualified than Simon Bronner to review and update our ideas about what 'tradition' means...He pulls off a masterful job in this important new book. -- Journal of Folklore Research
An indefatigable researcher and writer, Bronner exhibits his best skills in this book. Always having sought to define and refine the concept of tradition, the author evocatively recapitulates and expands the thrust of his interests and development over the last 35-plus years with this work. -- Choice
Bronner's book is an important contribution to folklore studies. The book's breadth and depth exemplify Bronner's points as he draws upon such a diversity of instances that will persuade readers that tradition remains a pervasive element in modern American life. -- William Clements -- Journal of American Folklore
Janus-like, contemporary life looks insistently forward, just as it is wedded to the past. How to explain the contradiciton? This is Simon Bronner's conundrum in his new collection of essays, Exlplaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture. The answer is to understand how tradition serves modernity in smoothing the rough edges of change. Tradition becomes a form of practice—praxis—rather than a set of objects or texts. Bronner reaches back to the Roman distinction between traditum (the object itself) and tradition (the process of transmission). -- Gary Alan Fine -- Folklore 123.2 -- Northwestern University