Introduction to Dominican Folklore

Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Introduction to Dominican Folklore

  • Host University

    Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra

  • Location

    Santiago, Dominican Republic

  • Area of Study

    History, International Studies, Latin American Studies, Linguistics, Modern Languages, Religion, Sociology, Theology

  • Language Level

    Intermediate, Advanced

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    Throughout this course, a complete and systematic survey of the different branches and aspects of the study of folklore will be presented, with a particular emphasis on those areas in which Dominican folklore has a particularly rich tradition. By the subject?s nature, the course takes place within a wide theoretical framework, focusing on references to Dominican examples. For this reason, various videos will be shown, short excursions will be taken, and the students will present some of their own small research projects.


    At the end of the course, the students:

    1. Will get a coherent survey, with a scientific basis, on the science of folklore.
    2. Will have a panoramic vision of the principal folkloric manifestations in the Dominican Republic.
    3. Will know how to apply concepts that were studied in class to limited research projects.


    Unit 1: Introduction.

    1. The word ?folklore?.
    2. Scope and field of study.
    3. Social act vs. folklore. Characterization of the folkloric.
    4. General classification:
    4.1. Verbal folklore.
    4.2. Partially verbal folklore
    4.3. Non-verbal folklore.

    Unit 2: Verbal Folklore.

    1. Folkloric speech.
    1.1. Folklore and linguistics: convergences and divergences.
    1.2. Characteristics of Dominican folklore speech.
    2. The proverb or saying.
    2.1. General characteristics.
    2.2. Classification:
    2.2.1. The proverbial sentence.
    2.2.2. The proverb or saying properly said.
    2.2.3. Other forms.
    2.3. Sense and function of sayings and proverbial phrases.
    2.4. Relation to ?maxims,? ?apothegm,? ?sentences,? etc.
    3. The riddle.
    3.1. Characteristics and structures.
    3.2. Types.
    3.3. Function and application of riddles.
    4. Folkloric poetry.
    4.1. Characteristics.
    4.2. Classification of agreement with form:
    4.2.1. Rhymes.
    4.2.2. Coplas.
    4.2.3. Décimas.
    4.2.4. Romance
    4.3. Classification in agreement with its use.
    4.4. Relation between folkloric poetry and the folkloric song.
    5. Myth and legend.
    5.1. Differences between myth and legend.
    5.2. Origins and classification:
    5.2.1. Of the myth.
    5.2.2. Of legends.
    5.2.3. Of Dominican myths and legends.
    6. Folkloric Short Story.
    6.1. Differentiation from the myth and legend.
    6.2. Origins and classification.
    6.3. Classification of Stith-Thompson.
    6.4. Features, motives, and leitmotivs.
    6.5. Elements of the folkloric short story:
    6.5.1. Time.
    6.5.2. Characters.
    6.5.3. Physical space.
    6.6. Language of the short story:
    6.6.1. Those things that are undefined.
    6.6.2. The use of archaisms.
    6.6.3. Formulas.

    Unit 3: Partailly-Verbal Folklore.

    1. General characterization of this type.
    2. Classification (only the principal forms).
    2.1. Folkloric song (see number 4.4.).
    2.2. Music and dance.
    2.3. Superstitions, beliefs, and customs.
    2.4. Magic and sorcery; Voodoo and popular religious manifestations.
    2.5. Children?s games.
    2.6. Folkloric drama.
    3. Dominican Folkloric Song.
    3.1. Definition and characterization of Dominican forms.
    3.2. Classification of agreement with its function.
    3.3. Relation between the folkloric song and folkloric music.
    4. Folkloric music and dance.
    4.1. Origins of Dominican musical forms.
    4.2. La ?Tumba,? its antecedents and evolution.
    4.3. Merengue.
    4.3.1. Evolution of the musical form and of the dance.
    4.3.2. Other traditional musical forms: El Carabiné La Zaradunga Los Palos
    4.4. The Son and the Bachata
    5. Superstitions, beliefs, and customs.
    5.1. Differentiations.
    5.2. Definitions and characterizations of each of these forms.
    5.3. ?Mores?.
    5.4. The most frequent kinds.
    5.4.1. The Circle of Life and the so-called ?Rites of Passage.?
    5.4.2. Places and objects.
    5.4.3. Occasions and relations with environments in general.
    5.5. Magic and sorcery; Voodoo, forms of popular religion.
    5.5.1. Differentiation between magic and sorcery or witchcraft.
    5.5.2. Magic and sorcery vs. religion.
    5.5.3. Dominican Voodoo.
    5.5.4. Forms of popular religion. Esoteric cults Spells and prayers. Images and objects of popular religiosity.
    5.6. Magic and sorcery vs. popular medicine.
    6. Children?s games.
    6.1. Definition. Function of children?s games.
    6.2. Classification.
    6.3. Survey of some folkloric games still in use.
    7. Folkloric Drama.
    7.1. Definition. Function of folkloric drama.
    7.2. Classification.

    Unit 4: Non-Verbal Folklore.

    1. Handcrafts:
    1.1. Origin and function.
    1.2. Importance of the local vs. the regional.
    1.3. Classification.
    2. The Folkloric Calendar.
    2.1. Classification:
    2.1.1. Religious festivals: Rites of passage: baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Other religious festivals.
    2.2. Civil festivals:
    2.2.1. Independence, Restoration, Battles, Constitution Day, Doctors? Day, etc.
    2.3. Other Special Festivals:
    2.3.1. Carnaval.
    2.3.2. Las Cabañuelas.
    2.3.3. End of the Year.

    Unit 5: Folkloric methodology.

    1. The investigative process.
    2. Methods of investigation: their advantages and disadvantages.
    3. Model or design of an investigation.


    1st Partial Exam (Research Project; 1 to 2.5): 30%
    2nd Partial Exam (Research Project; 2.5 to 3.4): 30%
    Attendance and class participation: 10%
    Final Research Project: 30%
    Total: 100%


    Andrade, M. (1969) Folklore from the Dominican Republic. (Memoirs of the American Folklore Society). New York: Kraus Reprints.

    Alegría P., J. F. (1993). Gagá y Vudú en la República Dominicana. Santo Domingo: Ediciones El Chango Prieto.

    Askevis-Leherpeaux, F. (1990) La Superstición. Barcelona: Paidos.

    Austerlitz, P. (1997) Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity. Philadelphia: Temple University.

    Arteaga, J. (1994) Música del Caribe. Colombia: Editorial Voluntad.

    Andújar P., C. (1997) Presencia Negra en Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo: Búho.

    Alba, O. (1982) El Español del Caribe. Santo Domingo: PUCMM.

    Brunvand, J. (1968) The Study of Folklore. New York: Norton Library.

    Castillo, J. (del) y García, M. (1989) Artesanía Dominicana. Santo Domingo: Editora Corripio.

    Davis, M. (1996). Vodú of the Dominican Republic. Bloominton: Ethnica Publications.

    Davis, M. (1986) La Otra Ciencia. Santo Domingo: UASD.

    Deive, C. E (1975) Vodú y Magia en Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo: Museo del Hombre Dominicano.

    Hernández S., C. (1996) Morir en Villa Mella. Santo Domingo: Ciasca.

    Henríquez U., P. (1940) El Español en Santo Domingo. Buenos Aires: Biblioteca Dialectología Hispanoamericana.

    Kreppe, A. (1964) The Science of Folklore. Norton Library.

    Krohn, Kaarle. (1971) Folklore Methodology. Austin: Universidad de Texas.

    Martínez, L. (1991) Palmasola. Santo Domingo: CEDER.

    Mateo, A. (1996) Al filo de la Dominicanidad. Santo Domingo: Editorial de Colores.

    Megenney, W. (1990) África en Santo Domingo. Riverside: University of California.

    Olivier Vda. Germán, C. (1971) De Nuestro Lenguaje y Costumbres. Santo Domingo: Arte y Cine.

    Pacini, D. (1990) Music of Margiality: Social Identity an Class in Dominican Bachata. New York: Cornell University.

    Rodríguez V., W. (1982) El Turbante Blanco. Santo Domingo: Edición Museo del Hombre Dominicano.

    Rodríguez D., E. (1975) Lengua y Folklore de Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo: PUCMM.

    Tejada, D.; Sánchez, F. y Mella, C. (1993) Religiosidad Popular y Siquiatría. Santo Domingo: Corripio.

    Varios Autores. (1997) Presencia Africana en la Cultura Dominicana. Santo Domingo: Centro Cultural Español.

    Veloz M., M. (1996) Barril sin Fondo. Santo Domingo: Editorial De Colores.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.