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

    Latin American Studies, Race Studies, Research

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

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

    Introduction to Dominican Folklore

    Course Description:
    In summary, this course presents a complete and systematic panorama of the different aspects and branches of the study of folklore, with special emphasis on those areas of Dominican folklore that are particularly rich and colorful.  In addition to the natural richness that folklore exhibits, the course will be developed within a wide theoretical framework, emphasizing Dominican references.  Various videos will be shown, there will be short excursions, and students will share brief presentations of their own research.

    By the end of the course, the students:

    1.    Will have a coherent panorama and know the scientific bases for the study of Folklore.
    2.    Will have a panoramic vision of the principle folkloric manifestations in the Dominican Republic.
    3.    Will know how to apply research concepts studied in class.


    Unit I:  Introduction.
    1.1    “The word “folklore”
    1.2     Scope and field of study
    1.3     Social acts vs. folklore; characterization of what is folklore
    1.4    General classification:  Verbal folklore; partially verbal folklore; non-verbal folklore
    1.5    Reading:  class discussion of diverse articles about what culture is

    Unit II:  Verbal Folklore.
    2.1    Folkloric language:  folklore and linguistics (convergences and divergences); characteristics of folkloric language
    2.2    The proverb or refrain:  General characteristics; classifications (proverbial  phrases, proverbs or well said refrains, other forms); feeling and function of refrains and proverbial refrains; relationship among maxims, exaggerations, sayings, etc.; reading of “El Refrane” by Ricardo Jente (Folklore Américas); presentation by a team of 2-3 students of a mini-research investigation of one of these themes
    2.3    Riddles; characteristics and structure; function and application of riddles
    2.4    Folkloric poetry; characteristics; classification by form (rhymes, couplets, decads, romances); classification by use; relationship between folkloric poetry and folkloric songs
    2.5    Myth and legend; the differences between myths and legends; origins and classifications (of myths, of legends, of Dominican myths and legends)
    2.6    Folkloric stories; differentiating stories from myths and legends; origins and classifications; classification of Stith-Thompson; features, motives and leitmotifs; elements of the folkloric story (time, characters, physical space); the language of stories (the undefined, use of archaic language, formulas; reading of ” El Cuento Folklórico en España e Hispanoamérica” by John Keller; presentation by a team of 2-3 students of a mini-research investigation of one of these themes

    Unit III:  Partially Verbal Folklore.
    3.1    General characterization of this type
    3.2     Classification of the principle forms (folkloric songs; music and dance; superstitions, beliefs and customs; magic and witchcraft; voodoo and popular religious manifestations; children’s games; folkloric drama)
    3.3    Dominican folkloric songs; definition and characterization of the Dominican forms; classification by their function; relationship between folkloric songs and folkloric music
    3.4    Folkloric music and dance; origins of Dominican musical forms; antecedents and evolution of the Tumba; Merengue (the typical “conjunto,” evolution of the dance and musical form); other musical traditions, including the Carabiné, Zarandunga, and Los Palos; Son and Bachata; performance by the Grupo de Baile de la PUCMM and/or a presentation by the folkloric master Rafael Almánzar
    3.5    Superstitions, beliefs and customs; differentiations; definitions and characterizations of each of these forms; “mores”; most frequent types (the Vital Cycle and rites of passage; places and objects; occasions and relationships with the environment in general); magic and witchcraft; voodoo and other popular religious forms; differentiating between magic and witchcraft; magic and witchcraft vs. religion; Dominican Voodoo; popular religious forms (esoteric cults, charms and prayers; popular religious images and objects); magic and witchcraft vs. popular medicine; visit to a “botánica” and a “yerbera”; videos “El Gagá de Similá,” “Los Congos de Villa Mella,” and “Banco de Palo.”
    3.6    Children’s games; definition and function of children’s games; classification; panorama of some children’s games that are still in use
    3.7    Folkloric drama; definition and function of folkloric drama; classification; remnants of Dominican folkloric drama

    Unit IV:  Non-Verbal Folklore.
    4.1    Artisanry; origin and function; local and regional importance; classification; the principle forms of artisanry in the Cibao; visit to the Mercado Nuevo and the Mercado Modelo; visit to the León Jiménez cigar factory.
    4.2    The folkloric calendar; classification; religious festivals (patron saints, rites of passage such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, and other religious festivals); civic festivals including Independence, Restoration, battles, Constitution Day, Labor Day, Doctor’s Day, etc.; other special festivals including Carnaval, Cabañuelas, and end of year

    Unit V:  Folkloric Methodology.
    5.1     The research process
    5.2     Research methods; their advantages and disadvantages
    5.3     Research model or design


    Exams Units to evaluate Percentage
    1st partial exam (research work) 1 through 2.5 25%
    2nd partial exam (research work) 2.5 through 3.4 25%


    Attendance and class participation   5%
    Final research work   35%



    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.