The Marrow of Human Experience: Essays on Folklore
William A. Wilson, Jill Rudy
Jacqueline S. Thursby
Utah State University Press, 2006
This collaborative work between William A. Wilson and Jill Rudy is an
excellent collection of some of Wilson’s scholarly articles. It is a
fine sampling in one easily accessible anthology. In Wilson’s voice, it
shares important examples from a master and champion of folklore studies
and the humanities. Wilson’s passion for folklore as a “way to negotiate
recurring human needs, to recognize the values and concerns of
particular groups, and to understand what it means to be human” (Rudy 1)
clearly rings in these selections. In addition, each essay is introduced
by notable fellow folklorists.
The essays cover a broad range of topics. The text is divided into three
sections: “The Importance of Folklore,” “Folklore and National
Identity,” and “Folklore, Religion, and Who We Are,” with each section
presenting several essays related to the topic. Discussions range from
the importance of folklore in the humanities, to nationalistic folkloric
perspectives, to concepts of the West and Mormon folklore. “A Daughter’s
Biography of William A. Wilson,” by Denise Wilson Jamsa, provides
further insight into the life and work of this great folklore scholar
I used the book in my “Introduction to Folklore Class” during this past
winter semester. The many topics covered in the essays led to excellent
class discussion and triggered serious research projects among several
of the students. The Marrow of Human Experience was received
positively, and many students remarked that they found the book
accessible and helpful with their understanding of the contextualization
of folklore in the scheme of academic studies and in everyday life.
Several students also mentioned that they enjoyed the tone of the book.
The seriousness of the topic is often laced with a subtle sense of humor
not lost on the reader. Wilson is a champion!