The distinguished folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand has selected 26 essays, arranged in four sections of increasing sophistication and difficulty, to introduce the beginning student to the best in modern folklore scholarship. As he writes in the Preface:
These articles were chosen to illustrate a variety of approaches and folklore genres; they are rich in actual examples of folk materials and are above all well written and thought-provoking. Many are definitive studies, others appeared only recently.
The essays include the work of prominent folklorists as well as several student research papers. All provide practical models for student research and writing, and the editor also gives many useful suggestions for student projects in his introductions.
The articles are reprinted in full, including the original illustrations; the editor provides a short introduction to each selection as well as additional footnotes to explain unfamiliar terms and allusions to the student.