An international ensemble of folklore scholars looks at varied ways in which national and ethnic groups have traditionally and creatively used imagined states of existence-some idealizations, some demonizations-in the construction of identities for themselves and for others. Drawing on oral traditions, especially as represented in traditional ballads, broadsides, and tale collections, the contributors consider fertile landscapes of the mind where utopias overflow with bliss and abundance, stereotyped national and ethnic caricatures define the lives of 'others,' nostalgia glorifies home and occupation, and idealized and mythological animals serve as cultural icons and guideposts to harmonious social life.
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