Urban (Contemporary) Legends

Visit the website www.snopes.com (Links to an external site.), and spend some time looking through their collection of legends.  This is the website that folklorists trust the most to document and debunk urban legends (it also shows up in a number of legends itself, either as a form of mass media authentication (even when it debunks the very legend it’s cited in!), or in legends stating that Snopes is biased in one way or another and shouldn’t be a trusted source (while no single source should ever do all our thinking for us, Snopes is, in fact, quite well-researched and unbiased).  

Feel free to browse around a bit, or visit their “Hot 25” link for the most currently-circulating legends.  If you want to see some classics, check out their “Horrors” link.  Or, feel free to search for a legend you’ve heard.  Want to know for sure if Facebook is actually going to start charging a monthly fee? You’ll find out on Snopes!

Choose one legend you want to analyze, and copy and paste its text from Snopes into your post (if you can’t copy and paste, just summarize the legend in your own words and provide a link so classmates can find the full version if they’d like).  Then, locate within your chosen legend the 5 features of urban legends that were described in the lecture for this week. 

Where in the story do you see authentication happening, and what kind of authentication is it?  Where do you see a stereotype?  What contemporary elements are there?  You can summarize your analysis after you post the narrative, or you can break into the narrative with a different font or a different color text and indicate the features that way.  It’s up to you. 

Once you’ve done that, speculate briefly on what cultural anxieties or fears the legend you chose is dramatizing or revealing.

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