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30 June 2017 @ 06:27 am
Deep Down in the Grave  
Before there was rap, there were toasts, obscene recitations improvised by African-Americans. (Two famous ones are “The Signifyin’ Monkey” and “Shine on the Titanic.”) Folklorist Roger D. Abrahams, who died recently, collected them in a delightful book called Deep Down in the Jungle. I learned from his obit that the dissertation on which he based the book led the University of Pennsylvania to create a Department of Folklore because “We cannot have a dissertation with such foul language in the English department. If you want to approve it, go and have your own department.”
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Sharon Kahndreamshark on June 30th, 2017 05:01 pm (UTC)
"the dissertation on which he based the book led the University of Pennsylvania to create a Department of Folklore because “We cannot have a dissertation with such foul language in the English department. "

I love it. Reminiscent of the kerfuffle in the British Museum when 19th century archeologists got a look at what was painted on the walls in Pompei. According to one source, the word "pornography" had to be added to the English language at that point so they could even talk about it. *heh*