Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pool as Folklore

Here's a site worth noting: The Folklore of Pool & Billiards. An undergraduate student named "Wayne" (I wish he would have posted his contact info) has been working on a project for his University of Wyoming American Folklore course. As part of that project, Wayne has created the site and posted some of his work on it.

For his project, Wayne observes that:

the dynamic world of billiards is just a densely saturated ground for studying folklore, for numerous reasons. For one, the pool ritual just easily meets all the main criteria necessary in order for it to be considered as folklore. In other words, pool is communal, creative, and relatively subversive (also, it is often deviant and non-institutional in origin). What is more, these universal folkloric characteristics (that one must find to study a folkloric material) are so vividly obvious in pool that they are just very easy to withdraw from this lore.

I see no mention of Hustlers, Beats and Others on the site, which also might be useful. Another good source is Charles Lemert, author of Muhammad Ali, Trickster in the Cultural of Irony. I interviewed Lemert for The Hustler and the Champ, and his observations about pool (and Minnesota Fats particularly) definitely would be relevant to Wayne's research project.

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