Jan Harold Brunvand

Jan Harold Brunvand

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Jan Harold Brunvand is an American folklorist. A professor emeritus of the University of Utah
University of Utah
The University of Utah, also known as the U or the U of U, is a public, coeducational research university in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. The university was established in 1850 as the University of Deseret by the General Assembly of the provisional State of Deseret, making it Utah's oldest...

, he best known for spreading the concept of the urban legend
Urban legend
An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

, a form of modern folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

. Before his work, folk tales were associated in the popular mind with ancient times or rural cultures; Brunvand has taken concepts developed in the academic study of traditional folktales and applied them to stories circulating in the modern world.

Brunvand is the author of several well-known books on the topic of urban legends, starting with The Vanishing Hitchhiker in 1981. This book brought urban legends to popular attention in the United States. Follow-up works include The Choking Doberman (1984), The Mexican Pet (1988), Curses! Broiled Again! (1990), The Baby Train (1993), The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends (2001), and others. He also edited the one-volume American Folklore: An Encyclopedia (1996), as well as several textbooks.

Born in Cadillac, Michigan
Cadillac, Michigan
Cadillac is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and is the county seat of Wexford County. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 10,000. The city is situated at the junction of US 131, M-55 and M-115...

, Brunvand received a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in folklore from Indiana University
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university located in Bloomington, Indiana, in the United States. IU Bloomington is the flagship campus of the Indiana University system. Being the flagship campus, IU Bloomington is often referred to simply as IU or Indiana...

 in 1961. He taught at several U.S. universities before joining the University of Utah in 1966. He retired in 1996, but gave the keynote address at the 2003 meeting of the Missouri Folklore Society
The Missouri Folklore Society
The Missouri Folklore Society was organized December 15, 1906, "to encourage the collection, preservation and study of folklore in the widest sense, including customs, institutions, beliefs, signs, legends, language, literature, musical arts, and folk arts and crafts of all ethnic groups throughout...

, of which he is a longtime member.

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