The Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore was established at the University of Tartu in 1919. By this time, Estonian folkloristics had already begun to develop, and had indeed mostly done so in Tartu. However, it was not yet an academic enterprise at this stage, rather the work of enthusiastic individuals and societies. Walter Anderson was invited to be the first professor (between 1919 and 1939). During this period, the initiator of large-scale folklore collection, Matthias Johann Eisen, and the Department’s first doctoral student and founder of the Estonian Folklore Archives, Oskar Loorits, also worked here. In the years following the Second World War, the study of folklore was transferred to the Department of Estonian Literature and as a speciality was led between 1944 and 1991 by Eduard Laugaste. In 1993, the Chair regained its independence and its former name – the Chair of Estonian and Comparative Folklore –, which changed in 2007 into the Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore. Ülo Valk has been Professor of Folklore here since 1995.
University of Tartu is the only place in Estonia where it is possible to study folkloristics. Work done here touches not only upon Estonian folklore and mythology, but also upon folklore and traditional processes more widely. Dedicated courses give an overview of contemporary international developments in folklore theory, and treat both past and present folklore in its social context. Students can use our library, which is unique in Estonia, can acquaint themselves with the holdings of the folklore archive and can collect contemporary traditions during fieldwork. Those who graduate in Folklore can find work in the cultural sphere, as researchers, archivists, teachers, academics, or in other such social professions.
The general telephone number for the department is +372 737 5304, the fax is +372 737 5310.
Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia.