I was up late reading THE GOLDEN ENCLAVES. Worth it, but two paragraphs is all that I managed to write before running out of steam. Enjoy!
Both Beverly and I realized very quickly that [Lecturer] was not engaged in a typical summer survey of the Berkshire mountains. Oh, superficially it looked like she was going through the countryside, tracing the geographic and chronological evolution of selected ghost stories. The three of us would traipse from farm to hamlet to old-age home, interviewing either the tale-tellers themselves, or their surviving descendants. [Lecturer] would ask her questions, we’d take notes about the answers, and generally there’d be a ten minute recording session at the end of each interview. Her methods were idiosyncratic, but we had assumed that beforehand.
There were two things that leapt out at me about what we were doing, though. The first was the peculiar focus of her research. [Lecturer] wanted stories about ghost farmers or walking scarecrows, and (naturally) murder ballads. That in itself wasn’t really unusual, since most folklore projects look strange and over-specific from the outside. What was odd about it was that [Lecturer] was much more interested in the origins of some materials than she was in their motifs. She’d meticulously note the location of selected works, down to the GPS coordinates, and she would also record them in full. Everything else, she left to us to take notes over.Only, she never looked at our notes. That was the second odd thing. We were obviously in the data-collection stage of the process, but Beverly noticed after the second day that [Lecturer] hadn’t given us any specialized instructions on how to organize any of the information we were gathering.