CU-Boulder To Host Conference On Contemporary Legends

Published: May 4, 1997

The University of Colorado at Boulder English department will host an international scholarly conference on contemporary or “urban” legends from May 21 to May 24 at the Hotel Boulderado.

About 30 members of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research will meet for the 15th annual Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Conference to present research papers and seminars on current studies. Meetings will be in the Alpine Room of the Hotel Boulderado from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday the conference will meet at 1215 Spruce St. from 8 a.m. to noon.

Contemporary or “urban” legends have been described as “false tales told as true,” but research has revealed that many are partly true. Their true significance lies in their cautionary nature, and most are fablelike warnings.

The conference provides scholars with a forum for the exchange of ideas on so-called “urban” or “modern” legends, and on the legend tradition that continues worldwide now as in the past.

Participants will come from Finland, Denmark, France, England and Canada and many areas of the United States for the multidisciplinary conference on understanding contemporary legends. Those attending are academics in literature, languages, sociology, folklore and anthropology.

Many participants are published authors and respected leaders in their field, including conference organizers Michael Preston and Cathy Preston of the CU-Boulder English department, who have published on various aspects of contemporary legends.

Seminar topics will include the Bigfoot legend, haunted houses, kidney heists, computer viruses, race-related legends, cultural implications of legends and their circulation by word-of-mouth and electronically over the World Wide Web and Internet.

“Popular interest in and awareness of contemporary legends is at its height, but this conference is about understanding the phenomenon from the viewpoints of many different disciplines,” said Michael Preston. “The conference is for academics to get together to make sense of the current research in the field.”

For information about the conference schedule call Michael Preston at (303) 492-8979 (office) or (303) 494-2416 (evenings), or send an e-mail message to Preston@spot.colorado.EDU.