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The Truth Never Stands in Way of a Good Story

PDF Jan Harold Brunvand (born 1933) is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah in the United States, best known for spreading the concept of the urban legend, or modern folklore. Before his work, folk tales were associated with ancient times or rural cultures; Brunvand's breakthrough was to take concepts developed in the academic study of traditional folktales and apply 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), and others. He also edited the one-volume American Folklore: An Encyclopedia (1996), as well as several textbooks.

Born in Cadillac, Michigan, Brunvand received a Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University in 1961. He taught at several U.S. universities before joining the University of Utah in 1966. He retired in 1996, but remains a popular speaker and writer; he gave the keynote address at the 2003 meeting of the Missouri Folklore Society, of which he is a longtime member.

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