Cocktail Party Chatter: Gesunkenes Kulturgut

When both you and your guests or co-partiers tire of the same old stories told the same old ways, it’s time to dig deep for something new and stimulating.

Purely as a public service, I offer you something to talk about over a cocktail I can virtually guarantee no one at the party has heard about before: Gesunkenes Kulturgut. 

Gesunkenes kulturgut is the idea that folklore is items of past elite culture that have been adapted and popularized in folk culture. Both German Romanticism and British nineteenth-century popular antiquities see folklore as remnants of past culture.

An example: the highest ancient medical wisdom called for leeches to cure blood-borne illnesses. In subsequent generations, leeches continue to be used solely as folk medicine.

Think how smart and witty you’ll appear when you toss gesunkenes kulturgut around. If Dave Kovac is attending the party, however, find another topic of conversation; he’ll be all over it.

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