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Jan Harold Brunvand

Born March 23, 1933 (aged 76)
Cadillac, Michigan
Occupation Professor, Urban legends researcher
Nationality USA
Subjects Urban legends
Official website

Jan Harold Brunvand (born Cadillac, Michigan March 23, 1933) is a professor emeritus of the University of Utah, best known for spreading the concept of the urban legend, a particular form of 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), The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends (2001), 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 gave the keynote address at the 2003 meeting of the Missouri Folklore Society, of which he is a longtime member.

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