Tales, Rumors, and Gossip: Exploring Contemporary Folk Literature in Grades 7-12

Popular culture continues to be infused with references to urban legends, and with the advent of social media, these stories will live on digitally for years to come. The ability to electronically transmit these tales en masse makes the content our most familiar legends vulnerable to change, and introduces the genre to technically savvy—and skeptical—new audiences.

This fascinating book uncovers the history behind urban legends and explains how the contemporary iterations of familiar fictional tales provide a window into the modern concerns—and digital advancements—of our society.

What do ghost hunting, legend tripping, and legendary monsters have in common with email hoaxes, chain letters, and horror movies? In this follow-up to Libraries Unlimited’s Tales, Rumors, and Gossip: Exploring Contemporary Folk Literature in Grades 7–12, author Gail de Vos revisits popular urban legends, and examines the impact of media—online, social, and broadcast—on their current iterations.

What Happens Next? Contemporary Urban Legends and Popular Culture traces the evolution of contemporary legends from the tradition of oral storytelling to the sharing of stories on the Internet and TV. The author examines if the popularity of contemporary legends in the media has changed the form, role, and integrity of familiar legends. In addition to revisiting some of the legends highlighted in her first book, de Vos shares new tales in circulation which she sees as a direct result of technological advancements.


“While de Vos’s background as a librarian, storyteller, teacher, and scholar brings a special perspective to this subject, the material covered goes beyond an application to young adults. In fact, the book comprises an ambitious survey of ‘contemporary urban legends.’ . . . There is material in this book to inspire a whole new generation of urban legend scholars to investigate folklore forms, once exchanged orally, as transformed into popular culture products circulated electronically or in print and images.”—Journal of Folklore Research

“What Happens Next? is a unique and explorative book tracing the evolution of contemporary (or urban) legends from their oral storytelling roots through today’s immersion in media and technology. . . . An excellent book with creative ideas in an area lacking in research resources.”—ARBAAwards:


2013 Special Storytelling Resources Award Winner — Storytelling World