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Alumni Updates

Alumni of the UO Folklore Program work in a wide variety of exciting fields and dynamic contexts across the world!  A degree in folklore studies can lead your career path toward running education and cultural outreach programs; organizing and curating museum exhibits; producing documentary films; writing for academic and popular publications; working as a consultant in the arts, the film industry, or in business and marketing; planning festivals and music events; serving as a tribal liaison; teaching at a university; and a career in publishing, law, or counseling, among many other possibilities.

Read about the accomplishments and careers of our Folklore graduate students below.

And Folklore Program alumni, please email your updates to Program Director Lisa Gilman at

Emily Afanador

While earning her MA in folklore, Emily West Afanador worked as program assistant for the newly developing African Studies Program. She currently uses this experience institutionalizing and maintaining academic units at the UO to integrate the Oregon Folklife Network (OFN), Oregon’s statewide public folklore organization, into its new location at the university. As program manager of OFN, Emily synthesizes the organization into the UO’s administrative infrastructure, networks with small and large cultural organizations across Oregon and with folklore agencies across the U.S., writes grants, and develops a strategic plan for funding, communication, and programming. In her spare time, she continues to make films and perform live music.


Adam Andrews

Since I graduated from the Folklore program at Oregon in 2004, I’ve been a graduate student at the University of Iowa anthropology department, completing my master’s degree in anthropology in May of 2006. My research interests have continued in the areas of religion, and psychological approaches to religion (now integrating cognitive and psychological anthropology), but has expanded to include new research on the ubiquitous yet nearly invisible phenomenon of gay men and date rape and its connections to gay men’s construction of sexual identity through popular discourses and narratives. After completing my second master’s degree at Iowa, I’ve taken a leave of absence, and am working as a lecturer in English at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and as an adjunct in English at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Contact:


John Baumann

After graduating from the UO Folklore Program (1998), John Baumann continued his studies in folklore and religion in the Religious Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received his Ph.D. He is now a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Departments of Religious Studies and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. His areas of focus and teaching interests include Religious Ethics, Religion and Ecology, Religion in America, and Native American Spirituality. Dr. Baumann’s most recent research focuses on radical resistance to environmental threats, and environmental degradation affecting Native American lands and communities. He is chair of the Religion and Ecology Session of the Upper Midwest American Academy of Religion Meeting, and teaches widely in the areas of North American religious practice and religious/environmental ethics.


Dorothy Bayern graduated from the Folklore Master’s Program in spring 2014 with a terminal project entitled: The Girl and I: Development of Two Community History Exhibitions in Connection to Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West. She is interested in the way people perceive and negotiate identities through clothing and costume, and the current and potential applications of historical and ethnic clothing as learning tools in museum exhibits, educational programming, and cultural events. She has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Oregon and is the Exhibitions Coordinator at the U of O Museum of Natural and Cultural History.


Eric Bebernitz

Eric Bebernitz graduated from the Folklore Program in 2006. While studying at the UO he concentrated on cultural theory, subcultural studies, history, ethnography, and youth narrative which culminated in a thesis entitled “Dropping Out and Catching Out: Folklore, Symbolic Place, and the Neo-Hobo Subculture.” Portions of his research were presented at the Western States Folklore Society conference in Los Angeles and the American Folklore Society annual meetings in Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City. Eric also received top prize in the University of Oregon School of Journalism Film Festival for his short documentary film, The Aura and the Machine.

Eric now lives in Brooklyn. He has been working as a Development Officer for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an international humanitarian aid organization, since 2008. He also has worked with the Oregon Parks Historical Preservation unit, Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), and as a folklore consultant. His contact is:


Al Bersch

Al Bersch graduated from the Folklore masters program in 2010. His terminal project culminated in a collaborative exhibit about commercial fishing in Newport, OR. He now lives in Oakland, CA and works with digital collections at the Oakland Museum of California. In 2011, he co-authored a chapter with photographer Leslie Grant for the book Oral History and Photography, edited by Alexander Freund and Alistair Thomson, and published by Palgrave.


Vincent Bisson

Vincent graduated from the University of Oregon’s Interdisciplinary Folklore Program with an M.A. in 2010.His interest in moving images and history has led him to investigate popular culture, history, and audience reception. Vincent’s research continues to stress the role ethnography can play in understanding viewer reception and historical consciousness.He is an annual area chair for the Journal of Film & History’s annual conference, where he has published his chapter “Historical Film Reception: Mediated Legends” in one of the journal’s book series titled Bringing History to Life Through Film.He is also writing film reviews for Film & History. Vincent is currently working as an adjunct faculty in the Boston area.  


Matthew Branch

Matt graduated from the Folklore Masters program in December of 2005 with a Certificate in Nonprofit Management. His master’s thesis, “Defenders of the Forest: Identity and Participation in an Environmental Subculture” (D. Wojcik, adviser), advanced Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice by examining the folklore and performance of identity by forest defenders in the Pacific Northwest. After graduating Matt was hired on as a Folklife Coordinator at the Oregon Historical Society where he worked until 2008. In the fall of 2008 he returned to school to obtain a PhD in Geography and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment (HDNRE) at Pennsylvania State University. His doctoral research is a critical ethnographic approach towards Bhutan’s concept of Gross Natural Happiness and the ways that it is discursively connected to environmental policy. This summer, Matt will be interning at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, documenting folk artists and creating connections with Philadelphia’s new refugee populations. For further information contact Matt at


Sam Briger

Sam Briger lives just a scooch outside Philadelphia with Catriona and their kids Oliver and Hazel Rose. He is the book producer for the NPR show Fresh Air with Terry Gross where the editing skills he learned from Prof. Sherman have come in very handy. He receives 40-60 books a day from which he has to book show guests. Then the interviews are taped and edited for the show. On the folk side, he plays mandolin in a local bluegrass-y band. He misses the Folklore Department and Eugene but hopes to bring his kids back sometime to visit and to experience the Country Fair. Chaje!


Kristen Brooks

Kristen graduated in the spring of 2011. The title of her thesis was Material and Visual Culture of the Paranormal.


Sarah Carpenter

Sarah graduated in the winter of 2011. The title of her thesis was Narratives of a Fan: Star Wars Fan Fiction Writers Interpret Anakin Skywalker’s Story.


Revell Carr

(Folklore MA, 1998): In December, 2006, I filed my dissertation in ethnomusicology, “In the Wake of John Kanaka: Musical Interactions Between Euro-American Sailors and Pacific Islanders, 1600 – 1900.” I have been presenting my work on this topic at symposia like the New Bedford Whaling History Symposium, Mystic Seaport Museum’s Sea Music Symposium, EMPlive Symposium on Popular Music and Culture, and at the national conferences of the American Studies Association and the Society for Ethnomusicology. An article based on this work, titled “Selling Hawaiian-ness in the Nineteenth Century: Cosmopolitan Hawaiians on the American Popular Stage,” will be published in 2007 in a special electronic edition of American Quarterly. Other recent publications include an essay on disaster songs (my master’s thesis topic) in Voices: the Journal of New York Folklore (Volume 30: 3-4, Fall/Winter 2004), an essay on Maritime Dance and Drama in the forthcoming Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History, a chapter on rock music in the music appreciation textbook The Enjoyment of Music, an essay on the Grateful Dead’s folk music roots in the forthcoming book “All Graceful Instruments: Critical Essays on the Grateful Dead” (Oxford Scholars’ Press) and a couple of book reviews in the Journal of American Folklore.

I am currently employed by the UC Santa Barbara Early Modern Center, part of the English Department, in a project that received grant funding from the NEH. We are creating an online database of the broadside ballad collection of Samuel Pepys, which totals around 1850 ballads. The idea of the project is to create a searchable database of the Pepys ballads that brings together the visual, textual and musical aspects of the ballads. My job as music specialist is to research the tunes to which these ballads were sung, and to create sound recordings for every ballad for which the melody is known. This will be somewhere in the area of a thousand ballads. These recordings are part of the website, and can be heard at:
So that’s it in a nutshell. I’m also playing in a couple of bands, a punkish band called Ball Hog, and a rocksteady/doo wop group called The Escalades. And of course I still play sea chanteys and other folk music.


Venetia Charles

After graduating from the UO Folklore Program (2009), Venetia considered multiple job opportunities, including training teachers for the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan. She chose to move to Wisconsin to work for New York Times bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss. During her time in his employment, she incorporated his charity, Worldbuilders, and ran it for three years. Worldbuilders is a charity for readers, authors, and lovers of books. Funds raised by Worldbuilders go to Heifer International. In her last year there, the charity raised 250k during its fundraiser drive. She started up and ran Rothfuss’s online store, which along with Rothfuss’s books and products sells foreign editions of fantasy and sci-fi authors’ books. She also edited, researched, and assisted in the publication of A Wise Man’s Fear, which debuted at the top of the New York Times’ Best Selling Fantasy list (2011).

At the World Science Fiction Convention (2011), she met illustrator and designer Lee Moyer and arranged for Worldbuilders to publish his Literary Pin-up Calendar. At the beginning of the year (2012), she moved to Portland to work for Lee. She organized the 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar, coordinating with the 12 featured fantasy authors including Ray Bradbury, George RR Martin, and Neil Gaiman to create pin-ups based on their literary works. Lee and Venetia successfully Kickstarted Lee’s board game, The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, raising 122k for their publisher. They were involved in 5 additional successful Kickstarters before the end of the year. Venetia currently assists Lee in his design and illustration business, managing his clients, traveling to conventions, and cataloging his works. Contact:


Tiffany A. Christian

Prior to the folklore program at the University of Oregon, Tiffany received a BA in English literature and creative writing from Pacific University, and an MFA in creative writing from Chapman University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in American Studies with an emphasis in Women and Gender Studies at Washington State University. Her dissertation work revolves around the myths and symbols embedded in popular narratives of post-apocalyptic survival and the “crisis of masculinity” as it is linked to the practice of disaster preparedness/survivalism in the 21st century.

Tiffany says of her time spent in the folklore program, “The study of folklore has allowed me to make interdisciplinary connections that I feel are critical to understanding contemporary struggles with structural gender-based violence. I don’t think I’d be as capable of attempting the work I’m doing now without that study. For me, folklore can potentially have so much use beyond the theoretical; its study can have practical applications for social justice work and activism, which is so important to me.”

Tiffany is also a vocalist, songwriter, and filmmaker. She has completed two folklore documentaries about karaoke and about disaster preparedness groups as well as several smaller projects.


Hillary Colter

Graduating in the summer of 2006, Hillary has been accepted to the Harvard University Graduate School of Education for fall 2007, where she will study adolescence, creativity, and trauma. She plans to become a school psychologist. In 2005, Hillary took a job at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard where she was the Program Coordinator for postdoctoral programs, webmaster, and research assistant in Jewish Studies. Her M.A. thesis was on the Bukharan Jews of New York City. Currently she is honing her artistic side: painting, writing fiction, and playing the guitar.



Elizabeth G. Currans

I am still at UC Santa Barbara in the Department of Religious Studies but spend most of my time in the Women’s Studies Program where I have worked as a teaching associate, teaching assistant, research assistant and have led numerous pedagogy workshops. I am planning to graduate in the fall of 2007. My dissertation is currently titled “Performing Gender, Enacting Community: Women, Whiteness and Belief in Contemporary Public Demonstrations” and looks at contemporary public protests in the US organized and attended primarily by progressive women. By looking at vigils, marches and demonstrations as cultural events I hope to illuminate how women and transgendered people use their gendered, racialized and sexualized bodies to publicly enact their political beliefs. The events I examine include Code Pink actions, Women in Black vigils, Dyke Marches, Take Back the Night Marches, the 2004 March for Women’s Lives and the 2004 Million Mom March. I just returned to Santa Barbara after spending a semester at the Five Colleges Women’s Studies Research Center at Mt Holyoke College in western Massachusetts and giving a paper about Women in Black as part of a panel called “Performing Feminisms, Performing Whiteness: Gender and Race in U.S. Theatrical, Social, and Political Performances” at the Performance Studies International Conference in London, UK.

In addition, during the past few years I have co-organized two conferences. The first, “Queer Visions in the Americas,” was a small queer religious studies conference that resulted in a special edition of the journal Culture and Religions co-edited by myself and Melissa M. Wilcox and included an article of mine called “Enacting Heteronormative Belief in the Law: The Case of California’s Proposition 22.” The second, “GenderQueer/Queer- Genders: Conversations among Artists, Activists and Academics,” was a larger conference that drew people from all over the country and the world and included performances, films, visual art, academic papers and well known speakers and performers including Judith Halberstam, Imani Henry, Susan Stryker, and Gayatri Gopinath. There may or may not be an edited volume of papers from that conference.

And, in order to stay sane, I have been doing progressive news and public affairs as well as music programming on our local grassroots radio station KCSB-FM. Contact:


Adrienne Decker graduated with a Master’s in the Folklore Program in spring 2014. Her terminal project title is Dashomancy, or Curating the Magical Experience: Remediations of Pagan Spirituality and Sacred Space. Her B.A. is in cultural anthropology and English literature from the University of Mary Washington. Her research interests currently include the use of folkloric tropes and imagery in horror films, occult photography, the commodification and consumption of art, and the dissemination of folklore on the Internet.


Beth Dehn

After completing her degree in 2008 Beth received a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship grant to teach English in Uruguay and work on an oral history project with a group called Códigos de Barras who worked with prisoners and families of the incarcerated in Montevideo. She is currently the Curator of Education & Folklife at the Washington County Museum west of Portland where she coordinates a variety of educational programs, as well as curating the Museum’s oral history collection.


Robert Dobler

Robert graduated in spring 2014 with a PhD in English with a structured emphasis in Folklore. In summer 2010, Robert received his master’s degree from the UO Folklore Program. Robert was the 2007 recipient of the Don Yoder Prize for Best Student Paper in Folk Belief or Religious Folklife, and the 2008 recipient of the Warren E. Roberts Prize for Best Student Paper in Folk Art. His project, “Alternative Memorials: Death and Memory in Modern America,” was selected for the 2009 Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World workshop and book series program supported by the American Folklore Society.

Robert’s publications include numerous encyclopedia entries and the book chapters, “Ghost Bikes: Memorialization and Protest on City Streets,” in Grassroots Memorials: The Politics of Memorializing Traumatic Death (2011) and “Ghosts in the Machine: Mourning the MySpace Dead,” in Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World (2009). His research interests include alternative forms of memorialization such as grassroots memorials and spontaneous shrines; trauma theory; fundamentalist Christian comic tracts; Spiritualism and spirit photography; apocalyptic beliefs; circus sideshows; roadside attractions; American gothic fiction; and postmodern American literature.


Valerie Dowbenko

Valerie graduated in the spring of 2009. The title of her terminal project was Belief in Action: Living Religion in a New religious Movement.


Christine Dupres

After concluding her studies with the UO Folklore Program (1997), Christine continued her research at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her Ph.D. from Folklore Program, writing her dissertation on narrative, identity and belonging among the Cowlitz Indians. She is now the Sustainability Officer at the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland, Oregon (see Prior to her work at NAYA, Christine worked as the coordinator for a Ford Foundation Grant, “Indigenous Ways of Knowing,” at Lewis & Clark Graduate School in Education and Counseling. The project, a collaboration between Lewis & Clark Graduate School and tribal leaders, culminated in an international conference in the summer of 2006. Dr. Dupres continues to write. Her most recent research focuses on Native American social justice, narrative and community. She was recently elected an American Leadership Fellow, and continues to teach informally as a dance instructor. She is the mother of 16 year old twins who continue to fascinate and perplex her.


David Ensminger

David Ensminger continues to teach composition, folklore, and humanities at Lee College in Baytown, Texas.  He presented the lecture “Raw and Resilient: Black, Latino, and Queer Voices in Punk Rock” at the Fall 2010 Community College Humanities Association Southwest Division Conference, Houston, Texas.  A longer version of the lecture was presented at Technische Universität Dresden in Germany in 2011.  His article “Coloring between the Lines of Punk and Hardcore: From Absence to Black Punk Power” was published in the journal Postmodern Culture in March 2011.  His book Visual Vitriol: The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk and Hardcore Generations (based on his MA thesis in Folklore) was published in July 2011 by the University of Mississippi Press.  Also, he actively contributes to the magazines Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll and Art in Print, and the newspaper Houston Press.  From November 2010-December 2012, he wrote a monthly folklore column for Popmatters (, known as “Folk Nation.”  At the Fall 2012 American Folklore Society conference in New Orleans, his paper focused on intersections between deaf and punk culture.  He curates multiple blogs online, including a massive folklore digital archive ( and flier archives for bands, regional scenes, and artists.  He edited the book Barred for Life, a glossy overview of Black Flag tattoos, for PM Press in Fall 2012.  Most recently, his co-written biography of iconic bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins, titled Mojo Hand, will be published by the University of Texas Press in March 2013, while his book Left of the Dial: Conversations with Punk Icons will be released by PM Press in March 2013 as well.  For updates and info, see:


David Faux

Subsequent to receiving his master’s degree in Folklore Studies, David Faux spent a year in Mokp’o, Korea as a Fulbright Fellow studying Korean Buddhism. The following year, he attended the University of California, Santa Barbara towards earning a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. However, Dave modified his life plan after some major events, not the least of which was that his dissertation committee fell apart (one committee member retired and another departed from the institution). With a second master’s degree in hand (this one in Religious Studies), he returned to the east coast, attending Brooklyn Law School, where he obtained his J.D. in 2005.

As an attorney, Dave wished to pursue a career in intellectual property (“IP”) law, specifically, copyright, trademark, and associated contracts (e.g., licensing, work-for-hire, release forms, non-disclosure). Due to an ultra-competitive market in the New York City IP law field, he accepted a job in New Jersey working as an Environmental/Land Use attorney while building his own IP practice within the firm.  Since beginning at the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc. and starting a private practice in 2007, Dave’s work has narrowed in scope but expanded in opportunity.  At the Guild (, he is now the Associate Executive Director of Business Affairs.  He advises authors about their rights and business issues, but focuses mainly on special projects.  He is also the Secretary and an employee of the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, a 501(c)(3) charged with the mission of protecting the integrity of copyright as well as the public domain.  Moreover, he serves as Vice-Chair for the American Bar Association’s Dramatic Arts and Visual Arts Committee.

In 2010, Dave incorporated the Law Office of David H. Faux, P.C. (  Now he performs corporate work as “Outside General Counsel” with a focus on copyright and trademark issues for a variety of businesses and entrepreneurs, but mostly creative-centered businesses such as fashion. In September 2013, he released “The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Fashion Design,” which he edited and wrote the chapters on Trademark Creation and Copyright.  You can see more about the book at  Additionally, he serves as Co-Chair for the New York State Bar Association’s Fashion Law Committee and Vice Chair for the American Bar Association’s Committee on Dramatic Works and Visual Arts.

Perhaps most importantly, he lives in Queens with his wife and daughter, both of whom are amazing.


Erin Ferrell

Erin graduated in the fall of 2013. The title of her thesis was Outer Space as Liminal Space: Folklore and Liminality on Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica.


Jennifer Furl

Jennifer graduated in the winter of 2009. The title of her terminal project was Sharing Personal Experience in Community Writing and Storytelling Programs.


Daphne Gabrieli

Following her graduation at the University of Oregon in 2002, Daphne Gabrieli immediately took a job teaching writing at Lane Community College and hasn’t left. For the last three years she has taught at Linn-Benton Community College, too. Perhaps her life continues to be an embodiment of her undergraduate thesis, which examines women in classical literature who were caught between worlds! Similarly, she thought her LCC job would be a kind of halfway house between receiving her master’s degree and then going on to receive some other degree somewhere else. Turns out, she especially enjoyed teaching and helping students overcome their fears of writing, so she stuck around. For the last four years and in collaboration with two guidance counselors at LCC, Daphne has co-taught in a “learning community” (students dual-enroll in two related courses) which helps them earn scholarships toward their college education. Since then her students have amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships. When she’s not working, Daphne practices guitar and banjo, and her old banjo looks like something one might find in the garbage. Contact:


Kristen Gallerneaux Brooks

Kristen Gallerneaux Brooks (b. 1979) was raised in a Spiritualist household in Ontario, Canada. Upon relocation to Detroit, Michigan, she began her work with the Revenant Archives, an ongoing art and research project dedicated to the visual history of paranormal culture ( After completing an MFA in Printmaking at Wayne State University (2009), she earned a Masters in Folklore at the University of Oregon (2011, Daniel Wojcik, adviser). She is currently a San Diego Fellow in the PhD in Art Practice: Art and Media History, Theory and Criticism program at the University of California, San Diego and a Getty Research Consortium Scholar. Deep archival research informs much of her work in the areas of contemporary and historic supernatural encounters, especially as they relate to poltergeists and architectural disruption, non-retinal vision, and histories of technology in paranormal research. In 2013, her book chapter, “The Gizmo and the Glitch: Telepathy, Ocular Philosophy, and other Extensions of Sensation” will appear in the Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures. Outside of the realm of the supernatural, Kristen is currently engaged in fictocritical writing and research concerning mid-century design and architecture, fine craft movements, vernacular belief, embodiment of objects, and the intersections of these things.


Ashley Gossman

Ashley Gossman graduated in December of 2009 with a MA from the Folklore Program and is currently working at Planned Parenthood to get some experience in the nonprofit sector. She plans to move eventually to Portland and dive into the documentary filmmaking world. Her mission is to connect people to other’s stories in an effort to humanize our struggles and embrace the global community. She hosted a folkloric film screening at the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA) to connect our community with the products of folklore filmmaking efforts. Her film and terminal project, Kumekucha Amka Wamama, Rise Up Women: It Is Dawn, is about empowering African women artists and improving relationships between the artists and volunteers from an NGO. She studied folklore, cultural and visual anthropology, photo and video journalism, and Kiswahili and received her BA in cultural and visual anthropology from the University of Florida.


Abby Grewatz

Abby graduated in the fall of 2013 with a thesis entitled: Expressions of Ukrainian Identity: A Case Study of Folk Arts in a Kyiv Souvenir Market. She graduated from the University of Montana in 2009 with a B.A. in Russian and Anthropology. She spent the following year in Moscow, Russia teaching English. Her interests include cultural stereotypes, the Caucus region, Russian culture, relations between Russia and the U.S., and matryoshka dolls.


Erle Hall

Erle Hall completed his Master’s degree in 2002 after returning to Eugene from a year of study and fieldwork in Korea. In Korea he attended Yonsei University’s international graduate school, studying Korean religious culture (his thesis focused on Korean vernacular religion and its varied expressions in the United States). At the same time he did fieldwork at Korean shaman rituals called “kut” and examined the burgeoning Korean punk rock scene. In 2004, the Journal of American Folklore published a review he wrote of a film called “Our Nation” by Timothy Tangerlini of UCLA and Stephen Epstein. The film concentrated on the same Korean punk venue where Erle had conducted fieldwork on Choson Punk (a self-identified label that Korean punks give their brand of punk rock).

In April of 2005, his daughter Amelia was born and she has become the center of his family’s life. Erle currently works for the State of California in Sacramento. Email is welcomed at .


Julia Hammond

Julia received her PhD in English and Folklore in 2006. She is currently a liberal arts professor at the Art Institute of Portland in Oregon, where she teaches courses in rhetoric and creative writing, folklore, ethnography, community literature and design and culture. She also works as a freelance writer and ethnographic researcher. Her areas of specialization include 20th literature and folklore, intersections of personal and popular narratives, the American West, modernity, class conflict, the literature of the road, and community art. Her dissertation, “Homelessness and the Postmodern Home: New Cultural Narratives,” traces the invention of our current vernacular narratives of poverty through the metaphors of homelessness and the home. Contact:


Elizabeth Hancock

Elizabeth graduated in the summer of 2008. The title of her terminal project was Masculinity and The Male Body from the World of the Ancients to the World Wide Web. 


Robert Glenn Howard

Rob received his PhD emphasizing rhetoric and folklore from the English Department of the University of Oregon in 2001 (dissertation director, D. Wojcik).  Today, he is a professor in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  He is the founder and director of UW’s Digital Studies Program and is currently serving as director of the Folklore Program.  He is editor of the journal Western Folklore and an associate editor of the Journal of American Folklore.
His research focuses on everyday expressive communication in network technologies. His over 30 book chapters and articles speak to researchers across four fields including communication, religious studies, information studies, and folklore. He has published three books including Digital Jesus: The Making of a New Christian Fundamentalist Community on the Internet (2011). His current research combines folklore ethnography and software-based network graphing to document and examine online communities exchanging rumors and beliefs about the medical industry.  If you would like to contact Rob, you can email him at or check out his most current research and teaching at


Kristianne Huntsberger


Amber James

Amber graduated in the spring of 2007.  After graduating from UO Amber continued her education in Australia at the University of New Castle.


Mira Johnson

Mira graduated with an MA in folklore and a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Oregon in 2011. Today, she is the program coordinator of FolkArtPA, the folk art program of the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and is a program director at the Harrisburg nonprofit, Jump Street, Inc. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in adult education at Penn State University, specializing in learning in communities and nonformal education institutions. She continues to research pilgrimage and place, an interest that she first investigated in her masters thesis, “The Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage: Identity Construction and Spiritual Experience at Ireland’s Holy Mountain.” Mira is married to fellow folklorist and co-conspirator, David Puglia. 

Her time in the folklore program at UO afforded her many opportunities to pursue her diverse interests in place, religion, identity, folk practice, sustainability, and nonprofits. Because of the flexibility of the program these topics came together seamlessly in her coursework and work in the community. The academic rigor of the program and the support of the folklore faculty prepared Mira to take on the role of program coordinator for the Pennsylvania state folk art program, as well as eventually pursue a doctoral degree. She is incredibly grateful for her time in Oregon, and for the lasting friendships that she made as a member of Team Folklore. Email is welcome at:


Suzi Jones

Suzi Jones received her MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon and a PhD from the UO (in English, 1978), under the guidance of Professor Barre Toelken.  Suzi has worked as a folklorist throughout her career, and from l980 to l986 she served as the Director of the Traditional Native Arts Program for the Alaska State Council on the Arts.  From 1986 to 1997, she was a Senior Program Officer/Assistant Program Director for Humanities Projects in Museums in Historical Organizations, Division of Public Programs, National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC.  She currently is Deputy Director at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art in Anchorage, Alaska.  Dr. Jones is the author of Oregon Folklore (1977), Webfoots & Bunchgrassers: Folk Art of the Oregon Country (1980), The Stories We Tell: An Anthology of Oregon Folk Literature (with Jarold Ramsey, 1994), and also has edited the anthologyEskimo Drawings (2003).


Kim Kennedy White

Kim completed her MA in the UO Folklore Program in 1997. She taught children’s literature, writing, and a mythology course in the English department at Metropolitan State College of Denver until 2007. During that time, she completed her PhD in educational leadership and innovation at the University of Colorado at Denver (2006); her dissertation explored the lived experiences of successful, culturally competent teachers. She completed internships with the Colorado History Museum (2000) and state folklorist, Bea Roeder, with whom she worked to produce the Colorado Folk Arts Festival (1999-2001). She edited Ties that Bind: Folklore in the Classroom for the Western Interpretive Association (2004) and worked with the National Institute for Urban School Improvement and the Latino/a Research and Policy Center. Since 2007, she has worked at ABC-Clio/Greenwood/Praeger publishers, where she is senior acquisitions editor for the American Mosaic, acquiring book projects and database content in race and ethnicity.

Kim has published her work in the World History Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of African American Music. She is the co-editor of Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art (ABC-Clio, 2010) and the editor of America Goes Green: An Encyclopedia of Eco-Friendly Culture in the United States (ABC-Clio, 2012). Join her Linkedin network at She lives in Broomfield, Colorado with her husband, two teenagers, and three cats; she and her husband run Hypnotic Turtle, a rock arts collective celebrating culture in Denver city and beyond, where they produce a weekly radio show, local music and art shows, and the Denver Truckstop Festival.  Kim plays keyboard in her husband’s punk/blues rock band, The Pretty Sure ( and keyboards and backing vocals in her French pop/shoegaze band, Shiny Horses ( Please keep in touch at


Kalin Kirilov

Kalin Kirilov received his MA degree from the UO Folklore Program in 2003. His thesis was entitled “A Musical Ethnography of the Vlachs from the Region of Vidin, Bulgaria.” He is currently a fourth year Ph.D. student in Music Theory at the University of Oregon. He began singing and playing the accordion at the age of four and received his first gold medal in 1981 at a national folk festival in Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria. Kalin has performed extensively in Bulgaria and Western Europe, recorded with Bulgarian National Radio and television, and toured the U.S. twice with the legendary Ivo Papasov and Yuri Yunakov. He received a BA in Music from the Academy of Music, Dance, and Fine Arts in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In 2001, he released a CD that showcased his musical talents, and he performs Eastern European folk music on fifteen instruments. Kalin specializes in Eastern European music and analytical approaches to World Music. His current research focuses on harmony, embellishments, and improvisation in Bulgarian traditional music of the 20th century.


Kimberly Marshall (nee Bohannon)

 I’m entering my 3rd year in the PhD program at Indiana University, double-majoring in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology. I love Bloomington, I love my departments (Ethnomusicology is with Folklore at IU), and I love the people here. I have one more semester of coursework, and should take my comprehensive exams in the spring.

After finishing my Master’s thesis for the UO folklore program on university marching band culture in 2001, I’ve continued to work with that material. My extensive discography of university marching bands is forthcoming in the Journal of American Folklore, and I’m working on an article which examines the gendered negotiation of some of the members. My PhD work, however, has focused on Native American culture, particular the Evangelical Christian movement on the Navajo Nation.

This summer I’ve been on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico doing pre- dissertation work under a Skomp Fellowship, and beginning to learn the Navajo language. Last year, I had the opportunity to publish a book review of Barre Toelken’s “The Anguish of Snails” in the Journal of Folklore Research. This fall, I will begin working for the Ethnomusicology Video for Instruction and Analysis Digital Archive (EVIA) at IU–a program which preserves the field video of some leading ethnomusicologists and makes them accessible for teaching and research (

I remember my time at Oregon fondly, and am grateful for the start I got there in my graduate education. I’ll drop by next time I’m in Eugene. Contact:


Elena Martínez

 Elena Martinez received an M.A. in Folklore at the University of Oregon in 1997. Interested in material culture and urban folklore, following internships at the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival and City Lore, she took a full-time position at City Lore in 1997. As staff folklorist at City Lore (, she is the primary fieldworker for Place Matters, and its sub-project, the South Bronx Latin Music Project, conducting interviews with musicians from the South Bronx, conducting photo and archival research, and producing public programs. This project culminated in the making of a video documentary, “From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale,” which she co-produced and which aired on PBS in September 2006. She curated the exhibition, “¡ Que bonita bandera! : The Puerto Rican Flag as Folk Art,” which has traveled through the tri-state area, and she is the Festival Coordinator for the People’s Poetry Gathering , a major 3-day festival which explores literary poetry’s roots in the oral tradition. As a student of Rosa Elena Egipciaco, a master in the art of mundillo , Puerto Rican bobbin lace, and National Heritage Award winner, she has also worked with and organized programs pertaining to this craft. She is a contributor to Latinas in the United States: An Historical Encyclopedia by historians Virginia Sánchez Korrol and Vicki L. Ruíz, and she is on the Board of Directors for the New York State Folklore Society and the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association.

Recently Elena was the co-producer of the Bronx Latin Jazz Festival at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, and was a major contributor to City Lore’s new publication, “Hidden New York: A Guide to Places That Matter,” by Steve Zeitlin and Marci Reaven. Elena is involved in organizing many of the public programs that relate to City Lore’s projects so in the next year she will work with local organizations in on-going collaborations betweens these groups and City Lore such as The Point CDC in the Bronx, helping to further develop their tourist center which centers around the walking tour and material which formed the basis for the From Mambo to Hip Hop documentary; as well as with the New York Restoration Project (the organization founded by Bette Midler to preserve greenspace and gardens in NYC) to coordinate traditional music programs in casitas and community gardens in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.



Cortney McIntyre

Cortney graduated in the fall of 2008. The title of her thesis was Birthing Centers as Ritual Spaces: The Embodiment of Compliance and Resistance Under One Roof: A Case Study. Currently, Cortney works as the Admissions and Recruitment Manager at the University of Oregon Graduate School. There she assists applicants and departments through the application process; works with GTFs; oversees communications, database, and website management; and works with departments across campus toward recruitment and diversity efforts. Her experience as a graduate student in the Folklore department provided research and project management opportunities that inform her work with current and prospective UO graduate students, as well as UO graduate programs.


Alysia McLain

(2003 graduate) Alysia is the Curator of Public Programs for the Juneau-Douglas City Museum in Juneau, Alaska.  She oversees all public and education programming for this local history, art and culture museum.  Responsibilities include coordinating youth, adult and family programs and classes; developing and leading educational tours for K – college levels, coordinating training workshops; administering a grant program for local history projects; overseeing advertising for museum events including press, PSAs, mailings and web updates.  As a grad student, Alysia focused on arts administration and video production, in addition to folklore studies.  She also earned a Certificate in Festival and Event Management.   In 2003, she accepted an intern position at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Alysia enjoyed the variety of work offered at a small, but rapidly developing local museum and when a permanent position opened up at the Museum, she jumped at the opportunity to return to Alaska and the Museum!


Caroline Louise McNabb

Caroline “Charlie” McNabb graduated in 2011, after completing a thesis titled “Negotiations of Power in Mexican and Mexican American Women’s Narratives.” Having worked in the Mills Archives and fallen in love with information science, Charlie immediately started an MLIS program and graduated in 2013. Currently, Charlie is pursuing two long-term ethnographic research projects, investigating LGBTQ menarche narratives and bigfoot witness culture (unrelated). Charlie is interested in using primary source materials to teach information literacy and draw more undergraduate students into the folklore fold.

Charlie blogs semi-regularly about librarianship and social research a


Nathan Moore

Nathan graduated in the spring of 2013. The title of his terminal project was More Than A Labor Singer: Converging Traditions in the Harry S. Stamper, Jr. Papers, and it involved archiving and analyzing the recorded and written works of the late Harry S. Stamper, Jr., a folksinger and longshoreman from Charleston, Oregon. Nathan is currently employed at Tsunami Books in Eugene, and he performs folk music throughout the Pacific Northwest with his band Low Tide Drifters. When he is not selling books or playing the guitar, Nathan works as a folklorist, filmmaker, and oral historian, using the fieldwork skills that he gained in the Folklore Program. In collaboration with the Springfield Museum, he recently began recording community stories about author Ken Kesey’s local roots for a future museum exhibit. Over the next year, he will also be working as part of a research team led by UO Professor Bob Bussel to document the occupational culture of home care workers in Oregon. In his very limited spare time, Nathan continues to research labor-lore and the intersections between folk music and left-wing politics.


Camilla Mortensen

After graduating with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, and a focus field in Folklore, Camilla Mortensen went on to teach for two years at the UW-Madison in both fields of study. Currently she is at work as the folklore subject specialist on the Ethnographic Thesaurus, a joint project of the American Folklore Society and the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. She recently published at article in the Journal of American Folklore entitled “”(Eco)Mimesis and the Ethics of the Ethnographic Presentation,” and has an article forthcoming in The Comparatist on contemporary body modification and the ethics of appropriation. She also currently teaches part time in the Department of German and Scandinavian. In her spare time, Camilla works on issues of the environment and cultural heritage with her non-profit group, the Northwest Wild Horse Project, to protect Oregon’s wild horses and the lands they graze.



Lyle Murphy

Lyle graduated in the spring of 2013. The title of his terminal project was Caught Up In Yarn: The Rewards of Working with Crocheting Men in Prison. 


Joseph O’Connell

Joseph O’Connell works as an independent musician and cultural researcher.  His recent projects as a folklorist include collaborating with bluegrass banjo pioneer Jim Smoak to create a collection of documentary materials for the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives and conducting a folklife survey of southeast Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Arts Board.  His research in the Folklore Program at the University of Oregon focused on music and authenticity, including investigations into British folksong revivalism, small-town rock music scenes, and the intellectual history of the folklore studies.

On his time at UO, Joseph says, “Completing the Folklore Program at the University of Oregon was excellent preparation for my subsequent professional work as a folklorist.  I have especially appreciated the mentorship and sustained support of my thesis adviser and the encouragement of other faculty members in the process of finding opportunities as an independent researcher.”


Amy Oblak

Amy graduated from the Folklore Master’s Program in the spring of 2012. The title of her terminal project was Traditional Foods at the Warm Springs Reservations. She received a B.S. in Elementary Education from UW-Madison and a M. Ed and Certificate of Native American Studies from Southern Oregon University. She has been an educator for 19 years; working with students ages three through adult. She spent several years spearheading an eclectic group that focuses on authentic and accurate Native American resources and curriculum for teachers in the southern Oregon/northern California region. She is interested in Native salmon stories and customs and bringing them to Oregon classroom teachers and students.


Deborah Parker

Deborah Parker is working toward her PhD in English with a structured emphasis in folklore. While living and teaching in central Oregon, she continues to research plants and healing practices in both modern and medieval times. The focus of her current work is on Canto III of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene.


Summer Pennell

Summer Pennell earned her MA in folklore from UO in 2009, under the advisement of Lisa Gilman. Her terminal project was an Indonesian shadow-puppet performance with a lesbian storyline called Pinang & Ayu: A Love Story that she wrote, directed and performed in collaboration with Qehn Jennings and Gamelan Sari Pandhawa. She was awarded the Bruce M. Abrams LGBT Graduate Essay Award, from the University of Oregon Women’s and Gender Studies Department for this work. After leaving UO, Summer taught high school English in rural North Carolina for two years. She is currently a doctoral candidate in UNC-Chapel Hill’s PhD in Education program in the Culture, Curriculum and Change track, and will earn a graduate certificate in Qualitative Studies. Her research interests are secondary English education, LGBTQ students and staff issues, queer theory and pedagogy, intersectionality, and qualitative methods. Her dissertation research will take place in a middle school classroom, studying the intersections of social justice education, queer pedagogy, critical literacy, and critical math. If any alum are in North Carolina or interested in education, please feel free to contact her at

How UO’s Folklore Program affected Summer’s career:
“Though I am not a folklorist by profession, I am certainly a folklorist by nature. I value reflective, collaborative, ethnographic methods, and these influence my approach to research in education. The skills I learned conducting fieldwork as an MA student in folklore have positively impacted my current work, as I still use them. I have always valued interdisciplinary work, and this was fostered at UO, and I continue to do this work as a PhD candidate. When I was in the program I wanted to work in museum education, but as I graduated in 2009 when the market crashed, that wasn’t an option. This lead me to teaching, which lead to my current field that I love. My work as a student helped lead to this interest, as I conducted interviews asking people what there experiences with LGBTQ issues and people was during their K-12 school years. At the time, I had no idea this would eventually be a major focus of my future career. Though I may not have as much background with education classes as my peers, my coursework in folklore, anthropology and arts administration has been valuable as it introduced me both to critical theories as well as practical knowledge needed to run programs.”


Whitney Phillips

Whitney Phillips is a lecturer in the Media, Culture and Communication Department at New York University. She received her doctorate from the University of Oregon in English with a Folklore Structured Emphasis (digital culture focus) in 2012, her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Emerson College in 2007, and her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Humboldt State University in 2005. Her dissertation focused on the origins, evolution, and cultural context of online trolling, and her research interests include digital culture, online antagonism, anti-fandom and media archeology. Her work has been featured in The AtlanticInside Higher EdFast Company, and Gawker, among others. She has been interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and has appeared on SBS Australia’s Insight, PBS’ Offbook series, and Al Jazeera English’s The Stream. An early draft of her third chapter, “The House That Fox Built: Anonymous, Spectacle, and Cycles of Amplification” appeared inTelevision and New Media in 2012, and an early draft of her fifth chapter, “LOLing at tragedy: Facebook Trolls, Memorial Pages, and the Business of Mass-Mediated Disaster Narratives” appeared in First Monday in 2011. She is currently revising her dissertation manuscript for publication.


Sheila Rabun

Sheila graduated from the Folklore Program in June of 2011 with emphases in Environmental Studies and Sociology. Her thesis, titled Birding and Sustainability at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary: A Folkloric Analysis (, explores how the rituals, traditions, and stories shared by a group of birders contributes to reciprocity with the natural environment. She is currently the Project Manager for the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program, a grant-funded project to digitize several of Oregon’s historic newspapers for keyword-searching and browsing online. Historic Oregon newspaper content is open to the public and can be found online at


Suzanne Reed

Suzanne Reed; MS, Folklore 2010: Suzanne focused on the skills and tools needed for documenting and presenting diverse cultural expressions, to better encourage public awareness and appreciation for these traditions. Archivist, Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore 2010; film, Tracing the Line: Figure Skating in Eugene, OR. 2010; Administrative Assistant, UO Folklore Program 2009, Researcher Stevens/River Bend Project, UO Museum of Natural & Cultural History in partnership with the UO Dept. of Archeology 2009; Field Interviewer, African American History in Eugene, UO Dept. Arts Administration project 2009; film, Bharatanatyam: At The Heart Of A Family Tradition (2008); WA State Arts Commission, Folk Arts Program Assistant 2004-2007.


Kate Ristau

Kate Ristau graduated from University of Oregon in 2008. She went on to teach writing at the UO and Western Oregon University for several years, where she also hosted writing workshops for students and faculty. She even wrote a grammar book called Commas: An Irreverent Primer. In 2014, she abandoned academia to write full-time. Her creative work continues to be influenced by folklore and mythology, but now she inhabits a world of fantasy and fiction, including a Middle Grade series that is informed by Greek mythology. Kate has been working with local libraries, encouraging teens to enjoy the writing life. She has also presented editing workshops at several writing organizations, including Willamette Writers and Writers on the River. You can find out more about what she is up to at


(Megan) Rosalynn Rothstein

Rosalynn received her Master’s degree in the fall of 2012. The title of her thesis was Managing Boundaries: the Role of Narratives at a 9-1-1 Call Center. She examined the narratives of dispatchers and calltakers at the Bureau of Emergency Communications in Portland, Oregon. She is currently still employed by the Bureau of Emergency Communications as a senior dispatcher, lead worker and active shop steward in her union chapter. She is working on a project which applies worker’s narratives to “lessons learned” training materials. She is also continuing to research narrative at 9-1-1 focusing specifically on trauma. She and her partner, Adam Rothstein, and a third collaborator, Carl Diehl, received a Precipice grant from the Portland Institute of Contemporary art to run an art space called Weird Shift Storefront in Portland, Oregon.


Forrest Rule received his Master’s in the Folklore Program in spring 2014 with a terminal project entitled Images of Oregon Folklife: The Digitization and Curation of Visual Materials from the Oregon Folklife Program. His interests lay at the intersection of personal media use, technology, space, place, mobility and self-documentation of belief-centered practices. He is currently conducting research on the expression of devotional connection to place through Instagram. Forrest also is interested in digital humanities and the application of emergent, digital methodologies to folklore research. He serves as editor-at-large for Digital Humanities Now.


Sarah Sandri

Sarah earned a Master’s degree in the spring of 2012. The title of her thesis was Performance, Politics, and Identity in African Dance Communities in the United States. She studied performativity, gender and ethnicity in African dance communities in the U.S. She received a B.A. in Comparative Literature in English & French from Smith College.


Casey Schmitt

Casey Schmitt graduated from the UO in 2008, with his MA thesis on concepts of wilderness, wild men, and liminal spaces.  Casey is currently lecturing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while finishing his Ph.D. in Communication Arts, with a focus on Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture. In 2011, he completed a second Master’s degree at the UW-Madison, also in Communication Arts, that focused on the rhetorical functions of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. Since leaving Eugene in 2008, he has taught English at Parkland College in Champaign, IL, and worked on the editorial staff of Western Folklore and the Oral History Review. He regularly teaches courses on rhetoric, religion, argumentation, and, whenever possible, folklore.

His work has been published in Folklore, the Journal of American Folklore, and Cultural Analysis, and several other works will be published in the coming year, included chapters in the forthcoming compilations, Tradition in the Twenty-First Century (edited by Trevor J. Blank and Robert Glenn Howard) and Voice and the Environment (edited by Jennifer Peeples). His current work combines folkloristic and ethnographic approaches with literary and rhetorical analysis to explore the symbolic depiction of frontier and wilderness landscapes within the natural environment and the extent to which such depictions shape both individual and community identities. Casey’s secondary research projects explore the rhetoric of humor and the appropriation of narrative traditions. He attends multiple scholarly conferences throughout the year and is always happy to re-connect and reminisce with once and future members of the University of Oregon’s Team Folklore.


Amy Shields

Amy graduated in the winter of 2008. While attending school Amy completed a thesis.


Carol Spellman

Carol Spellman graduated from the UO Folklore Program in 2002 with a focus on documentary video, ethnomusicology, and Irish folklore. Carol traveled to Ireland during 2000 and 2001 where she conducted fieldwork on the topic of Irish women’s contribution to traditional song and music. Her work culminated in a documentary video and paper entitled “For the Love of the Tune: Irish Women and Traditional Music.” In 2004, an article based on her research was published in “Beascna” through the University of Cork Press, Cork, Ireland.

In 2002, Carol began work at the Oregon Historical Society Folklife Program in Portland, Oregon. As Folklife Education Coordinator, Carol utilizes her Masters degree in Folklore to teach K-12 students about folklife topics. She coordinates a roster of over 40 artists from diverse cultures who are currently living in Oregon, scheduling these artists for workshops, residencies and performances in schools throughout the state. Her job is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission. In addition, Carol supports the other activities of the OHS Folklife Program, including concerts, conferences, festivals, and special events held at the Historical Society. Grant funding enables Carol to partner with community and school organizations. Recent projects include:
–teaching community documentation using video (interviewing, filming, and editing) to 4-H youth in five rural counties (Portraits of Oregon) and to Latino youth at Roosevelt High School in Portland , Oregon (Multnomah County Portraits)
–organizing and implementing workshops statewide for teachers and cohort teachers on topics of multicultural awareness and best practices for using folklife in the classroom
–organizing and facilitating folk arts classes at the annual Oregon Teacher Arts Institute in Monmouth, Oregon
–working with Native American tradition bearers and students in Burns, Chiloquin, and Pendleton, Oregon
–presenting at conferences, including the American Folklore Society and Western States Folklore Society annual meetings, on topics of youth, education, and folklife.

Current 2006-07 projects in the schools include a multicultural garden and mural project in SE Portland, community documentation of Latino lifeways in Woodburn, Oregon, Islamic embroidery with students attending the SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) in Portland and folklife in the community with Parkdale, Oregon students. Carol participates in local arts consortiums including Youth Arts Consortium in Portland, Oregon and Regional Arts Providers Network of Oregon.


Donald Stacy, Jr.

Donald graduated in the winter of 2010. The title of his terminal project was Sinterklaas and Surprise: A Dutch Tradition Comes to America.


Mickey Stellavato

Mickey Stellavato graduated with an MA in Folklore (2006; Sharon Sherman, adviser) with a focus on the first-person narratives of women.  She was awarded the Alma Johnson Graduate Folklore Award in 2004 for her short film Like Our Ancestors: The Choice of Homebirth in a Modern World.  She also received a grant from The Center for the Study of Women in Society in 2006 for her master’s terminal project Vodka & Popcorn: The Life and Times of Lisa Blue, a video portrait.  After earning her MA she decided to pursue a doctorate in media studies as a way of combining oral history, liberation pedagogy, and digital tools into the emerging field of Digital Storytelling, and she currently is a PhD candidate in the Media Studies program at the UO School of Journalism and Communication, as well as a GTF in media production at the Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC).   Mickey also is a freelance photographer, trained facilitator with the Center for Digital Storytelling, and volunteers with the Trauma Healing Project, incorporating digital storytelling into healing processes with trauma survivors.  Her dissertation, Speaking for Ourselves: Digital Storytelling in the Margins, is an oral history-based study that looks at personal feelings of self-efficacy and their ties to social justice.


Gail Stevenson

Gail graduated in the summer of 2009. The title of her terminal project was Identity, Therapy, and Social Interaction in Richart’s Yard.


Erin Swartz

Erin earned a Master’s degree in the spring of 2012. The title of her terminal project was Somewhen Else: The Grilley Girls and the Pendleton Round Up. In the past she has done work on gender performance in MTV’s “Jackass,” internet communities, “lolcats,” and apocalyptic beliefs.


Jeannie Banks Thomas

Jeannie Banks Thomas received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1992, in the English Department, with an emphasis on folklore studies. She is now a Professor of English and Folklore and Director of the Folklore Program at Utah State University. Her work focuses on gender, legend, and material culture. Her publications include “Naked Barbies, Warrior Joes, and Other Forms of Visible Gender” (University of Illinois Press); “Featherless Chickens, Laughing Women, and Serious Stories” (University of Virginia Press) winner of the Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prize; and “Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore” (forthcoming from Utah State University Press) with Diane Goldstein and Sylvia Grider.


Lilli Tichinin

Lilli graduated from University of Oregon in 2009 with a BA in Anthropology and a Certificate in Folklore.  During her time as an undergraduate at UO she co-taught a Folklore and Anthropology Freshman Interest Group with Professor Lisa Gilman.   After graduating she interned at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage where she worked on the 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Program,México.  She retuned to University of Oregon as the Outreach Coordinator for First-Year Programs from 2010-2012.   She is currently a graduate student at Western Kentucky University where she is pursuing a Masters Degree in Folk Studies.  She is the Graduate Assistant for the Kentucky Folklife Program, the state public folklore program that recently moved to WKU.


Yvonne Toepfer earned her PhD in the Comparative Literature Department. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon. Her current interests include folktales, especially the transformation of (literary) narratives from the eighteen-century to present and their socio-political implications. She also investigates the parallels between literary variants and cinematographic texts and how these texts maintain a specific narrative structure and address aesthetic/philosophical concepts, such as the sublime, the fantastic, the uncanny, and Romantic Irony. Her dissertation project deals with the conflicting representations of the sandman figure and argues that these “identity-fragments” situate the sandman into the context of the modern sublime.


Kelley Totten

Kelley Totten just completed her first year in the PhD program in folklore at Indiana University, where she has had to the good fortune to rub Stith Thompson’s forehead on a regular basis. She has been involved with Traditional Arts Indiana and next year will continue working for them as the graduate assistant. Kelley is continuing on from the project she helped start with OFN working with incarcerated fiber artists; every Wednesday she knits with the Naptown Knitters, men incarcerated in the Indianapolis Re-Entry Educational Facility. She is currently preparing for this summer’s third rendition of the Looplore Experiment.


Michael Underwood

Since graduating in 2007, Michael has moved into the publishing industry. He is currently the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books, an independent publisher of science fiction and fantasy.

Michael is also pursuing a career as a writer, with two novels and a novella published by Pocket Star, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Those works are Geekomancy, Celebromancy, and Attack of the Geek. Also forthcoming are his novels Shield and Crocus and The Younger Gods. Geekomancy and it’s sequels are directly influenced by Michael’s Folklore MA fieldwork studying gaming and geek culture.

As a co-host on SF/F podcast The Skiffy and Fanty Show, he is a Hugo award nominee for Best Fancast.

Michael lives in Baltimore, MD, with his fiancee.


Geoffrey G. Vallée

Geoffrey G. Vallée is a major in the Oregon National Guard, the pilot of an air-ambulance helicopter, and commander of the UH-60 helicopter rescue unit based in Salem, Oregon. After graduating, he commanded the Oregon rescue unit as it deployed to and returned from Iraq. The unit provided medical evac¬uation and care to U.S. and coalition soldiers and civilians, insurgents, and Iraqi civilians. He won the Bronze Star, the meritorious service medal, among others for leadership and accomplishment. His organization flew more than 2,900 flight hours, conducted 325 life-saving missions, and moved more than 1,200 patients among many other accomplishments, and none included his organization hurting anyone. In August 2010, Vallée was promoted to battalion executive officer of all of Oregon’s Army Aviation assets, and was hired in October as a recreation supervisor with the Civilian Conservation Corps (Timber Lake Job Corps site) in Estacada, Oregon. He manages a staff to provide recreation, cultural, and leadership development opportunities for 260 at-risk youths, ages sixteen to twenty-four. In December 2010, he was picked to attend the highly selective Intermediate Level Education program for senior Army officers. This program provides advanced staff and management education, and awards an MBA.


Audrey Vanderford

Audrey Vanderford is currently a Ph.D. student in the Comparative Literature Program at the University of Oregon. She received her MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon in 2000 (her thesis was entitled “Political Pranks: The Performance of Radical Humor”). She is interested in the intersection of folklore, feminism, and ecology, and her research includes political pranks, ‘zines, and seasonal festivals/celebrations. She has presented papers at numerous conferences and published several articles on these and other topics. Audrey has taught a course in the UO Women’s Studies Program entitled “Anarcha-Feminism,” and a range of courses in the Comparative Literature Program, including classes on “Clowns and Tricksters,” “Sixties Countercultures,” “World Science Fiction,” and “Gangsters in Popular Culture.” She received the Comparative Literature Program’s prestigious Beall Dissertation Prospectus Award in 2006.


Elaine Vradenburgh

Elaine Vradenburgh lives in Olympia, Washington, where she is the development director and board coordinator at the Olympia Film Society, an organization that presents independent and underrepresented film, music, and allied arts at the historic Capitol Theater. Elaine also works as a freelance videographer, video editor, and writer. She primarily creates outreach videos for nonprofit organizations and writes on occasion about interesting characters for the Olympia Power and Light, the local arts and culture weekly. Elaine and fellow folklore graduates Jennifer Furl and Kelley Totten are the founders of the Looplore Experiment.


Christina Vrtis

Christina completed her MA in folklore this spring after completing her master’s degree thesis entitled “Death is the Only Reality: A Folkloric Analysis of Notions of Death and Funerary Ritual in Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Literature.” She will be continuing at the UO as a PhD student in English with an emphasis in folklore this fall. Current research interests include contemporary women’s literature and folklore, ritual theory, and performance studies, especially as these occur in the Caribbean, Africa and the African Diaspora, and Pacific Island regions. Christy has a BA from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, in theater arts and psychology, and a second BA in English from the UO.


Brennan Washburn

What prospects await a Folklore Studies graduate who enters a world that sometimes fails to recognize the nuances of folklore itself—you know the question: “What are you going to do with an MA degree in Folklore?” In my experience, the interdisciplinary approach of the University of Oregon Folklore Program actually gives its graduates an edge in the real world. How many graduates can claim that they are comfortable and capable in three academic fields, in my case, Film, English and Anthropology (not to mention Folklore Studies), and possess proven skills in writing, teaching, and video-making?

In 1995, as a new graduate of the University of Oregon, I was hired as a teacher by Educational Management Group in Scottsdale, AZ. Classes were taught on the air, via satellite, to schools across the nation. The topics varied wildly, and on any given day I might teach 2nd graders about gorillas in Uganda, 5th graders about global weather patterns, and high school freshmen about the basics of essay writing. Each assignment afforded an opportunity to learn something new and to figure out how to appeal to those specific folks in their own part of the country. My folklore studies helped immeasurably in this regard, primarily in maintaining a wide-ranging and flexible mind, but also in leveraging local traditions as a quick way to find common ground in the virtual classroom. All of this happened on live television!

Yet, I learned something even more valuable while at UO–producing documentaries–in other words, actually shooting the video, transcribing the interviews and editing the final piece. One day at work a shipment of “non-linear” video editing machines (very fancy computers) arrived, and the employees could only stare blankly as no one had ever seen such devices, or knew how to use them. By tinkering with them, and figuring out just enough to impress my boss, suddenly I was reassigned to the role of video producer responsible for creating documentary-style projects using these digital machines. While the technology was new, the principles of production hadn’t changed (and still haven’t), and soon I was traveling the globe shooting video, bringing footage home to edit, and broadcasting it to students in an on-air classroom. After the company closed in 1998, my life in video has continued, in 1999 as central photographer for a PBS documentary, “Rome: Journey into Jubilee”, and later as a co-producer of “Havasu Baaja: People of the Blue-Green Water,” about the Keeper of the Sacred Songs, Rex Tilousi, an elder of the Havasupai tribe who have inhabited the bottom of the Grand Canyon since beginningless time. In 2005, my work with Rex and the Havasupai was presented at the Western States Folklore Society Conference at the University of Oregon
When the internet craze hit in the late 90s, my belief was that the web would become the greatest video broadcast mechanism in history and that I had to be part of it. The next thing I knew, I owned a multi-media business in downtown Chicago along with several business partners who referred to me as the “creative.” But sadly, no customers seemed to want videos at that time; they only wanted websites. With this simple twist of fate, my role changed, and overnight I became the company web developer for no other reason than “you know something about computers.” Many, many websites and one industry crash later, I still work as a web developer. My company is gone and so are the employees, but I still develop websites for a variety of customers. I even run an online auction business, Auctions a la Carte ( that provides online auction tools for charities and non-profits. During the month of January 2007 alone, these auctions will raise money to provide scholarships to charter school students, to send high school students to study in France, and to assist survivors of breast cancer. Although they keep me busy, these endeavors have, however, become side businesses
Presently I work full-time at the University of Arizona, College of Nursing in Tucson, Arizona, as “Systems Analyst, Senior.” In 2003 the UA College of Nursing launched an innovative online graduate program, allowing students from anywhere in the world to participate without the requirement of attending school on campus. The program has evolved into an award-winning online educational environment, in which I work with faculty and students to create and conduct media-rich coursework. On occasion I even make videos on medical topics like suturing, bandaging, and patient care, and I even do a little teaching, often giving presentations and orientations about online learning. Not a day goes by that I don’t notice the cross-over with my own graduate studies at the UO. Without a foundation in video production, writing, teaching, folklore, and cultural studies, I wouldn’t be able to do my current job, nor have been able to travel the exciting path to get there
Looking ahead, this summer I plan on going to the snowy land of Tibet to make a short documentary about the influence music and chanting in traditional culture. The results of this trip will become, among other things, my next presentation at WSFS. Someday I also hope to develop the website,, also known as “the future of digital storytelling.” Would you like to participate? I could really use some graduates of the University of Oregon Folklore Studies program.


Jamie Lynn Webster

Jamie Lynn Webster (Folklore MA, 2003) entered the Ph.D. program in musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Oregon, in 2003. During her four years as a graduate teaching fellow in the School of Music and Dance, she has assisted in and taught courses regarding ethnographies of music in world cultures, and introductions to western music and music history. Her course on International Film Music, comparing music in different film genres around the world, will debut in summer 2007. Musically, she has participated in several western classical and ethnic ensembles at the school of music, including performing drumming and psinden (solo vocalist) roles with the Javanese Gamelan ensemble, and leading the vocal contingent of the East European Folk Ensemble. Her paper, “Performing Polishness: Musical Choices in a Professional Polish-American Ensemble,” based on ethnographic research from her master’s thesis on the Lira Singers of Chicago, was presented at the Western States Folklore Society meeting in Eugene in 2005, and the national meeting for the Society for American Music, also in 2005. More recently, her paper, “The Politics of Passion and Purity: The Choreography of Crypt Scenes in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet,” which explores how cultural climates in 1950s Russia and 1960s Great Britain shaped two filmed versions of the ballet, was presented at the international conference in Banff for the Society of Dance History Scholars in 2006. Her paper, “Hai la joc! Periodicity at Play in Romanian Dance Music” shows how the layering of instrumental music, improvised rhyme, and dance forms create complexity in performance, and is scheduled for publication in the forthcoming journal honoring the late Dick Crum’s ethnographic work in Balkan dance. In her spare time, she is composing music for a musical theatre piece based on episodes from the legends of Robin Hood. Jamie is currently preparing for her comprehensive exams, and is in the process of choosing a dissertation topic in which she intends to combine interests in song and dance, performance and cultural analysis, so-called classical and folk idioms, issues of ethnic identity and gender, and methodologies from musicological and ethnomusicological disciplines. Please send good ideas to:


Rosemary Wood

Rosemary graduated in the winter of 2012. The title of her terminal project was The Green Goddess, the Green Witch and the Wise Woman Way: Cultivating Interconnection and Wholeness Through an Archetypal and Herbalistic Apprenticeship Experience. She received a B.A. in Music at the University of Oregon in 2008. Her interests include herbal and other nature-based medicines, healing through music, food traditions throughout the world, and female archetypes such as the wise woman, the goddess, the green witch, and the crone. She spent a portion of the summer of 2010 apprenticing with herbalist, wise woman, and shaman Susun Weed at her home and goat farm in the state of New York where she learned more about the Green Goddess Path and living in connection with the earth.


Ziying You

Ziying You, a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at Ohio State, has broad research interests in the intellectual history of Chinese folklore studies, individual creativity in storytelling and performing arts, reification of myths and legends, and beliefs and practices in local contexts.  Her other interests include foodways and representation of food in cinema, folkloric documentary and video production, and grassroots agency in the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Her first MA thesis, completed in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University (2005), examined the New Gushi (Stories) Movement from 1962 to 1966 in Maoist China, showing how the gushi, as a vernacular narrative genre in China, was shaped to meet political and ideological needs in socialist education campaigns; how individual storytellers responded to such changes; and how they expressed their creativity and agency in the process. An article drawn from this thesis was published in Asian Ethnology in 2012.

Ziying’s second MA thesis, completed in the Folklore Program at the University of Oregon (2009; Dr. Sherman, adviser), focused on the dynamics, variations, and functions of Chinese foodways in the United States, exploring those that have continued through time and across space and that have been transformed by the processes of transnational and transcultural communication and interaction. Her videos, Why Are We Cooking? Chinese Foodways in America (2008) and Chef Jevon’s Dinner (2009), completed at Oregon, have been publicly presented many times in China and the U.S. Her current dissertation treats the invention, contradiction, negotiation and practice of tradition after 1949, as both cultural construct and power struggle tool in contemporary China.

Ziying has taught Chinese at all levels in the OSU Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures for almost three years. Now she is one of two teaching assistants in the large-enrollment “East Asian Humanities” course (about 230 students) in Spring 2013 at Ohio State. She presents a number of lectures on geography, history, language, literature, religion, food and festival in East Asia. In addition, she served as a co-chair of the Eastern Asia Section of American Folklore Society (AFS) from 2009 to 2011, and co-coordinated the panel “Discourses and Practices of Folk Literature and Arts in Revolutionary China: 1949-1966” at the AFS 2010 annual meeting. She served on the Jonathan T. Y. Yeh Award Committee for Student Scholarship in Asian and Asian American Folklore in 2010 and 2011, and also served as a translator and an interpreter for China-US Forum on Intangible Cultural Heritage (FICH) sponsored by the AFS in 2011 and 2012.

As a folklorist, she has been trained to embrace the essential value of cultural diversity, and explore a very large and diverse body of cultural knowledge and practice, regardless of ethnicity, race, class, religion, age, gender, or disabilities. Her main goal in research, teaching and service is to represent underrepresented groups of people, and serve them for their equal rights in the transmission of their cultural knowledge and practice.


Shelise Zumwalt

Shelise received her MA in Folklore (with emphasis in Anthropology and Arts Administration) in the spring of 2012. Her terminal project centered around issues of representation when exhibiting cultural material in museum (and similar) contexts. She received a BA in Religious Studies at the University of Oregon in 2009. Currently working at the Clark Honors College, she continues to be enamored with all things Folklore; and has a special place in her heart for Japanese culture, foodways studies, latrinalia, and Sasquatch.