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Current Student Bios

Dorothy Bayern 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.

Emily Bigelow is a first year Master’s student in the Folklore Program with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies from Bowling Green State University. Her primary research interest is the art and history of traditional tattooing, from ancient Egypt to the present day. Her other interests include celebration, festival, women’s rituals, and the dynamics of tradition.

Vanessa Cutz is a recent graduate from Western Oregon University where she studied English. She is interested in the nature of stories and the interplay between cultural stories and the individual’s stories in the creation of identity. She is also interested in how narratives may be used for recovery by individuals and communities after traumatic events, and how stories may be used in conflict resolution.

Bruce Dahlstrom has an MA from Sonoma State University in Cultural Resource Management and a BA in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked in consulting archaeology primarily in California, Oregon, and British Columbia. He is interested in the construction, meaning and use of monsters in
contemporary society particularly as they are used in expressing concerns about human/environment and human/technology issues.

Adrienne Decker is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore Program with a B.A. 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.

Sean Dixon is a first year Master’s student. He graduated with a B.A. in European History from American University in Washington, DC. Currently his research interests include Scandinavian and Germanic mythology, and the ways in which folktales and mythology have been utilized to convey and reevaluate changing cultural beliefs and folkways over the centuries.

Robert Dobler has an M.A. in Folklore from the University of Oregon and is currently completing the UO English Ph.D. program with a structured emphasis in Folklore. His 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.

Nathan Georgitis is a Librarian at the University of Oregon and also Archivist of the Folklore Program’s Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore. He earned a B.A. in Literature at Brown University and a M.L.S. from Simmons College. Nathan’s interests include archives management and audio preservation; folklore and public media; and canoeing and boat building traditions.

Abby Grewatz is a Master’s student in the Folklore Program and 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.

Chip Hanna is a Master’s student in the Folklore Program and graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Miami. His research interests include folk and fairytales, particularly a comparison of similar tales from different parts of the world, and how differences and similarities in the tale assist in a comparative study of those cultures.

Sabra Harris has a B.A. in Asian Studies with an emphasis on Japanese cultural studies from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. She is interested in folklore and popular culture, the ways in which old stories and archetypes are expressed in modern society, sexuality in myth, and issues of immigration and the expression of rituals and traditions in new contexts. She has participated in two summer internships collecting data for “American Hinduism” and “Burial Practices of Minority Religions in the American South” for lectures at the University of the South and the Sewanee School of Theology.

Emily Knott is a first year Master’s student. She received a B.S. in History from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. Her research interests are wide and varied but she is particularly interested in subcultures, the occult, and gender issues, both past and present.

Hannah Kolesar is a Master’s student in the Folklore Program who holds a B.A. in Anthropology and English Literature from Elmira College. Her research interests include religious and occult practices, rites, and rituals, and particularly what these beliefs say about gender perception and sexuality. She takes a special interest in the role that women played in the Spiritualist movement and the role of spirit possession in different religions.

Mical Lewis is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore Program. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2010 with a B.A. in English. She is primarily interested in ceremonies and agricultural holidays, both ancient and modern, particularly those stemming from Celtic cultures, and how and why they operate to orient a community or individual in time and space. Her other interests include the folklore surrounding the tarot, chickens, kitchen and cottage gardens, bee-keeping, tea, and why human beings need to create rituals.

Julianne Meyer is a first year Master’s student with a B.A. in Anthropology and English from Truman State University, Missouri. Her interests range from ethnobotany to supernatural lore. She has initiated, constructed, and taught an undergraduate course in ethnobiology, and hopes to make folkloric knowledge applicable to standard concepts of agriculture. She is especially interested ethnobotanical knowledge as expressed through Native American environmental knowledge. Another area of interest includes the documentation of the ghost lore of Kansas City, and she continues to research local traditions in this area and others.

Martina Miles is a Ph.D. student in the English Department with dual emphases in folklore and disability studies. Her research examines the intersection of lived religion and literature, specifically focusing on how knowledge gets created in post-apocalyptic spaces, stories, and beliefs. Her focus on eschatology began while studying for her B.A. in English and Gender Studies at Whittier College and led to her current research interest in how bodies, identities, and places are crafted in the particularly contentious narrative space of the end of the world as we know it. Martina teaches in the UO’s composition program and often jokes that she’ll someday publish a magnum opus on the folk culture of composition classrooms.

Nathan Moore has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Oregon.  His research interests include labor-lore, folk music and left-wing politics, film and folklore, and archival theory and practice.  His film, “We Just Come to Work Here:” The Music of Harry Stamper, documents the life and legacy of the late Harry S. Stamper, Jr., a folksinger and longshoreman from Charleston, Oregon.  Nathan’s terminal project involves archiving and analyzing Harry Stamper’s written and recorded works.

Jillian Norris has a B.A. in Writing Communications with a minor in International Studies from Maryville College, Tennessee. She is a first year Master’s student in the Folklore Program. She is interested in the preservation of folkloric traditions and local culture that are currently threatened by rapid globalization. She has a particular interest in Slavic and Celtic communities, and Native American cultures, as well as issues of cultural heritage in general.

Robb Norton is a Eugene native whose primary research interests include new media and digital culture. He has studied documentary filmmaking and cultural studies in England, as well as Japanese language and culture in Japan. He was one of the filmmakers of the award-winning feature film Pizza Girl produced right here in Eugene.

Ahavah Oblak 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 has spent the last four 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.

Benjamin Panther received in BA in Religious Studies at DePaul University before coming to U of O to study folklore.  Combining his love for storytelling, Victorian novels, champagne brunches, and criminals, his current research focuses on narratives (both historical and literary) of gentleman thieves and art crime in upper class societies.  When not keeping a watchful eye out for scheming socialites, he also looks at other areas of upper class culture such as table etiquette, fancy dress, and the social calendar and the construction of class.

Emily Ridout is a first year Master’s student in the Folklore Program. She graduated from Indiana University in 2009 with a B.A. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology and a minor in Creative Writing. Since that time, she has been teaching and guiding trips in India, Fiji, and California. Her primary research interests include esoteric religion, yoga practices, astrology, and foodways.

Rosalynn Rothstein completed her thesis on the occupational folklore of 9-1-1 dispatchers and calltakers. Specifically, she looks at narratives at the Bureau of Emergency Communications in Portland, Oregon, where she works is a senior dispatcher, and analyzes the expression of trauma, “dark humor,” and the phenomenon of multi-modal communication that occurs in the workplace. She also has written about the discourses of belief in online forums, focusing on the free energy movement, and has co-authored a chapter with her partner, Adam Rothstein, entitled “Media Cyborgs” in the book The Non-Human in Anthropology.  She has published several book reviews and has two articles in Willamette Valley Voices, one about murals and pathways of heritage and the other about a regional “Flock and Fiber Festival” in Oregon.

Forrest Rule is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore 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 is in the Master’s program working in the Folklore, Anthropology and English departments. She studies 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.

Zachary B. F. Schwartz is a third year Master’s student in Folklore. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in History. Zachary’s areas of study include fan communities that are dedicated to such pursuits as comic books and politics, and the negotiation of identity in commodified culture.

Bruno Seraphin is a narrative and documentary film-maker whose interests include primitivism, folk revivals, comparative mythology, ecstatic mysticism, plant and animal epistemologies, folk schools, co-ops, radical social movements, and community based media and storytelling projects. He plays old-time music, calls a few square dances, and performed for years with the Green Grass Cloggers. He received a B.F.A. from New York University in 2009.

Mickey Stellavato is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Media Studies program at the School of Journalism and Communication, as well as a GTF in media production at the Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC).  After earning her M.A. at the UO in the Folklore Program (with a focus on film and oral history), 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.  Mickey 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.

Erin Swartz is in her third year of the Masters program, studying Folklore, English, and Arts and Administration. In the past she has done work on gender performance in MTV’s “Jackass,” internet communities, “lolcats,” and apocalyptic beliefs. She is beginning to put together a film for her terminal project which analyzes gender performance, rites of passage, and tradition at the Pendleton Round-Up, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

Yvonne Toepfer is a doctoral student 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.

Christy Vrtis is pursuing a PhD in English with a structured emphasis in Folklore. Her research interests include contemporary African diasporan women’s literature and folklore, Pacific Island literature and culture, ritual theory, new media and storytelling. Christy received her MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon in June 2010 upon completion of a master’s thesis entitled “‘Death is the Only Reality’: Notions of Death and Funerary Ritual in Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Literature.”

Jenée Wilde is in the English Ph.D. program with a structured emphasis in Folklore. Her research interests include contemporary American literature and popular culture, sexual identity and representation, sexual subcultures, fairy tales, and queer theory. Her essay titled “Queer Matters in The Dark Knight Returns, Or Why We Insist on a Sexual Identity for Batman” will be published in the forthcoming book, Batman Meets the Academy. She also has presented the essay at the 2009 Popular Culture Association national conference and at the University of Oregon’s Understanding Superheroes conference. In Spring 2010, she received the Bruce Abrams LGBT Award for her essay “Torchwood and Bisexual Representation.” She is currently doing fieldwork with polyamory and bisexual groups. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Goddard College and a BA in English and Journalism from Boise State University.

Meagan Winkelman is a second year Master’s student in the Folklore Program. She graduated from Ohio State University with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Folklore.  Her research interests include adolescent and delinquent folk practices, folklore and identity creation in digital culture, new media and the Internet, as well as the vernacular expression of conspiracy theories, apocalyptic beliefs, esoteric ideas, and occultic or “stigmatized knowledge.” Her essay, “McMeaning in the Maw of the Masses: Analyzing Fast Food Mash-Ups,” presented at the Indiana University/Ohio State University Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Conference in March 2011, received the overall prize for the best undergraduate paper, and is now published online in the journal Folklore Forum (Mediating Cultures: Proceedings from the 2010 IU/OSU Student Folklore Conference 42:1 [August 2012]), and available at http://folkloreforum.net/.

Rosemary Woodward received a B.A. in Music at the University of Oregon in 2008 and began pursuing her Master’s in Folklore with focuses in Ethnomusicology and Anthropology in the fall of 2009. 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.

Holly Yates is a second year graduate student in the Folklore Program, and also holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.  Her main interests are feminist writings and Vietnamese culture, but she also has a strong passion for fantasy and science fiction literature. Her current focus is examining Vietnamese folk narratives and traditions, as well as examining how these traditions are still relevant to the Vietnamese Americans who have created communities in the United States

Shelise Zumwalt is a third year Master’s student with a B.A. in Religious Studies, and an Undergraduate Certificate in Folklore from the University of Oregon. Her areas of focus include Folklore, Arts and Administration, and Anthropology. Her interests center around public folklore and issues of representation.