AFS Folklore & Creative Writing Section Members


Christina Barr has been the Program Outreach Coordinator for the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada, since 2003. Previously, she worked for the Nevada Arts Council and for the Vermont Folklife Center. She has a M.A. in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a B.A. from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Barr has documented traditional art forms, communities, and cultural issues around North America and abroad, and has shared her work through presentations about folklife fieldwork, scholarship,
and community based cultural work. She is a member of the Arts and Culture Advisory Board to the City of Elko, and is a founding president of the Salt Lake City based Culture Conservation Corps. In 2007 she received an Electronic Media Award for Best Documentary by Las Vegas Women in Communications for The 24 Hour Show radio series, which documents the lives and experiences of Las Vegas' casino and entertainment industry workers. An active participant in national and regional folklife and cultural
organizations, she has also served as a panelist and consultant for organizations and agencies around the country.

Teri Brewer has taught folklore, anthropology and run international fieldschools and study tours from Wales for many years, originally at the University of Glamorgan, but more recently at Cardiff University. Today she works increasingly as a public folklorist and interpretive trainer dividing her time between Wales and the US. One of the organizers of Sacred Music in Wales, she also coordinated fieldwork in Wales for the 1998 Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and has contributed to several other festival programs as researcher or volunteer. She has run workshops on cultural heritage interpretation in Canada, the US , Korea and the UK. She is currently on the curatorial committee for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Welsh program in 2009 and is also working on musical landscape mapping for the Arts Council of Kern in California. She writes occasional program notes, journalism, biographical essays, and poetry. She experiments with short essays and stories, podcasts and photography. She plans to take these experiments further!

Frank de Caro is Professor Emeritus of English at Louisiana State University and has lived in New Orleans since 2004. He received his M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and his PhD in folklore from Indiana. His books include Folklife in Louisiana Photography: Images of Tradition (Louisiana State University Press, 1990), The Folktale Cat (August House, 1992), Ballad Girls and Other Poems (Garden District Press, 2005), An Anthology of American Folktales and Legends (M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2008), and (with Rosan Augusta Jordan) Re-Situating Folklore: Folk Contexts and Twentieth Century Literature and Art (University of Tennessee Press, 2004). Recently he edited The Folklore Muse: Poetry, Fiction, and Other Reflections by Folklorists (Utah State University Press, 2008).

Norma Elia Cantú, writer, literary scholar and folklorist, teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her writing and research interests include Border Studies, literary theory, Chicana/o literature, women's rites of passage, feasts and celebrations, and creative non-fiction. She has published poetry, fiction and personal narratives, and authored the award winning Canicula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera (U of NM, 1995)and her most recent novel Champú, or Hair Matters. Her work has appeared in Ventana Abierta, Puentes, Chicana/Latina Studies: the journal of the Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, and in a number of other journals. Her work has been translated to Spanish and Italian. She teaches a summer seminar (The Spanish Roots of Chicana/o Folklore) at the Universidad de Castilla La Mancha in Toledo, Spain. She founded the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa. In addition to being a much sought after participant in literary readings, she is a frequent speaker on campuses and cultural centers on border and Chicana/o traditonal culture.

Susan Eleuterio is a volunteer workshop leader for the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing opportunities for adults in Chicago's neighborhoods to write weekly and publish quarterly in the Journal of Ordinary Thought.
Eleuterio has written about Chicago's folklore, the Irish in Chicago, glass ceiling stories, folk and dance costume, naming customs and Irish American material culture. She currently authors a blog, Diary of a Peace Activist, and is working on a book on cultural identity. She has taught English and Language Arts at the secondary level and College Reading and Writing at the college level. She is the Co-Director of Company of Folk, a midwestern non profit devoted to the research, preservation and presentation of the folk and local culture of Chicago and the southern shores of Lake Michigan.

Nicholas Hartmann is currently pursuing his MA in public folklore at Western Kentucky University, from where he will hopefully graduate in the spring of 2009. Although primarily interested in areas such as foodways and Nordic European culture, he also has an interest in travel writing. This interest, based mainly in poetry and creative nonfiction, has led to the creation of a blog titled Life in Wondermaa, a blog dedicated to topophilia, memory and the present moment.

Susan L. F. Isaacs is professor of English and Communication at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky. She writes creative nonfiction and poetry. Her teaching includes a broad range of writing courses from first year composition through advanced levels, as well as poetry writing. Her teaching incorporates auto-ethnography and literary journalism. In her own non-fiction work, she is consistently committed to evocative, engaging prose. Isaacs received her doctorate in Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania. Her studies there included work with Dan Rose, one of anthropology's pioneers merging ethnography, creative writing, and self. She has participated in the respected Hindman Settlement School Appalachian Writer's Workshop (2008). She recently completed an article on "Popular Print Media and Jewish Rites of Passage," which she was thrilled to get off her desk. Prior to coming to Union College, she was downsized from a museum position; soon after she created a highly cathartic--and funny--job burial ritual. Her work-in-progress includes an auto-ethnography of the event.

Steve Kruger has had the great pleasure of working for the North Carolina Arts Council, the Historic Happy Valley Project, the Avery Arts Council, and to satisfy his own unquenchable thirst for traditional musicians, storytellers, and craftsman since 2006. Most recently he successfully co-nominated banjo maker Clifford Glenn for the Brown Hudson Award and is working on several other projects including African American Shaped Note Singing, Appalachian string band musicians, a documentary on banjomaker, ballads singer and Kung Fu master Rick Ward, and getting accepted to grad school.

Elaine Lawless has taught folklore, women's literature, and women's studies at the University of Missouri since 1983. She teaches a wide variety of courses on ethnography, folklore and fiction, women's folklore and feminist theory, oral narrative, traditional religion, and folklore topics courses. She has published five books on women in the ministry, women's sermons, and women's narrative art. She has also published one book on the narratives of women living in a battered women's shelter and has another forthcoming co-written with her colleague in Performance Studies, Heather Carver, about their collaboration on The Troubling Violence Performance Project; the work is an auto-ethnographic performance text. Lawless has published over fifty articles in folklore and folklore-related journals. One of her latest articles, and her first creative nonfiction piece, will appear in Frank de Caro's forthcoming book, The Folklore Muse: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction by Folklorists (Utah State Press). Lawless has served as director of the Folklore Program at MU for many years and was Director for the Center for Arts and Humanities for three years. She was editor of the Journal of American Folklore for five years (2000-2005) and has served on the AFS board. She is currently the President of AFS.

Jon D. Lee is slowly meandering his way toward a Ph.D. in Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and expects to defend his dissertation any week now. His first book of poetry, Ode to Brian: The Long Season, was published in 2006. A second poetry manuscript is partially completed, as are a full-length novel and numerous short stories and essays. Jon currently lives in Boston, MA, and teaches English classes for both Emmanuel College and Suffolk University.

Keith Ludden, the Community and Traditional Arts Associate at the Maine Arts Commission, joined the Maine Arts Commission staff in the summer of 2001, and formerly served as a News Producer/Reporter for Nebraska Public Radio. Keith is a Nebraska native, and a graduate in Liberal Arts from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Keith’s theatre experience includes amateur roles in Lincoln, Nebraska, two years of summer repertory theatre in Maryville, MO, and a playwright in residence stint at the Great Platte River Playwright’s Festival in Kearney, Nebraska. He received his Master’s degree in Intercultural and Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, and graduate training in theatre history from the University of Nebraska. He has conducted folk arts and oral history fieldwork projects in Kansas, Indiana, and Nebraska. Among his first projects was a series of radio documentaries on Plains tradition-bearers. While working for Nebraska Public Radio, Keith produced a series of radio documentary modules on Latino culture, as part of the Nuestros Tesoros project, sponsored by the Nebraska State Historical Society and the Nebraska Mexican-American Commission. Since joining the Maine Arts Commission, Keith has overseen the Discovery Research program and the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program, as well as a series of projects encompassing arts and humanities at the community level. In 2007, Keith implemented the Capacity Building program at the Maine Arts Commission.

Jens Lund holds a Ph.D. in folklore and American Studies from Indiana University and an M.A. in American Studies from Bowling Green State University. In 1999, he was a participating field researcher in Duke University Center for Documentary Studies' "Indivisible" project, interviewing timber workers in Montana, commercial fishers in Alaska, and environmentalists in both states. In 1997-1999, he documented occupational poets in the western United States and Canada for City Lore Inc., and helped organize the first People's Poetry Gathering in New York City. As director of the Washington State Folklife Council, Jens helped organize the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering for the Western states (Elko, Nevada, 1985) and the first logger poetry gatherings in the Northwest (1986-91), and developed a statewide exhibition of Washington folk arts in celebration of Washington's Centennial. Between 1975 and 2003, he worked as a contract fieldworker in twenty-three states. Lund's and Dillon Bustin's 1985 documentary film The Pearl Fishers, about freshwater pearl-fishing in Indiana, was awarded the "Best Ethnographic Film: The Americas" from the American Anthropological Association. A part-time faculty member at the University of Washington, Lund has been a consultant and contract researcher for the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and numerous arts agencies and museums. Since 2004 he has been managing the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. In 2004 he received the American Folklore Society's Benjamin A. Botkin Prize "for significant achievement in public folklore." Jens Lund is the author of Flatheads and Spooneys: Fishing for a Living in the Ohio River Valley (Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1995), Folk Arts of Washington State, and many articles and reviews.

Joanne B. Mulcahy teaches at The Northwest Writing Institute, Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Her essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including The Stories that Shape Us: Contemporary Women Write about the West and These United States. Her awards include fellowships from The Oregon Institute of Literary Arts, the New Letters nonfiction award, and grants from The British Council, the Alaska Humanities Forum, and the Oregon Council for the Humanities. She has been awarded residencies at Caldera, The Espy Foundation, Hedgebrook, The Mesa Refuge, The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and UCross. She is the author of two books about traditional healers: Birth and Rebirth on an Alaskan Island and Remedios: The Healing Life of Eva Castellanoz (forthcoming from Trinity University Press, 2009).

Kirin Narayan has drawn on folklore—and especially folk narratives—in crafting ethnography, fiction, and a family memoir. Her dissertation, written under the guidance of Alan Dundes, focused on Swamii, a garrulous, self-described ‘topsy-turvy’ holy man in Western India who conveyed teachings through stories. This dissertation became Storytellers, Saints and Scoundrels: Folk Narrative as Hindu Religious Teaching (1989) which won the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing and was co-winner of the Elsie Clews Parsons Prize for Folklore. Subsequently, Narayan also undertook a collaboration with Urmila Devi Sood, a village woman from Kangra, Northwest India, bringing together Urmila Devi’s repertoire of tales along with discussions of their meaning and ethnographic contexts, in Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon: Himalayan Foothill Folktales (1997). Narayan has also published a novel, Love, Stars and All That (1994). Her family memoir My Family and Other Saints (2007) draws on the creative energy of family stories to recount transnational spiritual seeking in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Currently Narayan is working to complete an ethnography on Kangra women’s narrative songs.

Rebecca Penick received her BA and MA in English at George Mason University after working for many years as a medical and surgical nurse, including work in a Clinical Research Unit, funded by the National Institute of Health to study rare and incurable diseases. She began writing stories as a teenager, and now enjoys writing both poetry and prose.

Leslie Prosterman is currently a Senior Fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School University in New York, museum consultant and curator of special projects including Framing the Exhibition: Multiple Constructions (2000), and a sometime trapeze student at Arachne Aerial Arts in Washington, D.C. and the Circus Center in San Francisco. Formerly a tenured associate professor of American Studies and Folklore, she has returned to the public sector as a scholar and activist after twenty years in academia. She uses her folklore training in fostering community-based or grass-roots arts programs and in the strengthening of civil society through the arts. She writes about the politics of exhibition and display, law and art, and comparative aesthetics.. Her most recent academic work "'Subtle, Intangible, and Non-quantifiable': Aesthetics, Law, and Speech in Public Space" is published in the collection The Arts of Democracy (2007). It continues her work in aesthetics and community begun with Ordinary Life, Festival Days: Aesthetics in the Midwestern County Fair (1995), for which Margaret Yocom helped create the title. She has been writing poetry since 1999. This coming fall, three of her ethnographic poems commenting on poetry workshops and readings appear in the volume of creative writing edited by Frank de Caro called The Folklore Muse (2008).

Anne Pryor has worked as a folklorist with the Wisconsin Arts Board since 1997. She specializes in folklore in education by creating curricular resources and professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers. Her favorite past projects include the team efforts behind the websites Wisconsin Weather Stories and Wisconsin Folks, and the book Kid’s Guide to Local Culture (with Ruth Olson and Mark Wagler). She is a co-founder of Wisconsin Teachers of Local Culture, a group that has become a treasure. She has written about ethnography in the classroom, narrative on stage, religious shrines, and, most recently, Hmong blacksmithing. An ongoing research interest outside her WAB work is Marian apparitions, especially in regard to the intersection of narrative and sacred space. She is venturing into fiction by writing a novel about pilgrims on their way to an apparition, the inspiration for which emerges from fieldwork experiences.

Rachelle H. Saltzman, Ph.D. has been the Folklife Coordinator for the Iowa Arts Council/Department of Cultural Affairs since 1995. Her most recent work is Iowa Folklife 2, an online multicultural folklife curriculum and a companion to Iowa Folklife: Our People, Communities, and Traditions, also online (both at Her current book project is the forthcoming A Lark for the Sake of Their Country (Manchester University Press), which examines the role of upper and middle class strike breakers in defining Englishness during the 1926 General Strike. In collaboration with Iowa Public Radio, Saltzman produces "Iowa Roots," a radio series and website that explore cultures and traditions. With funding from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, she researched and developed a website on place-based food in Iowa (both websites at Saltzman also works with a variety of communities and individuals to provide assistance with multicultural and diversity issues, project development, event planning and implementation, presentation of traditional arts and artists, grant writing, and curriculum content. She is the author of numerous public folklore publications as well as peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of American Folklore, Anthropological Quarterly, Journal of Folklore Research, New York Folklore, Southern Folklore, Southern Exposure, and edited collections.

Amy E. Skillman is Vice-President of the Institute for Cultural Partnerships and its director of arts and heritage programs. For eight years prior to joining ICP, she served as the director of State Folklife Programs at the Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission. She was the coordinator for cultural heritage programs at the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center for two years before moving to Pennsylvania in 1988. She received her Masters degree in Folklore and Folklife from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979 and her Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University in a self-designed major Cultural Minorities and the Immigrant Experience. As a folklorist working in multiple communities, Skillman advises community-based organizations and artists on the development of folk arts and folklife programs, guides them to potential resources, and develops programs to help build their capacity to sustain these initiatives. In that context, Skillman has developed a variety of public programs to honor and bring attention to the issues of importance to these communities. Her current work includes a leadership empowerment initiative using creative writing with refugee and immigrant women, a statewide traveling exhibition on the folk arts of Pennsylvania, and an arts residency with alternative high schools students that draws upon ethnography and arts to engage them in giving voice to their perspectives. Her own creative writing reflects her experiences as a folklorist and often occurs late at night in the glow of the computer, where it will remain until it is ready to blossom.

Bonnie Sunstein is Professor of English and Education at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where she directs both Undergraduate Writing and English Education and teaches non-fiction writing, ethnographic research, folklore, and English. With her co-author, Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater, she has written three editions of Fieldworking: Reading and Writing Research, a textbook for doing field-based research studies (Bedford St.Martins, 1997, 2002, 2007) and another book about conducting teacher research, What Works? A Practical Guide for Teacher Research. She is author of Composing a Culture, (Boynton-Cook, 1994), and has co-edited three collections of articles about portfolios. In 2000, she received an “Imagining America” grant from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation for a website "FieldWorking Online,” a virtual community for student and faculty researchers. Her chapters, articles, and poems appear in many professional journals and books. Among other writing projects, she is currently working on a book about nonfiction writing, and conducting two studies involving student collaborative writing partners: one in high school geometry and one between pre-service English teachers and ESL students.

Since 1996, Jacqueline Thursby has taught folklore, mythology, American culture studies, and secondary English methods in the English Department at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. Among her courses have been “Women’s Culture: Women’s Folklore,” “Myth, Legends, and Folktales,” and “Folklore in Literature.” She has written several articles, chapters and books on subjects ranging from folklore, cultural studies, and ethnography to literature, classroom literary discussion, and English pedagogy. She has edited a special issue of Western Folklore on contemporary hunting and fishing, and is currently co-editor of Digest, a publication of the Foodways section of the AFS. Her publications include five books (Mother’s Table, Father’s Chair: Cultural Narratives of Basque American Women: Utah State UP, 1999; Begin Where You Are: Deseret Press, (Utah) 2004; Funeral Festivals in America: Rituals for the Living, UP Kentucky, 2006; Story: A Handbook: Greenwood P, 2006; and Foodways: A Handbook, Greenwood P, 2008). Her current book project is a discussion of folklore in world literature and will be published by Utah State UP. Active in department, college, and university committee work, she is slated to be director of BYU’s the secondary English teaching program beginning in fall, 2009.

Jeff Todd Titon grew up in New York and Atlanta. After college at Amherst and doctoral work at the University of Minnesota, he taught folklore and ethnomusicology at Tufts. Since 1986 he has been a professor at Brown where he directs the PhD program in ethnomusicology. His folklore-related fiction, "Letter from Ole Bull to Sara Thorp," was published in the Summer 2004 issue of the Journal of American Folklore, and his short story, "Percy," was published in The Folklore Muse, edited by Frank de Caro.

Libby Tucker has taught folklore at Binghamton University for the past 31 years. She has published three books: Campus Legends: A Handbook, Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses, and Children's Folklore: A Handbook. In 2002, remembering Dick Dorson's work on folklore and heart disease, she decided to write about her own experience with cancer. She is glad to be part of the group of writers who have made The Folklore Muse such an exciting publication. Her email address is ltuckerAT

Since 1977, Margaret Yocom has taught folklore in the Department of English at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Among her courses is "Living Words: Folklore and Creative Writing." She has written about Inuit folktales, ethnographic fieldwork, regional study, family folklore, gender, material culture, and folklore and creative writing. Her most recent work includes "'We'll Take Care of Liza and the Kids': Spontaneous Memorials and Personal Response at the Pentagon, 2001" in Spontaneous Shrines and Other Public Memorializations of Death (2006, ed. Jack Santino). Her current book project features the traditional arts of the Richard family of Rangeley, Maine. Active in public sector folklore, she is the curator and archivist at the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum. She serves as American Folklore Society liason to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Her poetry and creative non-fiction comes from encounters in her fieldwork areas of northwestern Maine and southeastern Pennsylvania, and has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Daily Bulldog, Friends Journal, and Voices. Email: myocomAT gmu .edu.

Steve Zeitlin is a folklorist, filmmaker, writer, and cultural activist. He is the founding director of City Lore, an organization dedicated to fostering New York City – and America’s – living cultural heritage. He is a commentator for public radio, and is the author or co-author of a number of books on America’s folk culture, including Because God Loves Stories: an Anthology of Jewish Storytelling, City Play, The Grand Generation, a book of poems, I Hear America Singing in the Rain, and three books for young readers. He teaches the class, “Writing New York Stories” at Cooper Union. He has documented, recorded and fallen in love with carnival pitches, children’s rhymes, family stories, subway stories, ancient cosmologies, and oral poetry traditions from around the world.

top of page