Instructor (Spring 2013)
FOLK-364: Children's Folklore
Instructor (Summer 2011)
FOLK-101: Introduction to Folklore
I designed and taught this class in the Summer of 2011. Its goal was to teach a working definition of the term folklore, explore its relationship to other forms of cultural expression, and provide some key concepts with which to analyze folklore. Each class, we learned about a component of folklore expressions (such as aesthetics, community, identity, and tradition) and put them in a performance context, using concrete examples. The class culminated in an 8–10 page paper that documented and analyzed an individual's folklore practices. You can download a copy of the syllabus here.Top of page
Instructor (Spring 2011)
CLLC-220: Folklore and Star Trek
I designed and taught this class in the Spring of 2011 for the Collins Living-Learning Center, a residence hall at Indiana University that sponsors classes designed with experiential learning in mind. Collins residents are required to take a certain number of these classes, which count towards Indiana University core requirements. My course approached the theories, methods, and issues of folkloristics and ethnography through an examination of the popular science-fiction television show Star Trek. The show's fundamentally ethnographic mission allows studednts to investigate important issues in the discipline such as ethics, social justice, representation, cultural relativism, power, and identity. In addition, the show itself has spawned an eclectic folk group—"Trekkers"—with their own diverse folk practices. The course culminated in a field trip to a science-fiction convention in Denver, Colorado, where students conducted ethnographic fieldwork for their final papers; the Denver Examiner wrote up an article on the convention containing a quote from one of my students. You can download a copy of the syllabus here.Top of page
Associate Instructor (2007–2009)
FOLK-101: Introduction to Folklore
This course seeks to introduce students—primarily non-majors—to the basic historical, theoretical, and methodological assumptions of the discipline. Students in this course are asked not only to consider the creative expressions of cultures often foreign to them, but also to think about the folkloric practices present within their own lives. To accomplish these dual goals, students complete assignments that are both ethnographic and analytical, culminating in an extended fieldwork project of eight to twelve pages that focuses on the folklore of a particular individual in the community. The informants the students work with vary, but span a broad range of community and family members, with folklore practices as diverse as quilting, cooking, carving limestone, making marijuana paraphernalia, playing drinking games, and telling jokes, among others. In their projects students attempt to either see a different culture for the first time or to look at their own culture in a new way.Top of page
This is a syllabus I designed to highlight the overlaps between folkloristics and traditional literary studies. The course introduces students to the methods and theories of folkloristics, examining key concepts such as tradition, context, performance, and worldview. Each week, students also read or view/hear folk literature texts. You can download a copy of the syllabus here.
This course will investigate the broad range of popular literature as it manifests in vernacular works written in late-medieval England. This survey will touch upon representative texts that demonstrate the diversity of medieval popular literature and point to some of the key features that define the genre. One of the primary goals of the course will be to answer this question, to arrive at a working definition of the term popular literature. In both scholarly and common parlance, popular literature has been defined by its perceived lack of aesthetic and intellectual merit; its association with uneducated, often lower class, audiences; and its transient character, relevant only to contemporary audiences, rather than remaining meaningful to generations of readers. Throughout the course, we will challenge these assumptions, examining the aim, meaning, and function of popular literature in medieval England. You can download a copy of the syllabus here.
This course seeks a greater understanding of what is termed vernacular art—those art forms created by non-professionals, some of which may not be recognized as art even by its creators. The sheer amount of art produced and shared on the Internet is staggering; there is no way that every genre of Internet art can be covered in this class. Instead, we will look at several case studies that can help us understand the deeper issues that drive art on the Internet: personal and group identities, audience participation, globalization and modernization, variation and intertextuality. Throughout the semester we will attempt to assess the extent to which vernacular Internet art is or is not a new form, discuss the ways in which vernacular culture on the Internet participates and interacts with popular culture and the mass media, and examine how vernacular Internet art encourages the creation of artistic communities. You can download a copy of the syllabus here.
I am a graduate student in folklore and medieval studies at Indiana University. I work generally with medieval religious folk culture. My current research is on medieval saints' legends and vernacular models of sanctity.