Center for Folklore joins national roadside marker program celebrating folklore!

The center will serve as grant evaluator for William G. Pomeroy Foundation Legends and Lore Marker Program

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — A newly established partnership between the Pennsylvania Center for Folklore at Penn State Harrisburg and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation aims to put Pennsylvania’s folklore in the spotlight through a roadside marker grant program called Legends & Lore.

Established in 2015, the Legends & Lore Marker Grant Program helps to commemorate local folklore and legends with fully funded roadside markers.

“Folklore is around us all the time, everywhere, every day. It’s the stories we tell, the songs we sing, the things we make, the customs we observe, and so much more,” said Anthony Buccitelli, associate professor of American studies and communication and director of the Pennsylvania Center for Folklore. “The Pennsylvania Center for Folklore is delighted to partner with the Pomeroy Foundation to highlight the rich traditional life of the Commonwealth and the extraordinary creativity of its people and communities.”

The Pennsylvania Center for Folklore at Penn State Harrisburg serves as a focal point for folklore and folklife research, teaching, and educational programming at Penn State. The center conducts and manages research projects on folklore and folklife; provides students with hands-on experience in archival management and qualitative field research; engages the public with folklore and local historical source materials held or managed by the center; and coordinates with regional, national, and international organizations.

“The Pomeroy Foundation is pleased to partner with the Pennsylvania Center for Folklore at Penn State Harrisburg on our growing Legends & Lore program,” said Bill Pomeroy, founder and trustee of the Pomeroy Foundation. “This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the folklore near and dear to Pennsylvania. We’re proud to work with your communities in celebrating and preserving your folklore and legends.”

The Pomeroy Foundation is a private, grant-making foundation based in Syracuse, New York. The foundation helps people celebrate their community’s history through a variety of historic roadside marker programs, including Legends & Lore. The foundation’s grants cover the entire cost of a marker, pole and shipping.

Legends & Lore grants are available to 501(c)(3) organizations, nonprofit academic institutions, and local, state and federal government entities in Pennsylvania. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact an eligible local organization, such as a municipal historian or historical organization. They will often apply for the grant on behalf of the individual. To apply for a grant or review application guidelines, visit the Pomeroy Foundation’s Legends & Lore webpage.

To date, the foundation has funded more than 75 Legends & Lore markers commemorating local stories, including “Ichabod Crane” in New York State. The grant program is currently available in 11 states.

About the Pennsylvania Center for Folklore

The Pennsylvania Center for Folklore is committed to studying, documenting, and interpreting historical and contemporary cultural traditions and communities, especially in Pennsylvania, in order to promote greater knowledge of the diverse range of folklore and folklife across the commonwealth, region, and nation.

About the Pomeroy Foundation

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is a private, grant-making foundation established in 2005. The foundation is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history. To date, the foundation has awarded over 1,000 roadside markers and plaques nationwide through its Legends & Lore Marker Grant Program.

Folklore handbook featuring work by many Penn Staters given distinction by ALA

The Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies was edited by PACF director emeritus Simon Bronner, and featuring chapters by current director Anthony Bak Buccitelli, as well as current or former Penn Staters David J. Puglia (CUNY Bronx), Mary Sellers (Penn State, University Park), Cory Thomas Hutcheson (Kutztown University), and Amy K. Milligan (Old Dominion University). It recently was placed on the 2020 American Library Association list of Most Outstanding Reference sources. It is one of seven works selected for this distinction, and the only work in folklore studies! See the link below for more information:


Reference experts announce annual Outstanding Reference Sources list for adults

AMST PhD candidate Brian Zang wins American Folklore Society’s Bill Ellis Prize!

Below is an article highlighting the award. Congrats Brian!

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Brian Zang, a doctoral student in Penn State Harrisburg’s American studies program, received the American Folklore Society’s Bill Ellis Prize for his article, “Conservative Cyborg Synagogues: Extending the Virtual Arms and Legs of Religious Communities.” The article focuses on Harrisburg’s conservative Jewish community and its use of digital media, showcasing the dynamic, but limited ways they engage in expanding their boundaries through an online presence.

The Bill Ellis Prize, offered by the New Directions in Folklore Section of American Folklore Society, is awarded to the best graduate student essay that combines research and analysis on folklore, broadly construed, and digital culture, popular culture, or new media. The winning essay is submitted for publication in the section’s journal, “New Directions in Folklore.” The award was presented in October 2019 at the American Folklore Society national meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

Zang said, “This award is evidence of the good mentorship and long-standing expertise of the American studies program here at Penn State Harrisburg. I couldn’t have done it without the direction and skills-training I have received in my coursework from wonderful professors.”

Zang added that Anthony Buccitelli, assistant professor of American studies and communications at Penn State Harrisburg, introduced him to the hands-on approach to which he credits his recent achievement.

“He [Buccitelli] started me on the path of doing contemporary ethnography and community research,” Zang said. “The techniques were so new to me but we were encouraged to begin fieldwork immediately. This approach — evident in every other aspect of the program as well — has really driven theory into practice for a well-rounded approach to learning American Studies.”

Zang thanked Jeffrey Tolbert, assistant professor of American studies and folklore, who helped develop his writing from the bibliography to finished product. Zang also was mentored by Simon Bronner, distinguished professor emeritus of American studies.

Sign up for Folklore and Ethnography Courses in Spring 2020!

Undergraduate-only courses:

AMST 105 / ENGL 105 American Popular Culture and Folklife (Brandywine, Erie, Harrisburg, Schuylkill, Shenango, Web -Multiple Instructors)
AMST 170N/ ENGL 170N (formerly 196) Introduction to American Folklore (Mont Alto, Web -Multiple Instructors)
CAMS 45 Classical Mythology (Abington, Erie, UP, Wilkes-Barre, Web -Multiple Instructors)
CAMS 113 / CMLIT 113 / JST 113 / RLST 113 Myths and Legends of the Jews (University Park- Aaron Rubin)
CMLIT 108 Myths and Mythologies (UP, Web -Multiple Instructors)
CSD 269 Deaf Culture (UP, Web -Chilton)
HIST 203 History of Monsters, Aliens & The Supernatural (Harrisburg, Altoona)

Undergraduate/MA level courses:

AMST 482 Public Heritage Practices: Exhibit Design & Development (Harrisburg- Asbury-Newsome)
ANTH 457 / JST 457 / SOC 457 Jewish Communities: Identity, Survival, and Transformation in Unexpected Places (UP-Fleisch)
COMM 454 Documentary in Film and Television (Visual Ethnography Focused) (Harrisburg- Sadegh-Vaziri)

MA/PhD-Level courses:

AMST 530 Topics in American Folklore: Stories and Storytellers (Harrisburg- Buccitelli)
AMST 541 Ethnography of Technology and Media in the United States (Harrisburg- Tolbert)
CI 597-005 / AED 597-001 Special Topics: Sensory Ethnography (UP- Kimberly Powell)
LLED 563 Myths and Folktales in Children’s Literature (Web- Hopkins)

If you have questions about whether a course will qualify for the graduate certificate in folklore and ethnography, please contact Dr. Buccitelli.

Graduate students publish on folklore and ethnography topics in 2018-19!

Our American studies graduate students have had a great year in research overall, publishing and presenting their work on a wide range of topics and in many venues. Congratulations to these talented researchers!

Here’s a sampling of student publications related to folklore and ethnography from 2018-19:

Raven Haymond (PhD Candidate)

Tasting the Forbidden Fruit as Rite of Passage: Former Mormons Reflect on their First Sips of Alcohol and Coffee. Western Folklore 77, no. 3-4 (2018).

Jamie Kinsley (PhD Candidate)

 Pet Poultry: An Ethnography of York County, Pennsylvania Chicken Keepers. Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, no. 2 (2019).

Traci Langworthy (PhD Candidate)

The Many Lives of James Bird: From “Mournful Ballad” to Nostalgic Legend. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 142, no. 1 (2018).

Mary Sellers (PhD Candidate)

Folklore and Aging. In Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies, edited by Simon J. Bronner. Oxford University Press, 2019.

Brian Zang (PhD Candidate)

Review of “Hittin’ the Prayer Bones: Materiality of Spirit in the Pentecostal South,” by Anderson Blanton. Cultural Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Folklore and Popular Culture 17 (2019).

Review of “Jewish Magic before the Rise of Kabbalah,” by Yuval Harari, Western Folklore 77, no. 3/4 (Summer/Fall 2018), 368-71.

Note: If you have published work this year and would like to be included here, please email Dr. Buccitelli.

Sign up for fall classes in folklore and ethnography!

Undergraduate-only courses:

Cams 045 Classical Mythology (multiple sections, Abington/WEB)

Amst/Engl 105 Popular Culture and Folklife (multiple sections, locations)

Cmlit 108 Myths And Mythologies (multiple sections, locations/WEB)

Ger 157 Pennsylvania Germans (Putnam, UP)


Pro-seminars (Open to UG/MA/IUG/Certificate students):

Cmlit 408 Heroic Literature (Cheney, UP)

Amst 482 Public Heritage Practices (Fay- Archives; Asbury-Newsome-Curatorial, Harrisburg)

Amst 491W American Themes, America Eras: Religion and Belief in America (Tolbert, Harrisburg)


Graduate-level courses (Open to PhD/MA/IUG/Graduate Certificate students):

CI 512 Contemporary Educational Ethnography (Powell, UP)

CI 513 Video Ethnography in Education (Valente, UP)

Amst 540 Ethnography and Society (Tolbert, Harrisburg)

Lled 563 Myths and Folktales In Children’s Literature (Hopkins, WEB)


If you have questions about whether a course will qualify for the graduate certificate in folklore and ethnography, please contact Dr. Buccitelli.