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.

Bronner publishes Oxford Handbook, featuring work by many Penn State folklorists.

PACF Director emeritus Simon J. Bronner’s newly released Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife presents 43 chapters on a wide range of aspects in folklore and folklife studies by leading scholars. Among these chapters are essays by Bronner himself, as well as PACF Director Anthony Bak Buccitelli, PSU lecturer Mary L. Sellers, and alumni Amy K. Milligan, David J. Puglia, and Cory Thomas Hutcheson. For more on this volume, see here.

Foster and Tolbert’s The Folkloresque featured on New Books Network

Below is an excerpt from the NBN post. Read the full post and listen to the interview with co-editor Michael Dylan Foster here.

This volume introduces a new concept to explore the dynamic relationship between folklore and popular culture: the “folkloresque.” With “folkloresque,” Foster and Tolbert name the product created when popular culture appropriates or reinvents folkloric themes, characters, and images. Such manufactured tropes are traditionally considered outside the purview of academic folklore study, but the folkloresque offers a frame for understanding them that is grounded in the discourse and theory of the discipline.

Apes of the State to play at PSH on April 25!

Thursday, April 25, 2019. Stacks Market Stage, Olmsted Building at 7:00 p.m. Go to our Facebook page to let us know you’re coming!

Hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Apes of the State is a self-described “folk-pop-punk” group. Their first album, This City Isn’t Big Enough, debuted in 2016 and was followed with two national tours.

Influenced by storyteller singer/songwriters such as Paul Baribeau and Everyone Except Me, Apes of the State’s music combines a straightforward, emotional, and lyrical style with the drive and power of a full acoustic band. The group features Dan Ebersole on the mandolin/guitar, Mollie Swartz on the violin, and April Hartman on the guitar/lead vocals.

Their ever-changing sound is deeply rooted in punk rock, folk, and bluegrass, but with millennial sensibilities. Their songs explore love, heartbreak, student loan debt, regret, and overcoming addiction. As a band, they are driven by DIY ethics with a goal of helping as many people as possible with their music, and have been especially active in addiction recovery causes.

Whitney Phillips to lecture on “The Oxygen of Amplification: Folklore, Journalism, and Far-Right Trolls”

Monday, April 22, 2019. Morrison Gallery, Reception: 5:00 p.m., Lecture: 5:30 p.m. Go to our Facebook page to let us know your’re coming!

Whitney Phillips will provide a historical overview of the relationship between the news media and far-right manipulators who leveraged “trolling” and ”meme culture” during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. She will discuss the consequences of reporting on bigoted, damaging, or otherwise problematic information and the structural limitations of journalism (economic, labor, and cultural) that exacerbate these tensions.

Phillips is assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University. She teaches classes in media literacy and online ethics; online discourse and controversy; folklore and digital culture; and lore surrounding monster narratives, urban legends, hoaxes, and crime. She is the author of This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture (MIT, 2015) and the co-author of The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online with Ryan M. Milner of the College of Charleston (Polity, 2017). She is also the author of the three-part ethnographic report The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting on Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators Online (Data & Society Media Manipulation Initiative, 2018). Phillips has published dozens of popular press pieces on digital culture and ethics in outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Slate.

This event was jointly organized by the American studies program, the Pennsylvania Center for Folklore, and the School of Humanities at Penn State Harrisburg.

Russell Brakefield to read from his book Field Recordings

Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Oliver LaGrone Cultural Arts Center, Olmsted Building at 6:00 p.m. Go to our Facebook page to let us know you’re coming!

Russell Brakefield received his M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. His writing has appeared in national journals and anthologies including The Southeast Review, The Literary Review, and BOMB magazine. He has received fellowships from the University of Michigan Musical Society, the Vermont Studio Center, and the National Parks Department. He teaches writing at the University Writing Program at the University of Denver.

His book Field Recordings (Wayne State University Press, 2018) uses American folk music as a lens to investigate themes of personal origin, family, art, and masculinity. Inspired by the life and writings of famous folk music collector and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, Field Recordings explores the way art is produced and translated, the line between innovation and appropriation, and the complex, beautiful stories that are passed between us. From poetry readers to poets, music fans to musicians, this collection will
undoubtedly appeal to a wide audience.

This event was jointly organized with the Penn State Harrisburg School of Humanities’ Visiting Writers Series.