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.

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.