Folkwise will be at the American Folklore Society’s Annual Conference!

Find us talking folklore throughout the event!

This year’s AFS Annual Meeting (October 18th-23rd, 2021) has given the Folkwise team a unique opportunity to assist with hybridization this year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic lingering far longer than any of us had hoped, AFS has chosen to hold a part-virtual (hosted through an online portal) and part in-person (Harrisburg, PA) annual meeting. In an effort to help this conference feel less like two different experiences and more like one unique event, Folkwise has been hired to assist in making the experience feel more hybridized for conference attendants. Members of our team will be hosting virtual events and experience live on Twitch as well as in-person for audiences at home who could not attend the in-person Harrisburg portion. We will also be hosting live-streams of the plenary addresses and large lectures so the audience watching from home can feel as much a part of the experience as possible throughout the event. Find us online or at Harrisburg in a few weeks away!

***To view events not streamed Live on Twitch, you must register to attend the American Folklore Society Conference. Registration information linked here!

Folkwise at AFS 2021 Schedule

* All times listed in Eastern Standard Time *
Monday (Oct. 18th):

1:00PM – 2:00PM
Becoming Folkwise: Sustaining Digital Community while Socially Distant

Presenters: Jared L. Schmidt (Chair), Christine J. Widmayer, Daisy M. Ahlstone, Dominick Tartaglia, Kaitlyn L. Kinney
In this roundtable, we discuss how folklorists can not only physically and socially distance but also foster a strong sense of community and create innovative and engaging educational content in the process. After reconnecting early in the pandemic through the Virtual Social Distancing Folklore Happy Hour and lively Facebook group chats, a group of early-career folklorists decided to launch their own social media brand, Folkwise. This thoughtful and transparent roundtable discussion will explore the potentiality of social media platforms to enhance our discipline’s reach and inspire new audiences. Discussion topics will range from the use of Zoom as a pixelated happy hour, to the early trials and tribulations of developing a YouTube channel, the capacity for Twitch gaming streams to encourage folkloric discourse, to spheres of digital intimacy in the age of COVID-19.

2:15PM – 3:45PM
Pandemic Pedagogy: What We’ve Learned and What We’ll Carry Forward
Christine J. Widmayer
Over the past year, pedagogical approaches changed dramatically as courses moved to remote, online, and hybrid formats during the COVID-19 pandemic. As instructors, we adapted our methods to the times, finding ways to help our students through pandemic conditions while also revising our assignments and content to address current challenges. Looking back on the past year of teaching, this roundtable discusses what we have learned from our innovations and asks participants and the audience to consider what they will carry forward as we move out of the pandemic. What worked? What do we hope to retain in our post-pandemic teaching?

7:00PM – 8:30PM
Continuing Conversations, Communicating Death
Kaitlyn Kinney
“The Dead Still Speak: Repiner Narratives and Conarration in the Death with Dignity Movement”
: Death with Dignity as a thanatological social movement offers insight through their participant’s personal experience narratives into how vernacular death communication in the United States is undergoing dynamism. In this paper, I explore this through the repiner narrative — a personal experience narrative that communicates others’ intersubjective traumas of medicalized death or dying. Analyzing these repiner narratives both structurally and performatively in the digital space of the “Death with Dignity: Stories” archive reveals the development of a form of conarration used to incorporate the voices of the dead into the teller’s personal experience narrative.

Tuesday (Oct. 19th):

8:00PM – Midnight
Folkwise Live on Twitch
Folkwise live-streams LIVE on Twitch every Tuesday from 8PM-Midnight EST. This week, Daisy Ahlstone and Dom Tartaglia (the usual co-hosts) along with appearances from the whole Folkwise team will be discussing the role of professional societies to the field of folklore, reflecting on the joys and memories of past AFS experiences, and getting excited together as we gear up for our conference week in Harrisburg. Our interview guest this week will be none other than our own Chrissy Widmayer! In the background of the conversation, the team will be playing the Sims4, crafting themselves into characters while continuing their series imagining the Folkwise Dream Team Co-op.

Wednesday (Oct. 20th):

7:00PM – 8:30PM
Folklore in Film and Television
Jared L. Schmidt
“Bela ‘Dracula’ Lugosi’s Cape: Preserving, Perpetuating, and Popularizing a Cinematic and Family Heirloom”: In 1931, Hungarian immigrant Bela Lugosi loomed large on the silver screen in Dracula as the titular Count. Lugosi’s portrayal transformed popular vampiric representations from undead, shambling revenants to impeccably dressed sophisticates. After filming, Lugosi retained an original costume element from the Dracula aesthetic he created – the cape. Drawing on interviews with the Lugosi family and Academy Museum curators, this presentation explores this iconic cape’s object biography from costume to family heirloom to museum exhibit. This presentation details how association with Lugosi imbues the original cape and subsequent replicas with numinosity and notoriety perpetuated by thousands of Americans at Halloween.

9:30AM – 11:00AM
Women in/and the Folklore of Ireland and the U.K.
Caroline H. Miller
“Diversity Within: Identity and Traditionality among Irish Traveller Women”:
Diversity among Irish Travellers is seldom recognized by outsiders. One example of this diversity is the extent to which one is considered a “traditional Irish Traveller.”This paper explores how and to what ends Traveller women enact and express their identity as it relates to a continuum of traditionality. This paper examines how Traveller women’s performances of traditionality intersect with their other identities by examining their interpretations of how and when they utilize various aspects of their cultural toolboxes. Additionally, this paper investigates the factors that influence which aspects of Traveller tradition are chosen as symbols of shared cultural heritage.

9:00PM – 11:00PM
Spectral Frequencies: A Reading of Australian Horror Radio Plays from the Mid-20th Century
Kerry Kaleba, Jared L. Schmidt, and Dominick Tartaglia
It’s 1952, an hour before midnight in Country Victoria. You sit down in your well-worn leather armchair, you turn on the old Bakelite, and you wait. Slowly, the sound of wind fills your living room. “Have you heard them? Those fearful sounds in the dead of night? The shuffling step of a ghostly figure? The eerie voice of – The Uninvited?” Like the ghost itself, radio travels invisibly, drawing its audiences into a disembodied encounter marked by wonder, uncertainty and fear. Join us for a stage reading of selections from Australian horror radio scripts from the 1940s through the 1960s, sourced in Australian and New Zealand ghost legends and performed by AFS theatre artists and folklore scholars.

Thursday (Oct. 21st):

Folkwise will be assisting with recording and streaming of panels and ceremonies throughout the day.

Friday (Oct. 22nd):

8:30AM – 10:00AM
Popular Culture and Folklore in the United States
John E. Price
“NFL Films and the Manufacturing of a Popular Culture Mythology”: Beginning in the 1960s, the National Football League used its marketing machinery to elevate the role of professional football into an essential part of American popular culture. Through the language of metaphors and glorification, the NFL helped redefine America’s dominant image of itself and through NFL Films’ first feature-length production, They Call It Pro Football, football was reframed and reimagined for its viewers, transforming the game into an orchestrated performance of national identity. The result was the birth of a new type of national mythology, one constructed of popular culture, consumed by popular culture, and consecrated for popular culture.

10:30AM – 12:00PM
New Directions Forum: Opportunities and Challenges in Digital Folklore Research
Annamarie Morel-O’Brien
In this forum sponsored by the New Directions in Folklore section, our panelists discuss the challenges of conducting digital folklore research. Topics include issues of access and scope in virtual ethnographic research; publicity and the ethics of researching digital communities; and the difficulties of documenting a medium that is often fast-moving, ephemeral and subject to a variety of social and algorithmic filtering. As a forum, audience participation is highly encouraged, especially from scholars who are interested in sharing their own experiences, discussing methodological difficulties, or just learning more about digital methods.

9:30PM – 11:00PM
Folkwise LIVE From Harrisburg (streamed on Twitch)
Tune in to the Folkwise team on from your home computer, or come say hello to us in person. We will be live-streaming lighting-round interviews (about 20mins each) with attendants of AFS Harrisburg for our audience at home to get a sense for the conference and ask questions. Sign up ahead of time for an interview slot at or find us during the conference and get your name on the list! We will be asking standard questions to all guests about their connection to the American Folklore Society. ***Social distancing protocol and consent forms (available on-site) will be required for participation.

Saturday (Oct. 23rd):

8:30AM – 10:00AM
Agriculture, Environment, and Community
Samuel Kendrick
“Cropduster: Reframing Agricultural Aviation”:
The men and women who operate agricultural aircraft provide a service that has become essential to modern farming. Unlike commercial and general aviation, these pilots operate in close proximity to the ground, giving them a unique perspective in their interactions with the world. This presentation, the culmination of a 2020 Archie Green Fellowship, draws on fieldwork conducted in eastern Kansas and western Missouri and seeks to provide a clearer understanding of the men and women who have chosen to farm in the sky.

10:30AM – 12:00PM
No Longer “Humanique”: Posthuman Folklore and the Relationship between Humans, Plants, and Animals
Daisy Ahlstone
“Ostensive Behavior: The Effect of Storytelling on Non-Human Animals”: This presentation explores the relationship between ostensive practice and material behavior as represented in the legend of the thylacine’s present existence in Tasmania. This legend, coded in the physical representation of the thylacine, are maintained through a series of practices in the creation and expression of storytelling through artwork. The production and maintenance of a legend expressed in material forms that utilize semiotic representation are important for understanding relationships with extinct species.

2:00PM – 3:30PM
Traditions in Turmoil: Documenting Occupational Folklife in a Time of Occupational Upheaval
Samuel Kendrick
In this discussion forum, recipients of the Archie Green 2020 Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will explore the pandemic’s impact on occupational folklife, and use their personal fieldwork experiences to guide a discussion on challenges and strategies in documenting traditions when the context and performance of those traditions is in a period of major upheaval.

2:00PM – 3:30PM
Community Building: Barriers and Breakthroughs
Dominick Tartaglia
“Elegant Problems and Community Solutions: The Lower Eastern Shore Community Quilt”: In January of 2020, Dr. Joan M.E. Gaither came to the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art to lead a story quilt workshop. By March 2020, the United States, the Eastern Shore, and the Ward Museum were in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. When Dr. Gaither’s exhibit opened and the Lower Eastern Shore Community Quilt was installed, the Eastern Shore had created a work of art from many individual expressions that formed a cohesive whole. This paper will tell the story of the Lower Eastern Shore Community Quilt, the people who created it, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

9:30PM – Midnight
Folkwise Game Room!

This non-live event will include an opportunity for attendants of AFS Harrisburg to play console games (Super Smash Bros., Folklore-themed Quiplash, and more), as well as a pre-arranged TTRPG session (contact if interested in participating), and a series of board games.
*****This is the pick-up location for those who have purchased Folkwise Merch prior to the conference and indicated AFS-pickup on their order.

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