people
image of berkeley library

Students

ADAM CARL

Adam J Carl has had a lifelong fascination for Norse mythology, and was frequently unsatisfied with the subject's treatment by coffee table books, He is now pursuing a PhD in the Scandinavian Department, after studying at The Ohio State University the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, During his coursework, Adam found an interest in philology (Indo-European and Finno-Ugric), variations and performances of texts in oral tradition, and gendered performances in Norse literature. His previous research at Ohio State has attempted to locate feminine agency in Old Norse myths and legends, modifying the prevailing theories of Carol Clover's work on the Icelandic Sagas. This interest led to his study of some archaeological material from Norse Greenland, Birka, and various Danish digs in order to understand the daily life of the culture producing folkloric texts. Interart theory has also played a role in his past research at the University of Copenhagen, as Norse textile production plays a significant role in the mythology and legends. Though he has spun, woven, and carded, he tries (sometimes successfully) to look to modern, not medieval, Scandinavian fashion.

ALISON O'CONNOR-KORB

 

Born and raised in the East Bay, Alison O'Connor-Korb spent her undergraduate career in the forests of University of California Santa Cruz, earning a degree in Classical Studies and getting firsthand experience with narrative transmission at the campus' noncommercial radio station. Focusing on supernatural and fringe characters in epic poetry across multiple ancient traditions, she wrote on the topics of monstrous femininity in the Roman epigrammatic tradition and the unease between civilization and nature in Ovid's Metamorphoses for her comprehensive exams. A desire to explore the creeping terrors and magical snakes outside of Ancient Europe and a lifelong love of storytelling, mythology, and superstitions led her to Berkeley's department of Folklore. Alison is currently researching concepts of monstrosity in folkloric forms, in particular the way monstrous bodies appear, are defined, and are interacted with in their respective stories. She is also interested in bodily transformations, liminal and transgressive places and characters, and human-animal hybrids

BOB OFFER-WESTORT

Bob Offer-Westort comes to the Folklore MA program from over a decade of community organising in homeless communities in San Francisco and Berkeley. He's interested in the internal structure of narrative, how received narratives in turn condition our personal and political lives, and how stories change in movement between narrative communities and through time. His planned research focuses on the region between the Nile and the Red Sea. Bob holds a BA in Social Anthropology from Long Island University.

BRETT LEMKE

 

Brett Lemke is from from Madison, WI by way of Sacramento and Davis. He finished his undergraduate degree in the spring of 2015 at UC Davis in Evolutionary and Sociocultural Anthropology, and he is interested in the oral tradition of American Blues music. In the Folklore Program, he will be finding lost narratives of the remaining octogenarians who hold the tradition and helping to elucidate their stories in the transition to the digital medium.

CAITLIN BARBERA

 

Caitlin Barbera is a proud Coloradan and got her B.A. in History at Colorado College. While there, she became interested in the medieval history of East Central and Northern Europe, writing her undergraduate thesis on the interplay between paganism, Christianity, conversion and colonization in Lithuania in the Middle Ages. Folklore has been an important part of her life since childhood, when she became an avid reader of mythology, especially Norse mythology. A love of Irish music and a cappella singing has also given her an interest in folk songs and folk music. Her research interests include the conceptions of societal and otherworldly spaces in Old Norse literature. She is currently researching the locations and movements of magic and magic-users in Old Norse literature, especially in relation to gender roles. She has also done research on the interaction between traditionality and individual spirituality in Norse neo-pagan communities in the Bay Area.

CAMMERON GIRVIN

 

Cammeron Girvin is a PhD candidate in Slavic Languages & Literatures with a Designated Emphasis in Folklore. His research centers around the intersection of South Slavic linguistics and folklore studies; he is particularly interested in how speakers of Bulgarian and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian use linguistic forms to construct and display local and national identities. Cammeron's dissertation ties together his background in synchronic and diachronic Slavic linguistics with contemporary folklore theory to explore how elements of "folkloric" language-both small-scale linguistic features and larger poetic structures-were employed in the propaganda of socialist Bulgaria and Yugoslavia to create a new canon of national "folk" texts.

ELAINE YAU

 

Elaine Y. Yau is completing her dissertation in History of Art, with a Designated Emphasis in Folklore. Entitled "Acts of Conversion: Sister Gertrude Morgan and the Sensation of 'Black Folk Art', 1963-1980, it uses the career of this African American preacher and painter to argue for the central role of religion in establishing the institutional category of "black folk art" in relationship to 'outsider' and 'self-taught' art. Other research interests include theories of the vernacular, race and representation, and historiography of folk art in the United States. She also serves as an editor at Cultural Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal on the study of folklore and expressive culture. Elaine has a B.A. in Art History from Stanford University, and will probably regret the day that she has to leave the Bay Area.

ELIZABETH GILBERT

 

Elizabeth Gilbert hails from the Lone Star State, having received her B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Communication Management from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. During that time she spent a semester abroad where she conducted an independent study on the contemporary storytelling scene in Ireland. It was here she discovered an interest in folklore, mythology, and the ways in which culture can influence community relationships. This interest has led her to Berkeley to pursue an M.A. in Folklore and back to Ireland in order to explore the ways in which folklore is used politically and otherwise.

HECTOR BELTRAN

 

Hector Beltran is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology and received his M.A. in Folklore in 2010. He connects his graduate work to his computer science background, having received a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from M.I.T. His M.A. work was based on a computer class he taught at an organization in Oakland designed for recent migrants who identify as Maya. His thesis analyzed the social life of migration narratives from La Frontera Sur and the ways students worked to deconstruct the institutionalized borders of "new" media as they positioned themselves and other social actors along the participation and production maps at the core of "new" modes of circulation. Re-focusing his ethnographic lens on new media and tech producers, his current dissertation work investigates the circulation of cultural, ethical, and technical practices of hacking and tech entrepreneurship between sites in Mexico and the San Francisco Bay area.

JON CHO-POLIZZI

Jon Cho-Polizzi is a graduate student in the concurrent PhD programs in German Literature and Medieval Studies, and a concurrent MA student in UC Berkeley's Program in Folklore. He received his BA in German Literature and European History from UC Santa Cruz and his MA in Translation Science from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.His folkloric research interests include German diasporic communities in Asia and Latin America, ritual processes in the contemporary German village, Alemannic dialects, Fasnacht and the carnivalesque, the interplay between dialect and written language forms, and the rise of vernacular print in 15th century Europe.He is the managing editor of TRANSIT: A Journal of Travel, Migration, and Multiculturalism in the German-speaking World. In his spare time he enjoys alpine mountaineering, scuba diving, hitchhiking, and travel photography.