Faculty               Visiting Faculty               Faculty Emeriti               Alumni               Contact

students simple.jpg

Carl, Adam.png

Adam Carl

Graduate Student | Scandinavian

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.

Chapman, Gekka.jpg

Gekka Chapman

MA Candidate | Folklore

Gekka Chapman arrives at Berkeley with an English undergraduate degree in Literary Analysis and Critical Theory. A first-generation student, she seeks to study how social and individual identity is created, maintained, and negotiated, particularly through the lens of class. Her interests float around the hub of narrative and what it means to be a storytelling creature.

Cho-Polizzi, Jon.jpg

Jon Cho-Polizzi

Graduate Student | German Literature; Medieval Studies

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.

Feng, Xiangjun.jpg

Xiangjun Feng

PhD Candidate | East Asian Languages and Cultures

Xiangjun Feng is currently a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. He is at the same time pursing an MA in the Folklore program. Born and brought up in a semi-urban area of the Northwestern China, he became interested in any “knowledge” of, about, and from the peasants and other “common people” at his early age. He attended Peking University for undergraduate study, during which he also used one year to go to a remote village in rural China as a volunteer teacher. He taught in the village elementary school and also tried to learn all kinds of local knowledge in that year. After he got a BA in Chinese Literature, He went to Hong Kong and did an MPhil in Anthropology in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. At Berkeley he is mainly working on vernacular performance and their social space in China’s modern transition. He is trying to apply different methodologies in his work and, of course, folklore is one of the most important approaches.

Golan, Yasmin.jpg

Yasmin Golan

MA Candidate | Folklore | 

Yasmin joins the Folklore MA program for research on participatory death and dying practices in Vietnam and the United States, with an interest in the space held by non-state, non-medical actors at life/death thresholds, and the role of storytelling in visualizing death transitions. Her other interests include the circulation of stories and poetics and performance of gesture in professional kitchens. She is a chef by trade, an arts collaborator by inclination, and has a BA in History from UC Berkeley. 

Lemke, Brett.jpg

Brett Lemke

MA Candidate | Folklore

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.


Sarah Montoro

MA Candidate | Folklore

Sarah Montoro is a California native with a B.A. in Creative Writing and English Literature from Cal State University, Long Beach. An undergrad paper she wrote about the small group traditions of the Heaven's Gate cult, her time teaching ESL through play and storytelling in Brazil, and her life-long fascination with her own family lore fueled her interest in folklore, leading her to pursue an M.A. in Folklore at UC Berkeley. Today, Sarah's research interests include family folklore, internet culture, storytelling in public spaces, and the role of monstrous and supernatural figures in urban life. Her research project focuses on the occupational folklore of walking tour guides and the construction of collective memory and identity through narratives of the supernatural and strange in San Francisco.

O'Connor-Korb, Alison.jpg

Alison O'Connor-Korb

MA Candidate | Folklore

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.

Offer-Westort, Bob.jpg

Bob Offer-Westort

MA Candidate | Folklore

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.

Shaterian, Larisa.jpg

Larisa Shaterian

MA Candidate | Folklore

Larisa Shaterian has always been interested in how narratives make reality across boundaries of space, culture, and gender. During her time as an undergrad at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, she studied how photojournalistic images interacted with power in a US-Middle East circuit. At that same time she herself engaged in a 5 year documentary photography project with a Palestinian family in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem. She is currently interested in how narratives among and about humanitarian aid workers working on chronic refugee problems in the Levant shape and reproduce ideas of need and generosity both in the countries in which they work and the countries where they are from. Larisa also takes an avid interest in the ways humans talk to animals in different languages.


Rachel Syka

MA Candidate | Folklore

Rachel Syka graduated from the University of Virginia in Anthropology. Her project also springs from experience in the food world, specifically the Three Stone Hearth Community-Support Kitchen in Berkeley. She wishes to explore how notions of traditionality and materiality are shaped by material and bodily practices associated with social movements that privilege discourses of the handmade, cultural heritage, and natural foods in artisanal, community-based food production.

Cameron Johnson

MA Candidate | Folklore | Assistant Archivist

Having previously worked on collections at U.C. Berkeley’s Folklore Archive as well as those at the Minidoka National Historic Site and the Densho: Japanese American Legacy Project, Cameron’s interests are centered on the preservation and presentation of narratives in historically underrepresented communities. His current research within the Folklore program is concerned with the concept of archival authority and indigenous representation, specifically regarding the efforts to provide access to musical recordings produced and restricted in South Africa’s apartheid era.Cameron holds a B.A. of Anthropology and a minor of Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley and is eager to explore the various complexities of sound and object through a Folkloric lens.

Leah Simon

MA Candidate | Folklore | Archivist

Leah is arriving from New York City after finishing her undergraduate work at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. A current member of the Folklore program at U.C. Berkeley, she is motivated to research how nationalism and visual media inform sexual subjectivities. In her current research, she examines libidinal identities and their implications in practices of global gentrification. She hopes to better understand how popular perceptions of gender, authenticity, and sexuality have been discursively shaped in the past by the present and in the present by the past. During the time in her masters program, Leah looks forward to working closely with scholarship that focuses on womxn, the body, gender, and sexuality in folklore and postcolonial studies.