Diane Goldstein eletta presidente dell’American Folklore Association

(via Jason Baird Jackson)

Diane Goldstein, docente all’Indiana University, autrice di Once Upon a Virus: AIDS Legends and Vernacular Risk Perception (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2004) e, co-autrice, con Sylvia Ann Grider e Jeannie Banks Thomas, di Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2007, Brian McConnell Book Award 2008 dell’International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, che aveva presieduto fra il 2004 e il 2007), è stata eletta presidente dell’American Folklore Society, l’associazione professionale dei folkloristi d’oltreoceano.

Ecco il comunicato stampa:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Diane Goldstein, professor of folklore and ethnomusicology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, will be the fourth IU faculty member to be elected president of the American Folklore Society.

As president-elect this year and president in 2012 and 2013, she will help preside over the organization’s 123rd annual meeting when it convenes this October at Bloomington. She had been a member of AFS’ board from 2004 to 2007.

Goldstein also is following in the footsteps of her late father, Kenneth Goldstein, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who had been a student at the renowned IU summer folklore institute in 1958 and taught at it in 1966. He was president of the AFS in 1976.“Being elected president of the American Folklore Society is a vote of confidence in Diane’s qualities as a colleague and mentor, and it presents Diane with a unique opportunity to advance her thesis that folklore studies has much to tell us about contemporary social problems,” said John McDowell, chair of the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. “We are proud of Diane and happy for her.”

Previous AFS presidents have included three faculty members of the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology: professors Richard Dorson, Linda Degh and Henry Glassie.

Other past AFS presidents with ties to IU have included alumni Michael Owen Jones, retired professor of history and folklore at the University of California at Los Angeles; and Bill Ivey, former president of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“I am a firm believer that folklore, in its various guises, has vital perspectives on critical social issues, and I would like to see the society become more involved in the pressing social and cultural issues of our times,” Goldstein told fellow AFS members prior to her election.

“I have extensive experience through interdisciplinary teaching, cultural and health policy committees, and through cross disciplinary team research, convincing others outside of our discipline of the significance of our disciplinary perspectives and would like to explore ways that we can better present those perspectives,” she added, “to make our relevance visible within the academy, with the public and with cultural policymakers.”

In an interview, she said her goal was to raise the profile of folklore studies in public policy as it addresses issues such as health care and nutrition, immigration, heritage and cultural preservation, as well as the potential role of folklore in peace-keeping.

Goldstein joined the IU faculty in 2010 after teaching at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), Canada, for 24 years and being awarded the university’s highest ranking research chair, University Research Professor. At Memorial University, she led its folklore department and its folklore archive. She also was chair of Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council Grants panel ( 2002-2004) and was president of the International Society For Contemporary Legend Research (2004-2007).

Her folklore research, as published in several books and journals, focuses on the role of belief and narrative in contemporary social concerns, as well as in folk religion and views of the supernatural.

For example, her book, Once Upon a Virus: AIDS Legends and Vernacular Risk Perception, looks at commonly told stories — urban legends — about the disease, focusing on the potential implications of those narratives for public health.

Told cross-culturally, stories about the origins of the disease, HIV-positive sexual predators and HIV-contaminated food do more than entertain, according to Goldstein. They articulate notions of risk, provide commentary on public health and offer insight into the relationship between cultural and health truths.

As a result of her research, Goldstein participated on several cultural and health policy committees, including a three-year appointment to the Canadian Federal Committee for AIDS Priorities and Policy. Goldstein has published three books on HIV/AIDS and one on folklore and terrorism. Her last book was on ghosts and contemporary folklore. Her current project examines narratives about mothers who kill their own children and the implications of those narratives for legal decision-making in cases of maternal infanticide.

“I’m thrilled. The American Folklore Society is an incredible organization. It’s always a nice thing to be elected by your scholarly peers,” she said, adding that it is “very unusual” for one university to be so frequently represented within the AFS’ leadership. “You won’t find that in other departments.”

Seguendo i links corrispondenti ai due titoli dei libri, è possibile accedere alla versione pdf degli stessi, sul repository della Utah State University Press. Il primo volume è stato recensito nel 2007 da Elissa R. Henken su Journal of Folklore Research reviews. Il secondo volume, Haunting Experiences, è stato recentemente recensito da Elizabeth Tucker, essa stessa autrice di un volume sul tema dei fantasmi nel folklore contemporaneo, Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007), ancora su Journal of Folklore Research reviews e da Linda Levitt su Transformative Works and Cultures 4 [2010].

Recensione di Ellis a “Urban Legends” (2007)

L’americanista e folklorista Bill Ellis (cui avevo già fatto riferimento in precedenza) ha recensito per il Journal of Folklore Research (che ha pubblicato la recensione sul proprio sito web) il volume collettaneo

Bennett, Gillian, & Smith, Paul (eds.) (2007). Urban Legends: A Collection of International Tall Tales and Terrors. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group

I curatori sono con Ellis fra i fondatori dell’International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.

La recensione, piuttosto critica sull’approccio di selezione, solleva alcuni interessanti punti. Invito quindi a leggerla qui.

Ancora legend-tripping a Supernatural

Domani alle 22.45 andrà in onda su Rai Due il diciassettesimo episodio della prima stagione della serie televisiva Supernatural, di cui avevo già scritto qui.

Come in quel caso, l’episodio che avrà nella versione italiana il titolo “La casa infernale” (nella versione originale era intitolato “Hell House” ed è stato trasmesso il 30 marzo 2006), è ispirato al legend-tripping di cui parlavo in quel post.

Recensione di due volumi sulle leggende contemporanee su Sociological Inquiry

Sul penultimo fascicolo di Sociological Inquiry compare una recensione di Pamela Donovan dei volumi Organ Theft Legends di Véronique Campion-Vincent (Jackson, MS.: University of Mississippi Press, 2005, originariamente apparso in francese nel 1997 col titolo La Légende des vols d’organes presso Belles Lettres di Parigi) e Rumor Mills: The Social Impact of Rumor and Legend, atti di un convegno tenutosi in Italia, curato dalla stessa Campion-Vincent con Gary Alan Fine e Chip Heath (New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction).

I dati bibliografici della recensione sono:

Pamela Donovan (2007, Februry). Organ Theft Legends, by Véronique Campion-Vincent and Rumor Mills: The Social Impact of Rumor and Legend, by Gary Alan Fine, Véronique Campion-Vincent, and Chip Heath. Sociological Inquiry 77(1), 128–130.

Il testo è, al momento (in quanto in una sample issue), liberamente accessibile qui.

Rumors and Urban Legends (Diogenes 54(1)/213, February 2007)

La rivista di filosofia e studi umanistici Diogène aveva pubblicato all’inizio dello scorso anno un numero monografico (numero 213, janvier-mars 2006) intitolato “Rumeurs et légendes urbaines” con interventi di sociologi francesi, statunitensi, argentini, australiani e britannici; quel numero appare ora nella versione inglese della rivista, Diogenes, col titolo “Rumors and Urban Legends”; all’interno sono presenti i seguenti articoli:

  • Gary Alan Fine, Rumor, Trust and Civil Society: Collective Memory and Cultures of Judgment, pp. 5-18;
  • Nicholas DiFonzo, & Prashant Bordia, Rumor, Gossip and Urban Legends, pp. 19-35;
  • Michel-Louis Rouquette, Rumour Theory and Problem Theory, pp. 36-42;
  • Jean-Bruno Renard, Denying Rumours, pp. 43-58;
  • Pamela Donovan, How Idle is Idle Talk? One Hundred Years of Rumor Research, pp. 59-82;
  • Gérald Bronner, A Theory of How Rumours Arise, pp. 83-105;
  • Emmanuel Taïeb, The ‘Rumours’ of Journalism, pp. 107-124;
  • Adam Burgess, Mobile Phones and Service Stations: Rumour, Risk and Precaution, pp. 125-139;
  • Emilio de Ípola, Bembas: The Life and Death of Rumors in a Political Prison (Argentina 1976-83), pp. 140-161

nonché il dossier bibliografico (che contiene anche due recensioni di altrettanti recenti testi italiani)

  • Véronique Campion-Vincent (ed.), Rumors and Urban Legends, pp. 162-199

Gli abstract dei contributi sono visibili a partire da qui (per l’accesso ai contributi stessi è necessario un abbonamento istituzionale o personale).

Episodio di Supernatural e legend-tripping

Il decimo episodio della prima stagione della serie televisiva statunitense (attualmente in programmazione su Rai Due al martedì in seconda serata) a tema paranormale Supernatural, era intitolato in originale “Asylum” ed era stato trasmesso il 22 novembre 2005 su quello che era all’epoca il network televisivo WB. Questa notte alle 00.30 ne è andata in onda la versione italiana col titolo “La rivolta”.

Lo segnalo perché è in parte ispirato al fenomeno che i folkloristi hanno etichettato col nome di legend-tripping, oggi studiato principalmente da William “Bill” Ellis, professore di inglese alla Penn State Hazleton e studioso di folklore contemporaneo, da ultimo nel suo interessante Lucifer Ascending. The Occult in Folklore and Popular Culture pubblicato dalla casa editrice accademica The University Press of Kentucky (di Lexington, Kentucky) nel 2004 (ne esiste una traduzione italiana coll’orrido titolo Il grande libro del diavolo, delle streghe e dell’occulto apparsa presso gli editori romani Newton & Compton nell’estate 2005, purtroppo non consigliabile).

Scrive Ellis, all’interno del capitolo sull’argomento (intitolato Visits to Forbidden Graveyards, pp. 112-141):

Ritual visits to uncanny places in the United States have been termed legend-tripping by folklorists who have studied the contemporary practice intensively since the late 1960s. […] [T]he legend-trip involves a set of cautionary legends that both warn of the danger of a site, and then function as a dare to visit the very place and carry out the ritual that leads to danger. The number of youngsters involved in this activity in unknown; however, surveys suggest that a significant proportion -between 14 percent and 28 percent- of American adolescents participate in legend-tripping in some way. Most will engage in one or two ritual visits out of curiosity, but several folklorists have noted the role of small groups of “experts” in publicizing and perpetuating the tradition […]. (p. 114)

Non è la prima volta che Supernatural si ispira a temi studiati dai folkloristi che si occupano di leggende contemporanee: negli episodi già trasmessi in Italia era già avvenuto con “La caccia ha inizio” (13.02.2007, episodio 1, titolo originale “Pilot”, ispirato al tema dell’autostoppista fantasma), con “Terrore allo specchio” (13.03.2007, episodio 5, titolo originale “Bloody Mary”, ispirato alla leggenda omonima) e, infine, con “L’uomo uncino” (25.03.2007, episodio 7, titolo originale “Hook Man”, ispirato alla leggenda intitolata “The Hook”).