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Voices Fall-Winter 2011:
Click on the cover for the Table of Contents. Read “The New York Folklore Society Features ‘Legends and Tales ’ at Its 2011 Annual Conference” by Lisa Overholser here.
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Volume 37
Fall-Winter
2011
Voices

The New York Folklore Society features Legends and Tales at its 2011 Annual Conference

On Saturday, November 12, 2011, the New York Folklore Society hosted its Annual Conference around the theme of “Legends and Tales.” The conference was held at Binghamton University and included graduate student presentations, a public sector folklore panel, storytelling, readings, and great discussions.

The morning began with two graduate student panels, “The Fabled and the Fabulous,” and “Legendary Transformations.” The papers presented were thoughtful explorations into a range of topics, including folkloric perspectives on Shakespeare, the blues, film narratives, and legends, both historical and urban. Each paper session was followed by a lively question-and-answer period.

The keynote for the conference was presented by Dr. Elizabeth Tucker, folklorist and professor of English at Binghamton University. “Haunted Halls, Mansions, and Riverbanks: Legends of the Southern Tier” drew upon Tucker’s wealth of research into the folklore of the Southern Tier, and she shared many local hauntings, sightings, and legends that she had collected over the years.

Jaimee Wriston Colbert reading from her work, Shark Girls.
Jaimee Wriston Colbert reading from her work, Shark Girls. Photo by Ellen McHale.
Next, novelist Jaimee Wriston Colbert, also on the faculty at Binghamton University as professor of English and creative writing, read from her work, Shark Girls. The novel, set in Hawaii where Colbert grew up, weaves bits of local folklore into a story about a girl attacked by a shark.

We were pleased to invite two esteemed panelists, Dr. Kay Turner and Dr. Constance Sullivan-Blum, to contribute to the public sector folklore panel “Collecting Narratives after Disaster Strikes.”

Since 9/11, Dr. Kay Turner has been documenting the spontaneous memorials which have dotted New York’s urban landscape. Her ongoing documentation has resulted in her most recent program on the 10th anniversary of the attack on New York’s Twin Towers.Kay Turner, folklorist at the Brooklyn Arts Council, speaking about her work collecting narratives of 9/11
Kay Turner, folklorist at the Brooklyn Arts Council, speaking about her work collecting narratives of 9/11. Photo by Ellen McHale.

Dr. Constance Sullivan-Blum has been documenting the Southern Tier’s Flood of 1972, when Hurricane Agnes caused widespread flooding. “Transformation from Tragedy: Survivors Remember the Flood of 1972” is a local history project capturing the stories of the flood and will result in a documentary film in 2012. Both panelists discussed their work as public folklorists in documenting such pivotal events and collecting the narratives associated with them.

Following an informal reception, the conference concluded with an outstanding performance by internationally known storyteller Milbre Burch. “Changing Skins: Folktales about Gender, Identity, and Humanity” highlighted the wealth and persistence of gender-bending folktales and cultural expressions around the world. Her engaging and energetic performance piece was provocative and underscored the power inherent in the telling of tales.


 









Lisa Overholser is staff folklorist at the New York Folklore Society, where she manages the mentoring and professional development program and contributes to many other projects and initiatives. She holds a PhD in folklore and ethnomusicology from the University of Indiana.



The papers presented were thoughtful explorations into a range of topics, including folkloric perspectives on Shakespeare, the blues, film narratives, and legends, both historical and urban.



This article appeared in Voices Vol. 37, Fall-Winter 2011. Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society. To become a subscriber, join the New York Folklore Society today.

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