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Julie Hennigan spent the late ’80s and ’90s working as an archivist, an oral historian, and a touring musician, before returning to academia in the late ’90s, earning a Ph.D. in English and Irish Studies from the University of Notre Dame in 2009.  She currently works as an adjunct at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, while waiting for the perfect job to appear.  She continues to present and publish, and much of her work is still related to folklore (e.g.,“’Folk’ Vs. ‘Literary’ in Eighteenth-Century Irish Song” in Anáil an Bhéil Bheo: Orality and Modern Irish Culture, 2009;  “’The Old Irish Tonality’:  Folksong as Emotional Catalyst in ‘The Dead,’” in Short Story Criticism, vol. 118, 2009; and “‘The Power of a Lie’”:  Storytelling Tradition in The Playboy of the Western World” in New Hibernia Review, 2002).  She continues to perform, and is working on her second guitar book for Mel Bay (her first, DADGAD Tuning, was published in 1999).  She also has a CD on the Waterbug label called “American Stranger,” which features traditional American and Irish music, along with some originals.

Susan Hester

Susan Hester can’t bear to leave the Carolinas, but migrated in 2008 down to the Lowcountry,to Charleston, South Carolina. She recently completed her Master’s Thesis on Lowcountry art quilters, shifting from the world of music and bluegrass to material culture. Now she’s doing freelance writing for local cultural publications and soaking up Lowcountry life, from shrimp boils to boatbuilding–and they have a little bluegrass down there too.


Laurel Horton is an independent folklorist widely recognized for research on Laurel Hortonquiltmaking traditions ( She is the author of numerous publications, including the 2005 book, Mary Black’s Family Quilts: Memory and Meaning in Everyday Life, described by Dr. Bernard Herman as a “must read,” and “an effective introduction to material culture studies” (Choice). Her current research involves white embellished bedcovers of the early national period. Laurel and her husband, Wayne Richard, live in Seneca, SC. In addition to researching and making quilts, she is active as a gardener, sailor, shaped-note singer, and contra-dancer.

Barbara LaBarbara Lauu is the director of the Pauli Murray Project at the Duke Human Rights Center. Lau has more than twenty years of professional experience as a folklorist, oral historian, teacher, curator, radio producer and arts consultant. Lau earned a BA in Sociology/Urban Studies from Washington University in St. Louis (1980) and an MA in folklore at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2000). She previously held the position of Community Documentary Projects director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.Lau’s past projects include the Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life documentary public art project, curation of traveling exhibits about Durham’s Civil Rights Heritage and Historic Black Wall Street and guest curation of the collaborative exhibitions, From Cambodia to Greensboro: Tracing the Journeys of New North Carolinians for the Greensboro Historical Museum and From Cambodia to Carolina: Tracing the Journeys of New Southerners for the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina. She published an exhibit catalog, From Cambodia to Greensboro: Tracing the Journeys of New North Carolinians, and co-authored an award winning children’s book, Sokita Celebrates the New Year: A Cambodian American Holiday. Her publications credits also include articles in the North Carolina Folklore Journal and Mid-America Folklore, and a chapter, “Meetings at the Buddhist Temple: Signposts to a Changing South” in the volume, Southern Crossroads: Perspectives on Religion and Culture published in 2008 by the University of Kentucky Press.

Jim Leary is professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, where he served as director of the Folklore Program from 1999-2009. Currently the director of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures , co-editor of Journal of American Folklore, and a fellow of the American Folklore Society, Leary  received the Botkin Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in public folklore in 2005, and his book Polkabilly: How the Goose Island Ramblers Redefined American Folk Music was co-winner in 2007 of the American Folklore Society’s annual Chicago Folklore Prize for the best book in the field.

After leaving Chapel Hill, Josh Levinson served as Deputy Director of the DC Appleseed Center forJosh Levinson
Law & Justice, a public interest advocacy organization focusing on the nation’s capital.  He then moved home to Hawaii and was President & CEO of a nonprofit incubator, Community Links Hawaii.  Josh spent 2010 working as Field Organizer for former Congressman Neil Abercrombie’s successful gubernatorial campaign in Hawaii.

WiWilliam Lewislliam Lewis is the Executive Director of PineCone – the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc., a non-profit organization located in Raleigh, North Carolina. PineCone’s mission is to preserve, present, and promote all forms of traditional music, dance and other folk performing arts. Annual programs include concerts, radio shows, jam sessions, music camps, documentary projects, workshops, and more. Lewis is responsible for the overall coordination of PineCone events, all administrative functions, fundraising and financial monitoring, and professional representation of the organization. Lewis holds a Master’s degree in Folklore from
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Anthropology from Appalachian State University. He serves on the Executive Board of the North Carolina Presenters Consortium and is a graduate of the Leadership Bluegrass program offered by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Martha King is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill and Martha King
a graduate trainee at the Center for Genomics and Society. She received her BA in Archaeology and History from Furman University in 2000 and received her MA in Folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2006. Her dissertation research investigates Amish interaction with western biomedical models as a method for addressing questions about bodily understanding. She is currently doing fieldwork outside of Lancaster, PA exploring the relationship between the local Amish settlement and a genetic research/treatment facility serving that community. Martha’s research and teaching interests include community identity, phenomenology, medical anthropology, ethnographic practice, documentary experience, the North American South, and Anabaptists in the Americas.

Elizabeth MatsonElizabeth Matson supplemented her Folklore Masters with one in Library Science and is now a Youth/Teen Librarian in Arizona.


LauraLaura Orleans Orleans lives and works in New Bedford, Massachusetts where she is the creator and director of the Working Waterfront Festival, an educational celebration of commercial fishing culture.


Tim Prizer Tim Prizercompleted his Master’s degree in Folklore in 2009 and has now returned to UNC as a doctoral student in Anthropology.  His M.A. thesis explored the commemorative expressions of former workers in the now-defunct turpentine industry of south Georgia and north Florida, looking specifically at the role of landscape and material culture in workers’ occupational memory.  His dissertation research will take place in Japan and will explore the interconnected worlds of Japanese cultural preservationists and robotics engineers — groups who, in recent years, have begun to design and construct humanoid robots capable of performing traditional Japanese dances, ostensibly so as to preserve the dances as human performers age and pass away.  The dissertation project will engage questions ranging from memory, materiality, and performance to embodiment, ethnomimesis, and posthumanism.

MC Taylor has lectured for UNC’s folklore department and worked for the Center of Documentary studies since graduating with an MA in folklore. He is best known, however, for his musical work as the leader of Hiss Golden Messenger, recently featured on The Late Show with David Letterman.