Education and Involvement
- I have a Master of Letters degree in Scottish Folklore from the University of Glasgow's Crichton Campus in Dumfries,
Scotland UK. I graduated in 2011.
- I served as the Warden of the student residence while residing at the Crichton.
- I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, emphasis Creative Writing from Western Michigan University
in Michigan USA. I minored in Comparative Religion. I graduated in 2007.
- While in undergrad I was a member of Sigma Tau Delta, a National Honors English organization.
- I made the Deanís List both semesters of my senior year at WMU.
- My current academic focus is the complex relationships between Self and Other and their impact on individuals and society,
through the lens of what I call "folklore to frighten." My dissertation, Buying Spirits: Narratives of Belief and the Importance of Ghost Folklore
concerns the role and impact of ghost experiential lore in contemporary Western society, and explores the narrative patterns surrounding belief.
- I split my allegiance between calling myself a Folklorist and calling myself an Anthropologist. Folklore is my favorite lens and I will always
argue for the value and vitality of story, but culture is what brings motivation and drive to my studies. I essentially seek to discover the ways
humanity as a collective creates community and erodes it, how we come together and why we sometimes tear apart. I believe that in a world which
is always changing and evolving, the strength of humanity and what allows us to thrive is our ability to adapt and change as a unit, using
intelligence and cooperation to allow everyone's skills to form a dynamic whole.
- Some of the other fields of interest which have influenced my studies and ideas include: behavioral science; cognitive science and articles I have
read on studies of the brain; religion; history; linguistics; and biology/zoology.
- While I think historical context is both fascinating and an important backdrop to greater understanding and grounding,
I like to then focus on contemporary lore and culture, and find insights on ways to improve the future through our modern vehicles of communication,
such as television, film, books, magazines, the internet, and of course oratory. I believe the study of culture and efforts to improve how we relate
and communicate on a larger scale is going to be instrumental in the next few decades as the world transitions faster and faster into an increasingly
global community. Finding ways to approach a more empathic civilization is going to ensure our surviving and thriving for the generations to come.
- Literature and language add dimension to my cultural explorations. The shared rhetoric of belief provides clues to the human fears that
underlie our grief and what we cling to.
- The ostension and performance of ghost and cryptid experiential narratives are another love, as well as the community that forms around
interest in these subjects, especially those who conduct ghost tours, seances, or ghost/cryptid investigation or "hunting." The narrative
aspect of these pursuits and the underlying thread of interest in spite of the variety of belief systems involved that brings sometimes
unlikely people together to share this niche is a lot of fun to analyze.
- I would like to investigate the fascination and desire for immortality in human thought. Whether talking about the idea of literal immortals
like vampires, of an immortal soul, of enduring legacies, or simply the idea that the human race will continue time untold into the future, we
place an enormous value on the idea that we have been and have been, and will be and will be. I'd like to know more about what drives our desire
for eternal continuance, both from a literary and a social viewpoint.
- I also have a fascination for paracosms. I myself have a rich inner world populated with various characters and I like to read about
the paracosms of others, as well as examine the subject from a psychological, creative, and cultural perspective. The ways paracosmic
creation are perceived and used are of particular interest because there is such a disconnect between the professionally accepted
benefits of using this type of imaginal dialectic and the public perception of it as a childhood fancy one grows out of or a pathology.
- I researched and wrote my Master's dissertation (a note to US institutions, this is the equivalent of a thesis) using the participant
observer method, which involved:
- cooperating with the Ethics committee
- conducting interviews
- self-directed work
- searching archived material
- attention to deadlines
- when necessary, negotiating and working in conjunction with advisors to meet goals.
- I studied Japanese for about five semesters and retain some small amount of understanding in it,
though the skill has sat dormant for a while. I have found that when I practice regularly I quickly regain vocabulary, and
when I am consistent with practice I retain the language well whether written or spoken. I have dabbled in Spanish, German, and French also,
and am always open to learning a new language if it would prove useful. It's been a goal of mine since high school to learn at least one other
language to fluency, and while thus far I haven't had the opportunity to hone those skills to that extent, I seem to pick up language well and am an excellent mimic when
it comes to pronunciation, so I'm confident that once I have the means for sufficient practice this is a goal I will reach.
Academic Pursuits Post-Graduation
- Volunteer at Gibside, a Heritage Trust property. Sadly, I had to leave the country before I could expand my experience here, but
learning about the property was fascinating.
- My ultimate goal at the time was to conduct research and tours as a heritage tourism guide and it's still work I'm interested in.
I'm interested in academic and historic tourism in general and am a frequent museum visitor. One day after I have exhausted my curiosity
for research (so perhaps when I'm getting ready to retire) I'd like to open a museum of my own.
- Always reading! And writing. I'm also a museum junkie.
- I am a current member of the American Folklore Society.
- I still collect stories, when I can, in hopes of expanding my data regarding personal experiential ghost lore.
- When I was having a difficult time finding work in New York, I decided to take on some kind of practical skill training so I could
support myself while I was trying to figure out how to rebuild my career. I went out and got a phlebotomy certificate in preparation for
possibly going into medical assisting. I hoped it would be an interesting and diverting job choice and that I would feel useful.
But I found the classes and the work disappointing. My approach to the course was far more academic than what was required and on task,
I felt less like a helping hand in healing and more like an extension of the needle. Subsequently taking a couple of preliminary classes
on my return to Michigan cemented it for me that I felt most comfortable and useful in the classroom. Learning is my element and
anything I do from here needs to include that kind of intellectual striving, and working with others who value it. I feel like this
experience gave me an important perspective and maturity that I might not have had if I'd never tried any field but academia.
While I do know I could thrive in a variety of positions, I also know now that it's not any frivolous pursuit to
seek the kind of employment where I can make use of my best skills and thus be the biggest asset possible. Wherever else I go,
whatever else I end up doing, I'll make sure it draws on my strengths.
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