305 C Alumni Bldg
Area of Interest:
Ethnography, Belief Studies, Folklife, Experience-Centered Anthropology, Public Folklore, African American Expressive Culture, Vernacular Art; African Diaspora, The North American South
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1989.
Research & Activities:
Research Background: My research field has long been African American expressive culture, with focused investigation of musical, poetic and belief systems in African American communities. I have directed my efforts towards both the academic and public arenas, working towards integrating ethnography, theory, and publicly accessible presentation. Much of my public sector work has been conducted in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and the Folk Arts Section of the North Carolina Arts Council. For the last four years, I have served as co-director-along with Dwight Rogers in the School of Education-of the "Curriculum, Music, and Community" project, an educational initiative that is re-centering the curricula in 4th-grade public school classrooms around the study of local musical traditions.
Present Research: While working with African American gospel singers, I became intrigued with the performed links between public expression and private experience. This interest has led beyond the sanctified church to a broader investigation of traditions of "collaborative communication," when mortal speakers and transcendent entities are said to share responsibility for communication. Within the African American church, I am currently exploring the ways that this link has yielded-and continues to yield-a broad body of "dream songs" (or "gift songs") that are said to come from the Holy Spirit. Additional projects address African American vernacular poetics, the play of ethnographic authority in the public presentation of tradition, and—currently—vernacular artistic responses in North Carolina to 9/11 and the wars that have followed in its aftermath.
2009. Folklife. Volume 15 of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, eds. Glenn Hinson and Bill Ferris. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
2009. Folklife. Volume 15 of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, eds. Glen Hinson and Bill Ferris. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
2002. "Crafting Fictions, Telling Truths: Creative Collaboration in the Photography of Roland L. Freeman." Exposure 35:2: 17-26.
2000. Fire in My Bones: Transcendence and the Holy Spirit in African American Gospel. Contemporary Ethnography Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Affiliated and Emeritus Faculty