|David Todd Lawrence|
Associate Professor, Department of English; Core Faculty and Advisory Board Member, Program in American Culture and Difference; University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota (2003-present)
Education: PhD African American Literature, Folklore Studies, University of Missouri (2003); MA English, Creighton University (1997); BA English, Rockhurst University (1995). Courses on African American Folklore, the Badman in African American Folklore and Literature, African American Folklore and Literature, The Black Image in Film, Hip Hop and the Black Expressive Tradition, and Introduction to Folklore. Articles and reviews in Southern Folklore, MELUS, The Griot, and Journal of American Folklore on subjects and figures such as Ethnographic film, the pimp figure in African American expressive culture, Zora Neale Hurston, Sonia Sanchez, Iceberg Slim, and Etheridge Knight. Served as Film and Video Review Editor for JAF (2007-2010), Chair of the MLA Folklore and Literature Discussion Group Executive Committee (2008), and worked as an assistant and associate editor of JAF under Elaine Lawless (2001-2003). My research spans the areas of African American Literature, Folklore Studies, and Cultural Studies. Current projects include a Folklore, Literature, and Composition textbook (with Dave Allred and Jacqueline McGrath) for USU Press, and a study of contested narrative, grief, and vernacular performance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
I am honored to be listed among these candidates for the office of AFS Executive Board Member. Like my fellow nominees, I am firmly committed to doing everything necessary to insure that AFS continues to be a strong and important mechanism for connecting and supporting folklorists, and an organization that engages in activism and advocacy when issues of ethics and justice are at stake. This becomes increasingly important in an environment where crushing economic conditions have allowed ideological penchants to be played out through dangerous and misguided fiscal verdicts consistently cast as legitimate. Now more than ever, AFS must be willing and committed to support individuals and organizations fighting the specter of "cutbacks” and "belt-tightening.” It is evident that we are living in a moment when the future of government and of the university are being contested in a forum where our voices are largely absent, or perhaps just unheeded. We need to change the way we participate in this discussion and make a concerted effort to better articulate the vision, mission, and impact of the work folklorists do in the academic and public spheres among ourselves and to those out in the world. I believe strongly that activism, advocacy, and political engagement are essential for our organization in this critical moment. As a member of the board, I would work to make sure that AFS increases its outreach to a more diverse and broader community of scholars, activists, and lay practioners. At a time when the work we do is being undervalued, we must recognize its potential to forge connections and coalitions in ways previously unconsidered. It will be in reaching out, forming new partnerships, crafting a clear vision for our organization that we will position ourselves for sustained relevance in this new century.