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Leonard Norman Primiano
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LEONARD NORMAN PRIMIANO, Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Cabrini College, Radnor, Pennsylvania

Peace, Folklorists! I recall reading a biographical sketch for an AFS post by my teacher Henry Glassie a few years back in which Henry wrote –"All folklore calls me…” While I cannot say that I have answered every call to me by folklore in the past, I have worked in this field for over 25 years with a sense of passion and joy. I earned an AB in Religious Studies (University of Pennsylvania), Master of Theological Studies (Harvard Divinity School), and dual PhD in religious studies and folklore and folklife under Don Yoder at Penn. After a year in Newfoundland having the time of my life teaching folklore at Memorial University, I found a tenure-track job at Cabrini College. I am currently Chair of Religious Studies and Co-Director of the Honors Program. I have always striven to be rigorous and respectful while keeping a sense of humor about who we are, how we do our work, and how fortunate I am as a folklorist to represent the faith and work of others. I have published my research and book reviews in JAF, Western Folklore, New York Folklore, Ethnologies, and Folklore, as well as the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. I established the Cabrini Folk, Popular, and Devotional Religious Art Collection in 2000, incorporating materials from Don Yoder’s collection in 2006. I have co-chaired with Maggie Kruesi the AFS Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section for 10 years. I am particularly excited about my current involvement with the AFS-Teagle Foundation project "Big Questions and the Disciplines.”

My love affair with our field has been centered on religious folklife, the artistry of the everyday, and ephemeral religious expression. I have worked with a sense of joy to combine folklore with religious studies to study the religiosity of marginalized groups and individuals, from gay Catholics to the believers of Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement to Vodou practitioners. As a board member, I would be sympathetic to the plight of students, poorly paid and over-worked folklorists, and independent folklorists struggling to make a living. While I am an academic folklorist, my friendship and collaborations with so many public sector and grassroots folklorists and artists has certainly taught me about the realities of the professional lives, as well as the concerns, of those in public sector work. One direction that I would emphasize is greater attention by the Society to the new opportunities of using digital technologies in conducting, preserving, presenting, and publishing insightful and critical ethnographic research on the complexities of human experience. This summer, I participated as a Fellow at an NEH-Sponsored Workshop in the Digital Humanities at the Center for Multimedia Literacy at USC. The Society benefits greatly by engaging more fully in the conversation around digital humanities, especially with the role that folklore and folklorists play in expanded notions of literacy, multimodal communication, and nonlinear digital platforms. Monies are out there from a variety of sources for greater AFS participation in the digital humanities for the benefit of all the membership. Thanks for your consideration. Peace!

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