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AFS Review: Notes

2019 AFS Meeting Offers Opportunities for Students

Monday, September 9, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society offers events specifically designed for students, as well as a range of opportunities that are open to all, but that would serve students very well.

These options were designed specifically with students in mind:

1. Graduate Students and Young Professionals Mixer and Trivia Night: This mixer, sponsored by the AFS Graduate Student and Young Professional Section, provides time set aside specifically for mingling with other students, both undergraduate and graduate, and young professionals. This year, you can also put your knowledge of folklore trivia to the test. Cash bar. Thursday, 8:30–10:00 pm, Atrium, 2nd floor 

2. Graduate Student and Young Professional Section Business Meeting: This section brings together students and young professionals to exchange ideas, to create a community of young and early-career folklorists, and to act as a unified voice for future professionals within AFS. For more information about the section, including how to contact the current section convener, please join the online section free of charge and visit the private section page, or their Facebook group: The group meets on Friday, 12:45–1:45 pm, Baltimore, 2nd floor.

3. AFS Fellows Reception for Graduate Students: The AFS Fellows host this reception as a way to welcome students to the meeting, create opportunities for networking with senior members of the field, and to make clear how important students are to the health and vitality of folklore studies. The Fellows provide food and a cash bar. Friday, 5:30–7:00 pm, Pisces, 15th floor

4. University-Sponsored Receptions: Several academic programs universities are hosting receptions for their past, current and prospective students, giving you a chance to talk with faculty and other students. All four receptions are on Friday, at 9:00–11:00 pm:

  • Indiana University Reception, Atrium, 2nd floor
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland Reception, Atrium, 2nd floor
  • Folklore and American Studies Programs Reception, Ballroom Foyer, 2nd floor
  • The Ohio State University Reception, Harborview, 2nd floor

5. AFS Fellows Breakfast of (Folklore) Champions: Senior folklorists have breakfast with preregistered students, talking about a designated topic, as well as students’ questions and interests. The Fellows participating in this year’s breakfast, and their topics, are: 

  • Robert Baron (Goucher College), Public Folklore Practice and Community Engagement
  • Galit Hasan-Rokem (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, emerita), Folklore Research as Social and Academic Activism
  • Tim Lloyd (American Folklore Society), Building a Productive Career and a Successful Field
  • Tom Rankin (Duke University), Employing the Documentary Arts across Disciplines and Communities

This Fellows–sponsored program, now in its tenth year, is a response to numerous requests for the Society to create ways for senior members of the field to engage and mentor students directly. Based in part on your evaluations of this event, the Fellows look forward to strengthening it, and creating other such opportunities, in future years. 

The breakfast is Saturday, 8:00–9:30am, in Pisces, 15th floor. There is no fee, but since seating is limited, advance registration is required; the eight seats per table will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, contact us at, indicating your top two preferences as well as which school you currently attend. Please be aware when you make your request that we will not seat students with Fellows from their own institutions. 

6. Volunteer shifts: Every year, AFS staff members require some student assistance; in return for working a four-hour shift, students will have their meeting registration fee refunded or waived. Sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis until all slots are filled. If you are interested, please email, indicating up to three shifts that you could cover, in order of preference.

Registration: Working the registration desk involves distributing nametags and programs to those who have preregistered, assisting with registration and payments for those who register onsite, making a head count of attendees in session rooms, and various other duties as requested. 

  • Wednesday, 1–5 pm (1 needed)
  • Thursday, 7:15 am–11:15 am (2 needed)
  • Thursday, 11:15 am–3:30 pm (2 needed)
  • Friday, 7:15 am–11:15 am (1 needed) 
  • Friday, 11:15 am-3:30 pm (1 needed)
  • Saturday, 7:15–11:15 am (1 needed)

Keeping watch: Two evening shifts involve sitting outside the closed door of the book exhibit room to make sure that no one goes in; in the unlikely event that there is a disturbance, the volunteer is not to get involved, but just to call security. Volunteers for this shift may sit outside and listen to the evening performances/lectures in the Constellation ballrooms as long as they keep watch on the exhibit door.

  • Thursday, 6:00-10:00 pm (1 needed)
  • Friday, 6:00-10:00 pm (1 needed)

7. Shadowing program: This ongoing project sponsored by the AFS Executive Board arranges mentoring opportunities for students at the annual meeting. While the deadline to participate in the program this year has already passed, please do keep this opportunity in mind for next year. See for more information. In general, even if you’re not formally participating in the shadowing program, we urge you to be fearless in striking up conversations with established professionals at this year's meeting! 

If you’re new to AFS and the Annual Meeting, whether it’s your first meeting or not, pay particular attention to these events:

1. Take a look at “How to Make the AFS Meeting Work Best for You" by former AFS Board member Carole Carpenter of York University at for tips about how to prepare and navigate the meeting.

2. When you check in at the meeting registration desk, ask for a “First Time Attendee” ribbon to attach to your name tag. Wear it proudly, knowing that other attendees will be glad to see you. Use it as a license to strike up conversations.

3. Join us for Get to Know AFS and the Annual Meeting, Wednesday, 4:00–5:00 pm in the Harborview lobby on the 2nd floor. This gathering will provide a brief orientation to AFS and the annual meeting with members of staff, the Mentoring Committee, the Cultural Diversity Committee, and past Executive Board members. Find out more about what to expect from the meeting, network with other newcomers and AFS members, and hear about AFS projects and what AFS can do for you. 

4. Connect with your fellow folklorists immediately after the opening ceremonies Wednesday evening at the Welcome Reception and Recognition of 25 Years of Cultural Diversity Efforts in the Atrium, 6:30–8:30 pm. More experienced attendees will make a particular effort to reach out to first-time attendees at the kick-off to the meeting. Please plan ahead: the reception will have a cash bar, but no food. 

5. Check in at the Executive Board’s Coffee with First-Time Attendees, Friday, 7:15–8:30 am in Pisces on the15th floor. Wake up with a cup of coffee, a spectacular view, and current members of the Executive Board, who will want to hear how the meeting is shaping up for you. This a great opportunity to connect with other newcomers, whether it’s your first conference day or your third.

We also want to invite you to these additional events, which are open to all, and a great way to meet other folklorists and to get more involved in the field and the Society:

1. AFS Section Business meetings: There are more than thirty AFS Sections, serving as gathering places and forums within the Society for people with common interests in the field. All sections welcome new members, and invite prospective members to attend their annual business meeting to learn more about their interests and activities. See the AFS Annual Meeting program for specific meeting times and locations. 

2. The Festival of Ideas will gather conference attendees from near and far to get to know one another and share meaningful conversations about issues that arise from our community-driven work. As folklorists know, face-to-face informal exchange is where some of the deepest learning and relationship building happens. Drawing from the interests of participants, we will divide up into smaller conversations, and explore the important issues, dilemmas, strategies, and experiences we encounter in our practice. Thursday, 6:00–7:30 pm, in Harborview, 2nd floor.

3. The Festival of Ideas Reception will kick off and run alongside the Festival of Ideas. While the Festival of Ideas provides a means of sharing meaningful conversations about specific issues that arise from our community-driven work, the reception presents the opportunity to enjoy our own community of past, present and future laborers in the field of folklore. This is a great opportunity to connect over common ground with public and community folklorists from Maryland and around the country. This party is brought to you by the AFS Local Planning Committee, the MA in Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the AFS Public Programs Section, and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage if you've ever worked with (or hoped to work with) these programs, be sure to come say hello.

The reception will include a cash bar and light refreshments, but plan to grab a more substantial bite before or after the event.  Thursday, 6:00–7:30 pm, Atrium, 2nd floor

4. Cultural Diversity Committee Brown Bag Welcome Lunch: The over-arching goal of the AFS Cultural Diversity Committee is to find ways to diversify attendance at the AFS annual meeting and to diversify the membership of the Society. This brown-bag lunch provides an opportunity to meet members of the Cultural Diversity Committee, to learn about the issues they are currently addressing, and to add your voice to the conversation about what we can all do to reimagine a more inclusive, activist folklore theory, practice, and Society for the 21st century. Please bring your own lunch. Friday, 12:45-1:45 pm, Columbia, 2nd floor

5. 05-01 Mentorship: Breakout Sessions for Mentoring Conversations: Individuals need mentors at many stages in their professional lives. In addition to AFS's Mentoring Program stewarded by the AFS Mentoring Committee, which pairs mentors and mentees for conversations that develop over the course of the Annual Meeting and beyond, this session is an informal opportunity to come together around various conversation points with facilitators prepared for breakout conversations including:

  • New Professional
  • Mid-Career
  • Contract-Based Employment
  • Engaged Retirement
  • Folklorists of Color
  • Mentoring through #MeToo
  • MENtoring (Mentoring Men)
  • and others that emerge during the breakout session

Participants may stay in a single conversation or dip into several breakout groups as they prefer. Ideas raised here may help guide future mentoring efforts. Bring your mid-morning snack/beverage of choice and join us for this casual yet meaningful conversation. Friday, 10:15 am–12:15 pm, Harborview, 2nd floor


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