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AFS Review: Notes

A Guide to the 2013 Meeting for Students and First-Timers

Tuesday, October 8, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman

by Lisa Gabbert (Utah State University)

Welcome to the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society! Hopefully this piece will serve as a useful guide, as you begin to learn your own way of navigating the meeting.

Must sees and dos

  • publishers’ book exhibit: Otherwise known as "the book room,” this is where the very latest folklore books are for sale at a discount, as well as hard-to-find back issues of journals and occasional copies of out of print books. Sometimes it’s even possible to pre-order not-yet-released books. The book room also is filled with publishers that you can talk to about your own project and is a great place to socialize more generally.

  • plenary sessions and section-sponsored lectures: Of course, any first-time attendee wouldn’t want to miss the annual presidential address, but attend the other plenary and lecture sessions as well. These sessions feature major scholars and are on topics of immediate relevance to the field; consider them the "really should be theres” of all the conference sessions.

  • section meetings: section meetings are often overlooked by newcomers. Sections are interest-based organizations within the society. As a newcomer, you may not belong to a section yet but consider attending a section business meeting anyway. The section will be happy to have you and sections are an easy way to meet people with similar interests.

Suggestions for Panels

There are tons of great panels and great ideas, so really the best strategy is to attend what interests you. Below is one suggested panel for each day, which were chosen from the pre-organized sessions:

  • Wed., Oct. 16, panel 01-14 and 02-14, "Discourses of Belief and Genre": a panel series by colleagues from Finland and Estonia. It’s always a good idea to attend an international panel in order avoid becoming too narrow in focus and outlook.

  • Thurs. Oct. 17, panel 03-00, Poster exhibition: Posters are an important component of presenting information at AFS. They are attractive to look at and it’s a great opportunity to talk to the researcher personally.

  • Fri. Oct. 18, panel 06-03, "Connecting Public Folklore to Critical Heritage Studies: Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities for Dialogue": It's important to attend both academic sessions and sessions that engage with work done in the public sector. As heritage is something most folklorists touch on, this would be a good choice.

  • Sat. Oct. 19, panel 11-12, "Advances in Folklore Scholarship: Diaspora and Belonging": Listen to young scholars discuss their latest and award-winning books. Excerpts available on-line at (scroll down to "Conferences and Discussions" for "Panel: Advances in Folklore Scholarship: Diaspora and Belonging.")

For the devoted ones

Attend the candidates’ forum and AFS business meeting on Saturday. The candidates are the future leaders of the Society; it’s good to know what they are thinking and to learn about important issues related to AFS and the discipline of folklore.

If you can swing it (next time)….

Go on a conference tour. Conference tours require preregistration and advance planning, but they are fun, educational, and, as they are arranged by the local committee, are a great way to experience some local culture by people who know it well.

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