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AFS Review: Notes

October 2017 Letter to Members from AFS President Kay Turner

Monday, October 9, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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Dear Society,

When I became your President two years ago, I promised an occasional letter to you inviting your input on various AFS initiatives I planned to introduce. Does time fly? Now, with only a few months left before I hand over the gavel to President-Elect Dorry Noyes, I would like to tell you a few new things, and to invite your participation.

Our annual meeting in Minneapolis is little more than a week away. This is a very special meeting because, as you already know, our guiding hand, our wonderful Executive Director, Tim Lloyd is retiring next year. Tim has served our Society for 17 years; he brought us into the new century. Under his leadership the Society has realized great change for the good, including many new services to the field, the creation of the Endowment and Sustainers’ Funds, a series of partnerships with folklore archives and libraries, and the initiation of what has become a longstanding and important international exchange project with Chinese folklorists and the China Folklore Society.

These are some of the big projects Tim has shepherded, and we are grateful for them. But because I have worked closely with him over the past three years, I want also to say that Tim deserves our thanks for the countless small, everyday things he does to keep our Society stable and moving forward. Because of Tim, we are a much better organization for promoting the value of folklore studies in the 21st century. I hope you will take a moment in Minneapolis to toast Tim before he resumes his working-folklorist career and his other career as a rock and roll drummer.

The next year of course will see the installation of our new AFS Executive Director. I want you to know that Dorry, Tim, and I have been working since the beginning of this year with the Executive Board, and a very competent and committed Succession Committee, to insure a smooth transition.

At the core of AFS Presidential responsibility is the fulfillment of our members’ needs and desires, one of which—expressed by many of you in the 2016 AFS Member Survey—is bringing folklore and the work of folklorists to the world. I hope you will participate in a new project I have initiated to help do just that. Called Why I’m a Folklorist, this video interview project asks the big WHY question and gives colleagues two minutes to provide the ANSWER! The project started with a spontaneous survey I made with my iPhone at a Board meeting in Bloomington in April 2016. Now with the help of videographers Thomas DeCarlo and Jackson Hall, it has grown to almost 50 interviews, samples of which can be found in the AFS Review at:

Why I'm a Folklorist interviews will continue at our annual meeting in Minneapolis with two sessions currently scheduled for Thursday. Jackson Hall and I promise to make the experience a pleasant and provocative one. Information on how to participate will be available at Registration and you’ll find a sign-up sheet at the Information table. In the beginning of 2018 I will become Past President and Why I'm a Folklorist will go DIY: anyone in our field will be invited to submit a two-minute video to the project. All videos will be available in AFS's collection in the Indiana University ScholarWorks repository, and on AFS's You Tube channel. See the AFS Review on the AFS website in January 2018 for guidelines and details.

As I did a year ago, I invite all our members to use our annual meeting to exchange ideas, to learn and teach, and to raise issues of importance with each other and with the Board. A number of issues raised at the annual business meeting in Miami last year were addressed by the Board this past year, and Tim will report on them at the Minneapolis annual business meeting on Saturday. We are your Board and we want to hear from you, not just at the business meeting but throughout the year.

Finally, I want to thank Indiana University graduate students Jesse Fivecoate, Kristina Downs (now Dr. Downs), and Ellie Hasken, and AFS Membership Director Dr. Meredith McGriff, for the very inspiring “Future of American Folkloristics” (FOAF) Conference held in Bloomington this past May. An intense desire to see our folklore discipline expand its reach was felt in all the presentations and in the tremendous camaraderie expressed at great parties held in conjunction.

I leave you with a quote from Diane Goldstein, which served as the motto for FOAF and would do well to serve as our general motto: “Call yourself a folklorist and do good work.”

See you very soon in Minneapolis!


Kay Turner, President
American Folklore Society

PS—Speaking of parties reminds me to invite you to my Presidential Conference on the Couch to be held in my Presidential Suite Room 2514 on Friday night from 9:30–11:00pm. Our topic for this year’s conference will be "Purple Rain: The Folklore of Prince," which will include discussion as well as dancing to Prince videos curated by Betsy Peterson.

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