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AFS Review: Notes

Surprise Connections

Friday, October 14, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katrina Wynn
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Greetings fellow folklorists! As a co-convener for the graduate students I was invited to blog about AFS, so here goes my first effort at blogging. Just a little about me: I am a second year graduate student at Western Kentucky University on the public track. I’m from Vermont and am particularly drawn to public folklore, foodways, cultural tourism, and family folklore. In the two years I have attended AFS as a graduate student, I've found the experience to be exhilarating, exhausting, and full of interesting people, papers, and opportunities. Though there are many sessions, panels, and addresses worthy of note, one of my favorite parts of AFS is the surprise encounters. Just a few minutes ago, I had the pleasure of talking with Joe "The Songfinder” Hickerson when he wandered into the graduate student lounge and had a cup of coffee with us. In case you don’t know who Hickerson is (as I did not), he is a retiree from the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song (as it was called when he started there). After finding out that I went to WKU, Joe started off by telling us a funny story about Erika Brady from when she was a student. He then answered our queries about the archive. Hearing about the history of the archive from someone who experienced it made the history much more tangible for me than simply reading about it from a book. Hickerson also regaled us with stories about his life and career, his time at Oberlin College, and D.C. during the March on Washington and the riots. I am not particularly interested in folk music so I wouldn’t have thought to seek out Hickerson, but the conversation was one of the highlights of the conference for me. The lesson I learned? Listen to the speeches and the papers, but don’t forget to talk to the person sitting next to you; you never know what you might end up learning.

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