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Workshop by Margaret Yocom

StoryLines: Ethnography, Storytelling, and Creative Writing

November 19, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Kelly Writer's House

I will tell you something about stories . . .
  They aren't just entertainment,
       Don't be fooled,
   They are all we have, you see,
      all we have to fight off
          illness and death.

You don't have anything
if you dont have the stories.
           Leslie Marmon Silko. 1977. Ceremony, p. 2.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Ethnographies, as folklorists remind us, wind together several stories: stories told by the people we study, stories of our interaction with people in our field sites, and stories of our own lives. How can we discover these stories? How can we discern which ones to include in our ethnographies? How can we make good use of these stories in our ethnographies? How can we understand the possibilities these stories have to offer us as writers? How might we benefit from poetry, storytelling, and creative non-fiction as we write our ethnographies? In this workshop, folklorist and storyteller Margaret Yocom will briefly discuss and read from her own work in the western mountains of Maine. Then, she will offer two interactive exercises designed to elicit and explore participantsown ethnographic tales.


Margaret R. Yocom (Ph.D., English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst: 1980), a folklorist who specializes in family folklore, oral narrative, material culture, and gender studies, is an associate professor of English at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. The director of the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive, she established the English Department's Folklore Concentration; the Folklore Minor; and the Folklore Concentration in Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has conducted fieldwork in her home Pennsylvania German culture as well as with the Inuit of northwestern Alaska and several Northern Virginia communities. Her major fieldsite is a North Appalachian mountain community in Maine. She has published articles and photographs on ethnographic fieldwork, regional study, ethnopoetics, family folklore, gender, and material culture. Her most recent work includes Awful Real: Dolls and Development in Rangeley, Maine (1993), The Yellow Ribboning of the USA: Contested Meanings in the Construction of a Political Symbol (1996), and Exuberance in Control: The Dialogue of Ideas in the Tales and Fan Towers of Woodsman William Richard of Phillips, Maine in Northeast Folklore: Essays in Honor of Edward D. Ives (2000). She is the assistant editor of Ugiuvangmiut Quliapyuit: King Island Tales (1988); and in 1994, she edited and wrote Logging in the Maine Woods: The Paintings of Alden Grant. Her current project is a book on the traditional arts of the Richard family of Rangeley, Maine. Active in public sector folklore, she serves as folkorist at the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum as well as consultant to various projects at the Smithsonian Institution, the NEA, and the Maine Arts Commission. She also serves on the boards of the American Folklore Society, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and the Maine Folklife Center.

Registration Information

To register, send an e-mail to Veronica Aplenc vaplenc@sas.upenn.edu with your name, departmental affiliation, status in graduate program (e.g. in coursework; ABD and before research; in fieldwork; writing up), project title, and brief project description (short paragraph). If you wish to sign up for more than one workshop, please rank the workshops in order of your preference, so that we may accommodate as many registrants as possible with their first choices.

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