Folklore Student Association Members
Ohio State University's folklore graduate students are dedicated to furthering folklore research in their respective fields.
CFS folklore graduate students contribute significantly to the intellectual life of the Center and play leading roles in many of its social and academic activities, such as curriculum development, mentoring, organization of discussion groups and Colloquium presentations, public lectures, and conferences. They are engaged in a variety of scholarly research endeavors, including public programming, documentary, and academic media productions.
Puja Batra-Wells is a PhD student in Comparative Studies interested in popular culture and folklore, material and visual cultures, and museums and tourism. She holds an M.A. in Popular Culture from Bowling Green State University and is both the current CFS Graduate Archivist and Graduate President of FSA.
Cristina Benedetti is an M.A. student in Arts Policy and Administration, working on completing a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Folklore. She received dual B.A. degrees in English and Italian in 2003 and an M.A. in Italian in 2007, all from The Ohio State University. Her research interests include large-scale, volunteer-run arts and community festivals and nonprofit organizations that focus on supporting and promoting folklife. She is the 2011-2012 Graduate Co-Chair of the Folklore Student Association.
Erin Cahill is an MA/PhD student in OSU's English department interested in multimodal composition, semiotics, narrative theory, and folklore. She has a BA from Creighton University in British Literature with minors in Music and German.
Sara Cleto is a PhD student in OSU's English department concentrating in folklore. She is especially intrigued by the intersections between literature and folklore, such as fairy tale, myth inspired, and balladic retellings. Other areas of interest include gender studies, 19th century literature, and fantastic literature. She also is a creative writer who utilizes folkloric and fairy tale themes, and her work can be found in venues such as Cabinet des Fees, Eternal Haunted Summer, Mirror Dance, and others. Sara has a BA in English from The University of Pennsylvania with a minor in Gender, Culture, and Society and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Folklore from George Mason University.
Sarah Dunlap is a PhD candidate in OSU’s English department studying intersecting discourses of nature, gender and sexuality in modernist literature from an ecocritical perspective. She is particularly interested in identity and belonging as they relate to place. Before coming to Columbus, she got her undergraduate degree in Human Development at Cornell University and her MA in English at SUNY Fredonia.
John Harris is an undergraduate majoring in Folklore in Comparative Studies. He is interested in the region of South West England and the folk belief and material culture of Cornwall from the 19th century. He has taken classes in Irish Folklore, Persian culture, Jewish mysticism, film studies, and mythology.
Wes Merkes is an undergraduate Folklore major. His most prominent interests include countercultural groups and festivals, identity, marginality, and capitalism, foodways, points of cultural contact, and material expression. Wes is specifically interested in looking at Rainbow Gatherings--temporary intentional communities that advocate peace, love, and cooperation.
Rachel Paiscik is a undergraduate student pursuing a bachelors degree in Arabic and Folklore. She returned this summer from a study-abroad in Tunisia with Amideast's Learn and Serve program where she studied Tunisian Arabic and served as an English language fellow at an English learning village for university students. Since studying folklore, she has benefited from blending her artistic creativity with the critical perspective she has gained from her studies. You can see Rachel's artwork on her Facebook page. She also works at the Center for Folklore Studies as a student assistant and serves as Secretary for the Folklore Student Association.
Katherine Parker Horigan is a Ph.D. Candidate in the English Department with a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Folklore Studies. She received both her BA and MA in English from Tulane University in 2005 and 2006, respectively. She is interested in the possibilities and the limits of representing trauma through narration, and her dissertation examines narratives from post-Katrina New Orleans.
Joanna Spanos is a Ph.D.candidate in the Department of Comparative Studies. She received her B.S. with majors in Biology and History from Denison University, where she completed an interdisciplinary honors thesis examining historical uses of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. She received her M.A. in History from Pennsylvania State University, during which time she held a Weiss Interdisciplinary Fellowship. Her dissertation research explores the history and folklore of a nineteenth-century Pennsylvania German infanticide ballad. Previously, Joanna taught European and world history in a variety of settings, including an inner-city charter school and Columbus State. When she is not doing research or playing with her children, Joanna is an academic advisor in the Arts and Sciences Honors Program.
Brittany Warman is a PhD student in English with a concentration in Folklore and the current Graduate Administrative Associate for The Center for Folklore Studies. Her main research focus is the intersection between folklore and literature, especially fairy tale, folktale, and myth retellings. She is also interested in fairy tales generally, speculative literature (particularly the Gothic and Fantastic), supernatural folklore (especially conceptions of magic and fairylore/witch lore), feminist theory, experimental literature, and digital media. Brittany was the 2010 winner of the Elli Köngäs-Maranda Student Paper Prize from the Women's Section of the American Folklore Society and the 2012 winner of the MAIS Department at George Mason University's Academic Excellence Award and Most Outstanding Thesis Award. She is also a creative writer who is frequently inspired by her work with folklore. She is the most recent former Senior Convener of the Folklore and Creative Writing section of the American Folklore Society and her creative work has been published by Jabberwocky Magazine, Cabinet des Fees: Scheherezade's Bequest, Magpie Magazine, and others. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Folklore from George Mason University. You can visit her personal website here.
Ziying You is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the Ohio State University. Her research interests include the intellectual history of Chinese folklore studies, the storytelling performance in Contemporary China, living Guqin music tradition, legends, folk beliefs, foodways, folkloric documentary and video production. She co-translated Sharon R. Sherman’s book Documenting Ourselves: Film, Video, and Culture from English into Chinese, the Chinese book was published in June 2011 by Central China Normal University Press. Her two videos Why Are We Cooking? Chinese Foodways in America (2008) and Chef Jevon’s Dinner (2009), completed in Folklore Program at the University of Oregon, have been publicly presented on many occasions in both China and the US. Her essay "Creation and Performance of 'New Stories' in Contemporary China:1963-1966 " won the 2010 Dan Crowley Memorial Student Essay Prize awarded by the American Folklore Society storytelling Section. As a co-chair of the Eastern Asia Section of American Folklore Society, she coordinated the panel “Discourses and Practices of Folk Literature and Arts in Revolutionary China: 1949-1966” at the AFS 2010 annual meeting. She also served in Jonathan T. Y. Yeh Award Committee for Student Scholarship in Asian and Asian American Folklore in 2010 and 2011. Her dissertation proposes to study the religious festival worshipping Chinese ancient Kings Yao and Shun as well as Yao’s two daughters, also Shun’s wives, E’huang and Nüying, in rural China.
Nancy Yan is a doctoral candidate in folklore through the English Department at the Ohio State University. She graduated from the George Washington University in Washington DC in 1994 with a degree in international affairs. After working in DC, she relocated to San Francisco and became involved with grassroots organizing, immigrant rights issues, youth leadership, and electoral politics. She served as a field organizer for the California Democratic Party in 1998 and a District Organizer for the San Francisco Labor Council's electoral efforts in 1999 and 2000. Her dissertation research examines Chinese restaurants in the American context as sites of contested authenticity and American identity.
Yi Fan Pai
Find out more information about our folklore alumni.