November 20, 2018

Folklorists connect performers, audience

When folk artists take to the stage, they often perform or demonstrate for an audience not well versed in the particular culture and traditions. Folklorists serve as interpreters, making communication between the artist and audience easier. At the 66th National Folk Festival, the following folklorists will be on hand at the Narrative and Foodways stages to ask questions and gently prod the folk artists to talk about their work and help the audience understand the rich folk culture of Maine.

Kathleen Mundell

Rockport, Maine

Kathleen Mundell directs Cultural Resources Inc., a nonprofit company specializing in the documentation and marketing of traditional arts. Educated as a folklorist, Mundell has more than 20 years of experience in the field. She has collaborated with the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance on projects including an apprenticeship program, marketing directory and the Wabanaki Cultural Trail, a guide to Wabanaki culture in Maine. She has curated exhibits on traditional culture including “The Next Generation,” a photographic essay on intergenerational basket making.

Kathryn Olmstead

Orono, Maine

Kathryn Olmstead is an associate dean and associate professor of journalism in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine. A native of Michigan, she is a former reporter and newspaper editor who edits and publishes the quarterly magazine Echoes: Rediscovering Community, which is based in Caribou, Maine. An alumna of the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin, she also has taught English, written about agriculture and served as regional representative for former U.S. Sen. William Cohen. She divides her time between Aroostook County and Orono and enjoys skiing, snowshoeing, sailing, kayaking, hiking and contradancing.

Joan N. Radner

Lovell, Maine

Joan N. Radner received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1971. She taught literature, folklore, Celtic studies, women’s studies and American studies at American University in Washington, D.C., and publishes in these fields. She is past president of the American Folklore Society, the Celtic Studies Association of North America and the Washington Storytellers Theatre. She co-founded the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association and serves on the National Storytelling Network’s board of directors. Her published articles include “Feminist Messages: Coding in Women’s Folk Culture” (University of Illinois Press, 1993). Strongly attached to her family’s western Maine home region, she recently left academia to act as an independent folklorist, storyteller, writer and researcher. She is finishing a book on the creation and performance of handwritten literary “newspapers” in 19th century New England. She also conducts fieldwork in Maine and continues to develop and perform stories about New England life and history.

Millie Rahn

Watertown, Mass.

Millie Rahn is a Massachusetts-based folklorist who develops projects about living cultural traditions for cultural and educational organizations, government and economic development agencies, and the tourism and heritage industries. Her work includes curating traditional crafts for Massachusetts’ annual Lowell Folk Festival and the Foodways stage at the National Folk Festival in Bangor. In 1998, she produced “Come See What’s Cooking in Hancock County,” a food and culture program, and oversaw the first Downeast Folklife Festival. She just completed fieldwork for the Missouri Cuisines Project and public programs for the Lowell National Historical Park’s Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center. She produced New England segments for CBS’ “An American Moment” and the exhibition and accompanying video, “Food Glorious Food: Food Traditions of Lowell.” In 1995 she received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship to study sustainable folk arts programming throughout the United States.

Margaret “Peggy” Yocom

Rangeley, Maine

Margaret Yocom is an associate professor in the department of English at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. A folklorist, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She conducts fieldwork in the Rangeley, Maine, region, where she also serves as a folklorist at the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum. She has published articles on topics ranging from family folklore to material culture. Her most recent work includes “Exuberance in Control: The Dialogue of Ideas in the Tales and Fan Towers of Woodsman William Richard of Phillips, Maine” and “Awful Real: Dolls and Development in Rangeley, Maine.” She is the assistant editor of “Ugiuvangmiut Quliapyuit: King Island Tales,” and she edited, produced and wrote most of “Logging in the Maine Woods: The Paintings of Alden Grant.” She is writing a book about the traditional arts of the Richard family of Rangeley called “Generations in Wood.”

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