John Berquist is a folklorist and storyteller, originally from Minnesota. Of Norwegian and Swedish decent, John presents concerts and programs that bring to life the heritage and lore of the Midwest: from lumberjack ballads to miners’ laments and folk melodies of Scandinavian, Finnish and Slavic immigrants, to songs about people and places. As an instructor with Chicago’s After School Matters Program, he has been researching urban folklore among Chicago teens.
Itzik Gottesman is currently the associate editor of the Yiddish Forward newspaper, and the Editor of the Yiddish literary journal, Tsukunft, now in its 112th year. He has taught Yiddish language and culture at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania. He has a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elfriede Haese is a traditional storyteller from Milwaukee, WI. She is known for her engaging stories about the Milwaukee German-American way of life in the 1930s and 1940s and her performances of German dialect versions of jokes and songs. At this conference she will not only share tales from Milwaukee’s tavern culture, but will also talk about her efforts to pass on the city’s rich ethnic traditions to a new generation of children today.
Larry Johnson, a teacher and storyteller in the Twin Cities area, tells personal stories about his experiences as a Swedish-American. Larry learned many stories from his father and his grandfather, some of which—as Larry discovered much later in his life—were traditional stories told in Sweden at the time of his grandfather’s emigration.
Holger Kersten is a professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Magdeburg, Germany. He has done extensive research on German-American dialect texts and their relevance in American literature and culture. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Heidelberg with a thesis on “Mark Twain and the Germans.”
Cora Lee Kluge is a professor of German at the University of Wisconsin– Madison and Co-Director of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies. Her research interests include the eighteenth century, German-American studies—particularly the period from 1848 to World War I—and the history of German studies in America. Current projects include an anthology of German-American literature and research on the figure of Mary Stuart in German literature and music.
James P. Leary is a professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies, Director of the Folklore Program, and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has focused his research on the folklore of the Upper Midwest’s diverse peoples, with particular emphases on musical and narrative performances, on pluralism and creolization, and on public folklore.
Jeffrey Lewis is an assistant professor at the UW–Madison in Human Development and Family Studies, as well as a traditional storyteller. He is particularly interested in how local social and cultural histories give shape to the variability of human development and social possibilities, and he collects stories as a form of ethnographic research. At this conference he will share his experiences as an African-American internal immigrant (migration in the U.S. of blacks from the South to the North), in which he shared “hyperspaces” with Mexican immigrants.
Mark L. Louden is a professor of German and Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Co-Director of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies. His research has been focused on Germanic linguistics, with Pennsylvania German and Yiddish among the languages he has worked most closely on.
Richard March is Folk and Community Arts Specialist at the Wisconsin Arts Board, where he has developed folk arts apprenticeships, produced over 300 public radio programs, and directed the Sesquicentennial Wisconsin Folklife Festival. Born on Chicago’s ethnic south side, he grew up in his mother’s tightly knit family of Croatian immigrants from Nerezine. He has collected and researched narrative songs in the Nerezine dialect, many of which deal with the emigration experience. He holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University.
Earl Otchingwanigan (Nyholm), a now-retired professor of the Ojibwe language at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, is well known as a traditional storyteller, especially adept at bilingual performances. Born at Crystal Falls, Michigan, of Ojibwe and Swedish parents, Nyholm is an enrolled member of the Keeweenaw Bay Reservation at Baraga/L’Anse, Michigan. He grew up speaking Ojibwe and English and learned many traditional tales from relatives. Apart from a fund of sacred narratives restricted to seasonal tellings, he also acquired secular “Indian jokes” and was in demand as a master of ceremonies at powwows in the Western Great Lakes region.
Kathrin Pöge-Alder’s research focuses on traditional storytelling, fairytales, and African storytellers in Europe. She has worked as Associate Director of the Märchen-Stiftung Walter Kahn in Leipzig, was editor of the magazine Märchenspiegel, and has developed children’s contests on tales and fairytales for the Schulmuseum Leipzig. She is currently a lecturer at the Universities of Leipzig and Jena.
August Rubrecht grew up hearing and telling stories in the Ozark tradition. In college, he learned more stories from the collections of Ozark folklorist Vance Randolph and other sources. In 1967–68, he was a fieldworker for the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), collecting words and expressions and (incidentally but inevitably) stories and other lore. Since 1971 he has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Theresa Schenck is an assistant professor of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a faculty member of the American Indian Studies program. She is an enrolled member of the Blackfoot Nation. Because she is also Ojibwe, she has focused much of her research on Ojibwe history in the Upper Midwest. Currently she is working on two book projects dealing with William Warren, the Ojibwe mixed-blood whose influential history of the Ojibwe people was published in 1885: an annotated edition of Warren’s History of the Ojibwe People, and a biography of Warren.
Harold Scheub is a professor of African languages and literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he has been on the faculty since 1970. He has taught and conducted research in eastern and southern Africa, and has authored several books, including The Tongue Is Fire, Secret Fire, and Story. He has spent ten years in Africa. During four year-long trips to that continent, he walked some six thousand miles, collecting oral stories, poetry, and history, which he shares with students in his courses and seminars.
Helmut Schmahl is an associate professor of History at the University of Mainz in Germany. He has done extensive research on German immigration to America. His book Transplanted But Not Uprooted: Nineteenth-Century Immigrants from Hessen-Darmstadt in Wisconsin will soon be published by the Max Kade Institute.
Christoph Schmitt is a faculty member of the Institut für Volkskunde (European Ethnology) at the University of Rostock/Germany and Director of the University’s Wossidlo Archive. He has done extensive research on the regional ethnology and folklore of Mecklenburg as well as on the broader concept of the role of storytelling in a multimedia society. He is currently working on the history of the science of ethnology in Mecklenburg (up to 1939), part of other research projects at the Wossidlo Archive.
Rand Valentine is an associate professor of Linguistics and a member of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is currently working on a dictionary project of the Ojibwe language. He is also involved with various Algonquian language-documentation projects, especially computational aspects of lexicographical research.
Mai Zong Vue is a Hmong storyteller from Madison, WI. She and her family fled Laos during her childhood and after spending five years in a refugee camp in Thailand, resettled in the United States near Kaukauna, WI. Employed by the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (Refugee Services), she often uses stories about cultural contact in her work as an advocate for Hmong women and families, and as a cultural liaison for Hmong refugees.
Mark Wagler, an elementary school teacher from Madison, WI, has extensive experience as both a storyteller and folklorist, with particular emphasis on traditional narrative. Growing up in an Amish-Mennonite household Pennsylvania German as his first language, Wagler learned stories from his parents, other relatives, and his surrounding community. He has also spent years collecting traditional narratives in Wisconsin.
Elaine Wynne grew up on the edge of an Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota (Red Lake). Her mother spoke only German until she started school. Elaine tells family stories learned from her mother and grandmother and stories about the people of her home community, a mix of Scandinavian, German, and Croatian immigrants, and their interface with people from the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Elaine is a therapist, and has worked as a professional storyteller in the Twin Cities area.
Jack Zipes is a professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. He has written numerous books on folklore and fairytales, and among his most recent works on storytelling are Creative Storytelling: Building Community, Changing Lives (1997) and Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children (2004). In addition to his scholarly activities, he is the founder of Neighborhood Bridges, a storytelling project for elementary schools in Minneapolis, which he developed in collaboration with the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis.
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