Daily Archives: May 10, 2013

Kudos from a fieldworker

DSC04586My name is Steve Goddard and I am a second-year graduate student in the Folk Studies Department at WKU.  I came back to school after a long hiatus because I wanted to create a gift for the people I love.  I’m not talking about my wife, kids or grandson (though I do love them) but the Kurds.  This Indo-European group from the Middle East, numbering 30-40 million, have long been marginalized and brutalized by strongmen.  As a result, they have emigrated in large numbers to the West, the largest population in the U.S. (10,000) settling in Nashville.  So, I return to the gift.

Though I had worked among Kurdish refugees for the majority of my adult life, I wanted to offer something new to them.  I wanted to conduct research and write a thesis about  Kurdish life, which could then be added to the comparatively small collection of scholarly work concerning them.  The greatest preponderance of what has been written speaks of their political life; conversely not much has been written of their folk life and that is what I want to offer.  Folk studies is grounded in fieldwork, moving beside and among a group of interest and my two years at WKU have prepared me well for that aspect of folkloric work.  However, as a thesis track student, there has been a professional void.  Gratefully, my work with the Manuscripts and Folklife Archives this semester has helped to fill it.

I have spent the last sixteen weeks processing individual collections of the Kentucky Folklife Program, which came to WKU from Frankfort in the fall of 2012.  I have organized and numbered and accessioned papers, slides, photographs and negatives, audio and video cassettes from fourteen collections, with subject matter as diverse as Burgoo festivals and Indian refugees and locations as disparate as Boyd County in the east and Union County in the west.  I have learned how to create finding aids and post them to Top Scholar, KenCat and Pass the Word.  And in the process, something more has been gained (i.e. filled the void). 

I’ve come to understand that prominent folklorists of our day were once just novice fieldworkers, cutting their teeth as they gathered the treasures of Kentucky’s rich traditional culture.  I’ve learned that the bond between fieldworker and archivist must be strong if the body of work produced by the former is to be preserved and presented by the latter.  A detail as simple as a missing birthdate in fieldnotes can greatly encumber those accessing the archival material in the future.  Lastly, I’ve gained a great respect for those on the other side of fieldwork, the archivists, who take what is gathered in face to face interaction and labor with boxes, folders and pencils to preserve that ethos for generations to come.

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Sookie Stackhouse creator Charlaine Harris to headline 2014 SOKY Book Fest

Bowling Green, Ky. –New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris will headline the 16th annual Southern Kentucky Book Fest scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2014. Born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area, Harris has been writing for thirty years and is best known for her Sookie Stackhouse series.

“We’ve invited Charlaine to Book Fest for several years, but scheduling conflicts have prevented her from coming. Happily, we contacted her early enough to get on her schedule for 2014,” said Kristie Lowry, Literary Outreach Coordinator for WKU Libraries and Book Fest organizer. “The Book Fest partnership strives to invite authors who will have broad appeal, and Charlaine’s fans include young adult and adult readers–men and women–and her appearance will also pull fans of the show True Blood to Book Fest. We are thrilled to have Charlaine Harris coming to Bowling Green next April.”

Harris began writing plays when she attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, switching to novels a few years later and published her first book, Sweet and Deadly, in 1981. After publishing two stand-alone mysteries, Harris launched the lighthearted Aurora Teagarden books with Real Murders, a Best Novel 1990 nomination for the Agatha Awards. Harris wrote eight books in her series about a Georgia librarian. In 1996, she released the first in the much darker Shakespeare mysteries, featuring the amateur sleuth Lily Bard, a karate student who makes her living cleaning houses. Shakespeare’s Counselor, the fifth—and last– was printed in fall 2001.

After Shakespeare, Harris created an urban fantasy series about a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse who works in a bar in the fictional Northern Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Each book follows Sookie through her adventures involving vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. The series has been released worldwide and is so popular that writer and producer Alan Ball created the HBO series True Blood based on Harris’s novels. 

SOKY Book Fest is a partnership project of WKU Libraries, Warren County Public Library, and Barnes and Noble Booksellers. For more information, visit the website at sokybookfest.org or contact Book Fest organizer Kristie Lowry at WKU Libraries at (270) 745-4502.

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