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A lifetime of folklore

Retired professor receives recognition from national association

Research

By Janet Harron

A retired Memorial folklore professor has received the 2017 Marius-Barbeau Medal.

Dr. Gerald Pocius was recently presented with the honour in Toronto, Ont., by the Folklore Studies Association of Canada (FSAC) at its annual conference.

Dr. Gerald Pocius, centre, at the national award ceremony in Toronto.

The award recognizes significant contributions for a folklorist over their lifetime to the study of folklore in Canada.

‘Especially gratifying’

“It is important to me that my folklore peers recognized my contributions and achievements, especially in the areas of material culture, vernacular architecture, field schools, and my work with UNESCO on their 2003 convention,” said Dr. Pocius, who was one of the original founding members of the organization.

“I was also pleased that a younger generation of scholars still finds my work important. To be recognized by folklore scholars in both English and French Canada is especially gratifying.”

Founding member

According to Dr. Pocius, the early work of the FSAC was built on the notion that Canada as a nation is inherently different from the United Stats and that Canadian folklore should reflect this.

“We need to recognize the strengths that earlier concepts gave to making us a unique discipline.” — Dr. Gerald Pocius

In his address following the medal presentation, Dr. Pocius reflected on some of the key concepts that folklorists deemed important when the society was founded 40 years ago.

“Let’s take these four concepts – nation, history, text, and class – along with our more recent theoretical persuasions to create new ways of understanding the people we engage with,” he said.

“Our longstanding focus on these issues contains lessons that are still valuable. For the sake of the future of folklore studies, we cannot afford to abandon them now. We need to recognize the strengths that earlier concepts gave to making us a unique discipline. They are what made us folklorists. We need to reclaim these strengths from other disciplines and once again make them our own.”


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