New Courses, Partnerships: Folklore & Festivals

Folklore Program Partners with Arts Management & Smithsonian

New Courses, Partnerships: Folklore & Festivals

The English Department’s Folklore Program is collaborating with Mason’s Arts Management Program and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (SCFCH) to offer two team-taught courses on folklore and and festivals, open to both undergraduate and graduate students this spring and summer. The spring course, “Folklore Festival Management” (ENGH 412/591), will draw on interdisciplinary scholarship to train students in folklore and festival management—an academic foundation for the summer course, “Folklife Festival Experiential Learning,” which will provide hands-on experience working with the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in DC.

The project’s development has been supported by a 2019 Provost’s Curriculum Impact Grant that was awarded to three Mason professors: Lisa Gilman in the English Department and Carole Rosenstein and Karalee MacKay in the Arts Management Program. Gilman and Rosenstein also organized a forum at the Fall 2019 annual meeting of the American Folklore Society examining “Opportunities and Challenges of Partnerships between Folklore Programs and Arts Administration Programs in Higher Education.” And the project’s timing coincides with the SCFCH’s own initiatives to enhance partnerships and intern opportunities within the DC area.

“Our goals are to invigorate and reinforce the academic training of students who will graduate to work in the arts and cultural sectors in the U.S. and abroad,” says Gilman. “The team-taught approach will allow a folklore professor to explore issues of cultural representation, for example, while the arts management instructor will focus on the practical skills needed to produce a festival. In the summer session, students will develop their skills in any number of directions, from festival documentation to social media and marketing to logistical organization and more.”

This year’s Festival of American Folklife will be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC June 24-28 and July 1-5 with a focus in part on the cultures of Benin, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. For more information about these courses, please contact Lisa Gilman (