Joy Fraser

Joy Fraser

Joy Fraser

Assistant Professor

Folklore: folk narrative; foodways; folk custom and drama; cultural tourism

Joy Fraser earned her PhD in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, in 2011. She is completing her first book, Addressing the Haggis: Culture and Contestation in the Making of Scotland's National Dish, which has been selected for publication by the University of Wisconsin Press as part of the Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World series. Her second book project investigates the violence surrounding the folk custom of Christmas mumming in nineteenth-century Newfoundland. Her essays have appeared in the journals Contemporary Legend, Scottish Studies, and Ethnologies, among others.

Current Research

Addressing the Haggis is the first book-length study of Scotland’s national dish and its relationship to Scottish cultural identity. Haggis is among the best-known symbols of Scotland in the world today, yet the issue of when, how, and why it came to be regarded as distinctively Scottish has been largely a matter of speculation. Addressing the Haggis traces the dish’s evolving status as a contested symbol of Scottish nationality from the 1700s onwards. Drawing on a range of evidence from Scotland, England, and Scotland’s global diaspora, the book explores how cultural depictions of haggis encode competing ideas about what it means to be Scottish, reflecting a transnational debate about Scottishness that continues to this day.

Dr. Fraser is also working on a project investigating the relationship between Christmas mumming, violence, and the law in nineteenth-century Newfoundland, based on evidence from criminal trials, local press coverage, legislative proceedings, and other archival sources. The project explores what these sources reveal about the nature of local mumming practices, the relationships among participants, the motivations underlying the violent incidents, and the responses of the authorities and other contemporary commentators. It situates the controversy surrounding Christmas mumming in the context of Newfoundland’s turbulent sociopolitical climate during this period and particularly the deep-rooted sectarian fault line that bisected the colony.

Selected Publications

“Uses of Folklore in Andrew Greig’s When They Lay Bare (1999).” Folklore 129.2 (2018). Forthcoming.

“Mummers on Trial: Mumming, Violence and the Law in Conception Bay and St. John’s, Newfoundland, 1831-1863.” Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures 3.2 (2009): 70-88.

“Performing Tradition and Ethnicity at the Newfoundland St. Andrew’s Society Burns Supper.” Ethnologies 30.2 (2008): 181-200.

“A Study of Scottish Gaelic Versions of ‘Snow-White.’” Scottish Studies 34 (2006): 60-76.

“‘Gie her a Haggis!’: Haggis as Food, Legend and Popular Culture.” Contemporary Legend n.s. 6 (2003): 1-43.

Grants and Fellowships

“Mummers on Trial: Christmas Mumming, Violence, and the Law in Nineteenth-Century Newfoundland.” Research Grant, J. R. Smallwood Foundation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2018.

Polly Grimshaw Prize, Archives and Libraries Section, American Folklore Society, 2017. For “Mummers on Trial.”

Faculty Research and Development Award, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, GMU, 2017. For “Mummers on Trial.”

“Honest Poverty vs. Foreign Fakery: Popular Histories of Haggis, and a Culinary Historical Corrective.” Culinary Historians of New York Scholar’s Grant, 2014.

Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses

ENGH 315: Folklore and Folklife

ENGH 316 (Topics in Myth and Literature): Folktale

ENGH 400 (Honors Seminar): Monstrous Bodies: Urban Legend and the Politics of Fear

ENGH 412 (Topics in Folklore Studies): Folktale

ENGH 412 (Topics in Folklore Studies): Legend

ENGH 412 (Topics in Folklore Studies): Folk Custom and Festival

ENGH 412 (Topics in Folklore Studies): Folk Drama

ENGH 417 RS (Topics in Folklore Research): Folklore, Tourism, Heritage

HNRS 122 (Reading the Arts): Traditional Arts in Performance

HNRS 131 (Contemporary Society in Multiple Perspectives): Food and Culture

Graduate Courses

ENGH 590 (Topics in Folk Narrative): Folktale

ENGH 590 (Topics in Folk Narrative): Legend

ENGH 591 (Topics in Folklore Studies): Folk Custom and Festival

ENGH 591 (Topics in Folklore Studies): Folk Drama

ENGH 591 (Topics in Folklore Studies): Folklore, Tourism, Heritage

ENGH 681 (Advanced Topics in Folklore Studies): Folklore and Folklife

ENGH 681 (Advanced Topics in Folklore Studies): Folk Custom and Festival

ENGH 681 (Advanced Topics in Folklore Studies): Folklore, Tourism, Heritage

Recent Presentations

“‘Lean, fit, and very tasty’: Sex, Health, and Nation in Quality Meat Scotland’s Scotch Beef Marketing Campaign.” Beef, Beer, and Bannocks: Scotland's Food and Drink in Media and Marketing, Edinburgh, October 2017.

“‘The plenishing o’ poortith’s wame’: Scottishness as Honest Poverty in Cultural Depictions of Haggis.” American Folklore Society, Minneapolis, October 2017.

“Rearranging the Facts: Unreliable Narrators in the Isaac Mercer Murder Case of 1861.” International Small Island Cultures conference, St. John’s, NL, June 2017.

“Imagining Scottishness in Popular Histories of Haggis.” Folklore Studies Association of Canada, Toronto, May 2017.

“‘Some fiends disguised as mummers’: The Isaac Mercer Murder Case and the Politics of Sectarianism in Nineteenth-Century Newfoundland.” Winter Festivals and Traditions, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, March 2017.

In the Media

“The Isaac Mercer Mummer Murder Case.” Living Heritage, CHMR-FM (St. John’s, NL), June 29, 2017.

McClain, Buzz. “Mason Folklorist Uncovers New Evidence in Pivotal 153-Year-Old Murder.” About Mason: Research, January 2013.

MacLean, Colin. “Murdered by Mummers: New Facts Uncovered in the Unsolved Case of Man Killed by Masked Christmas Visitors in 1860.” Telegram (St. John’s, NL), December 20, 2012.

“Murder and Mummers.” St. John’s Morning Show (St. John’s, NL), CBC Radio 1, December 3, 2012.

“Haggis as a Symbol of Scotland.” Topical feature for Robert Burns Day. On the Go (Newfoundland and Labrador), CBC Radio 1, January 25, 2011.