Folklorists at Work

Alanna Wicks

Public Folklorist

As a Newfoundland and Labrador native I have had a strong interest in our province’s culture and heritage from the start. I was thrilled to become a part of the MUN Folklore Department’s family as an undergraduate and continued my education and training into graduate school. At Memorial University, I completed an undergraduate degree in Folklore and Cultural Anthropology and a Masters in Public Folklore. The opportunity to complete two work-terms during the Public Folklore graduate program is absolutely invaluable. I completed my work-terms with the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and The City of St. John’s Archive, the latter of which I was awarded the Director of Co-operative Studies Award for exemplary performance during a work-term, and continued to work with full-time as a graduate. During my time with the department I also had the opportunity to publish original writing in peer-reviewed journals, become a member of an active Folklore Society, visit conferences, plan community festivals, and so much more.

“The sense of community and family, along with world-renowned faculty, the helpful departmental staff, and the ever-growing MUN Folklore and Language Archive are what make the Folklore Department a unique and superlative place to mould and define your place in the vast world of Folklore and Folklife Studies.”

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Crystal Braye

Public Folklorist

Crystal Braye grew up in Brampton, Ontario and completed a BA in Cultural Anthropology at Wilfrid Laurier University before attending the Public Folklore Masters Degree program at Memorial University. Since completing her degree, Crystal is a folklorist for the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador where she conducts fieldwork on traditional design, construction, and use of wooden boats in their unique community contexts. This work is used to build archival collections and to create content for exhibits in the museum and online.

“The public folklore MA program at Memorial University taught me the academic standards of applied folklore and guided me through developing the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the field. Participating in the Public Sector stream allowed me to gain valuable experience and further develop the practical skills relevant to my career goals.”


John Bodner

Assistant Professor

John Bodner grew up in Gasline, a rural community in Southern Ontario. Following a BA at Trent University he received his MA and PhD in Folklore at Memorial. After a hiatus as an itinerant academic, treeplanter, and common labourer, John is currently Assistant Professor in the Social/Cultural Studies Program at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

“Folklore is a maddeningly flexible field that appears to have one simple project: seeing the big ideas in small, every day events.”


Jodi McDavid

Research Advancement Officer

My name is Jodi McDavid, I’m originally from northern New Brunswick, and I completed my PhD in Folklore at Memorial University in 2012. I am currently the Research Advancement Officer in the Office of Research & Graduate Studies at Cape Breton University, and I maintain an active research and teaching record in addition to my regular position. My PhD in Folklore has helped me make intellectual connections and support collaborations across a number of disciplines, which is what makes me a valuable addition to our research office and university. In my own research I have collaborated outside of Folklore with Chemists (about social media), Mathematicians (statistical relevance of square dancing sets), and Theatre faculty (looking at artistic expressions for women who are survivors of violence). Most importantly, my PhD in Folklore taught me to think critically, to write persuasively, and to develop a deep and intuitive sense of culture and cultural practices which will benefit me no matter where I go.

“The MUN Folklore program gave me the academic background I needed to come into my own as a researcher. We never know where we are going to end up working, teaching, or researching. My MA and PhD in Folklore has prepared me for the variety of work I have undertaken, and I have enjoyed the ability to be able to be employed in a variety of cultural sectors. I’ve been an instructor, archivist, cultural consultant, researcher, and university administrator, none of which I could have done without the skills and support I gained access to in the MUN Folklore program.”



Lisa Wilson

Public Folklorist

Lisa Wilson relocated to St. John’s in 2009 to pursue her master’s degree in Folklore. Since completing her thesis on textile traditions of the Northern Peninsula in 2011, she has taken thousands of photographs of people and their living spaces, as well as interviewed upwards of 125 tradition-bearers in the outports. Through the completion of various projects she has conducted research, created videos, and written pieces on such topics as vernacular architecture, folk art, craft production, traditional farming, cemeteries and headstone conservation, and most recently, heritage districts and community engagement. Lisa is presently the Heritage Districts/Outreach Officer for the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. In this position she is helping conduct research and build policy for the heritage districts program. She is particularly interested in exploring how the planning and promotion of registered heritage districts can lead to other important community-building activities.

"Through great mentorship during my degree, I was able to find topics that I really loved to study. Also with mentorship, I learned how to apply my interests outside of the academic realm."


Ian Brodie

Assistant Professor

Ian started at the Folklore Department in September of 2001, having recently earned his MA in Religious Studies. While a doctoral student, he was active in Culture & Tradition, the publications committee, and Mary Griffiths Night. He was the project manager for the 'MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada' website, a joint venture between MUNFLA and the recently opened MMap. He also taught both Introduction to Folklore and Folklife. He became involved in the Folklore Studies Association of Canada (FSAC), becoming co-editor of the Bulletin alongside fellow folklore student (and wife) Jodi McDavid. In 2005, Ian was offered a position at Cape Breton University in their new folklore program. Building on the extant folklore courses already on the books as electives, he helped to develop new courses within the program, many of them inspired by his own courseload at MUN. He hosted the FSAC conference in 2008 and ISCLR (the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research) in 2009. He has served on the editorial advisory board for H-FOLK, the folklore listserv, since 2007. Ian was president of FSAC for 2009-2010, and is currently editor of Contemporary Legend, the journal of ISCLR. His book, A Vulgar Art: A New Approach to Stand-Up Comedy, is coming out in December 2014 through University of Mississippi Press: it is based on his doctoral research. It should be conspicuously obvious how a folklore degree has helped him.

“Not only do I owe more or less everything in my professional life (and much of my personal life through friendships made there) to MUN's folklore department, but I try to return there frequently to re-engage with a community of scholars, faculty and students alike, doing cutting-edge and socially relevant research. I find myself re-energized and re-focused on my own work.”



­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Leone Nippard

Publishing Assistant & Archival Coordinator

I grew up in a small community in central Newfoundland called Main Point.

Currently, I'm living in St. John's, NL and working at Breakwater Books as a Publishing Assistant & Archival Coordinator.

I feel very privileged to have graduated from Memorial University's MA program in Folklore. The program has provided me with a wealth of knowlege and a solid foundation in folklore allowing me to utilize my skills and experiences learnt to my current job.

I'm currently working as a Publishing Assistant & Archival Coordinator for Breakwater Books where my education in folklore has provided me the tools necessary to successfully carry out my daily tasks such as interviewing, working with the public, researching, working with photo archives, creating digital records, and preserving and storing records.

I strongly believe my MA in folklore has opened a world of opportunity and provided me the tools to be successful both in work and life.


Nicole Penney

Public Folklorist

Nicole Penney is a folklorist, archivist and craftsperson, living and working in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Nicole has been working within the heritage community since 2004 and holds a BA in Folklore and English Literature and an MA in Public Folklore from Memorial University. Nicole contributes to various newsletter and blogs relating to traditional culture and has a particular interest in folk art and occupational folklore. Nicole currently works in The Reference Division with The Rooms Provincial Archives and as a project co-ordinator with The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Office. She currently sits as secretary and social committee chair on the board of directors of the Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives and regularly teaches a traditional textiles workshop. Nicole is a strong advocate of community level heritage projects and inter-generational activities.


Department of Folklore

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000