Nicholas (Nic) Hartmann
PhD Candidate and Instructor, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Where do you currently work?
I'm a doctoral candidate and sessional instructor in Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). In addition, I have worked as an archival assistant for the MUN Folklore and Language Archive, as the Vice-President Academic for the Graduate Students' Union of MUN and as a conference assistant for the International Council for Traditional Music World Meeting, which was held here in St. John's in 2011. I serve as web editor of Culture & Tradition, a Canadian folklore & ethnology journal aimed at graduate students, as well as a graduate student representative for committees in MUN's School of Graduate Studies and Faculty of Arts.
Tell me a bit about your career?
I'm currently conducting research for my PhD thesis on family folklore and ritual among offshore-working families in Newfoundland & Labrador. With the help of a doctoral fellowship from the Institute of Social and Economic Research, I will spend the next year conducting interviews with fishermen, oil/gas workers and military personnel about how family culture is maintained, ritualized and expressed in the face of long periods away from home.
I have taught courses for MUN, one titled Folklore Research Methods and one titled Folklore & Culture. The first involved teaching undergraduates the fundamentals of fieldwork techniques, archiving and ethnographic theories, while the second looked at the relationship between folk and popular culture via the study of home, work, and play. In 2012, students from the Folklore & Culture course nominated me for the MUN Students' Union Award for Excellence in Teaching, which I received in March of that year.
In addition to my thesis topic, I maintain strong interests in personal narrative (my final essay for Chris Antonsen's course in Folk Narrative became a recent journal article in New Directions in Folklore), cultural sustainability (I have been working with my wife, Jennifer, on research surrounding the cultural politics of a community band hall in western Nova Scotia), and dance/movement studies. The latter, a hobby of mine, has turned in two projects, one on the study of the bodylore of a group of adult ballet dancers, and the other into a study of gender performance among Zumba Fitness fans.
How has folklore prepared you for your career?
First of all, the focus on public folklore, as well as the department's desire for community outreach, instilled in me a very strong motivation to show others the benefits of understanding folklore's role in everyday life. Learning that folklore was just as much an approach to studying culture as it was a group of practices has been inspiring to my doctoral research. In addition, I felt that my years at WKU resulted in the ability to develop strong interests in multiple areas of folklore, thus providing me with a strong sense of versatility.
The close relationships I developed with faculty and staff were also incredibly helpful in determining how to ensure that my experience would go beyond the Hill. All of my professors, regardless of how many courses I had with them, motivated me to do My two years' work experience as an assistant to Barry Kaufkins at the Glasgow campus instilled in me a desire to make education accessible, enlightening and grounded in applicable practice; when I became an instructor myself, that experience went with me into the classroom.