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Michael Kinsella

Michael Kinsella

Religious studies PhD candidate

University of California, Santa Barbara

Graduated: 2007


Where do you currently work?

I’m currently a Ph.D. student in the Religious Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Tell me about your career?

After graduating from WKU, I spent some time reworking my MA thesis into a monograph for the University Press of Mississippi, published July 2011. The book examines legend-tripping: a folk ritual in which people strive to explore and find manifest events described by supernatural legends. (

Here at UCSB, I’m specializing in religion in America with an emphasis in cognitive science. I remain principally interested in a range of behaviors and activities that typically fall within the categories of “supernatural,” “paranormal,” and “magical,” and so I continue to work closely with folk narratives and beliefs.


How has folklore prepared you for your career?

My folklore training has enabled me to draw upon a range of methods and genre distinctions in order to develop a more nuanced appreciation of the complex interactions among tradition, belief, and experience. The folkloristic approach that I learned at WKU continues to help guide my inquiries into aspects of life that aren’t commonly thought of as religious yet nonetheless influence and are, in many cases, essential components to everyday religious practices.

Michael Kinsella

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 Last Modified 9/25/14